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Ancillary Justice: The Imperial Radch series, Book 1 Audio Download – Unabridged

3.9 out of 5 stars 316 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Audio Download
  • Listening Length: 12 hours and 40 minutes
  • Program Type: Audiobook
  • Version: Unabridged
  • Publisher: Hachette Audio UK
  • Audible.co.uk Release Date: 14 Aug. 2014
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00LPS7RFC
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank:

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Ancilliary Justice starts with its central character, who goes by the alias of Breq, on a wintery planet in search of a weapon with which she hopes to revenge events from 20 years previously. The story of those events is told in alternate chapters where we learn about a universe which is home to the imperial Radch, whose artificially intelligent starships control networks of telepathic soldiers, created from the bodies of those unfortunate enough to have been conquered and killed by these interstellar Romans.

Breq, it turns out, is one such avatar, One Esk Nineteen, last survivor of the troop carrier Justice of Toren. That sentence is indicative of two of the key features of author Ann Leckie's book. Firstly, that the ships control multiple avatars, all of whom are aware of what each other is/are thinking and seeing. Leckie handles the description of multiple viewpoints and rapidly changing perspective really skilfully. Secondly, this is very much a story of confused identity, as One Esk struggles to understand who and what she is. Crucially for the plot she and her like are not the only multiple entities in the book...... While the confusion created is intentional, it does occasionally step a little too far as, early on, Leckie rapidly introduces races, nations, factions characters, and interchangeable avatars at a pace which left this reader at least, somewhat disorientated.

As well as effectively describing the experiences of the multiple entities, Leckie gives the isolated One Esk a convincing, dispassionate voice, viewing the worlds around her in an unemotional, detached manner. While reading the book, one term which didn't enter my head was 'zombie', but in retrospect, that would be one way of looking at it.
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By Kate TOP 500 REVIEWER on 2 Jan. 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Breq is unique but she wasn't always. Once Breq was a spaceship, Justice of Toren, comprising thousands of corpse soldiers, each with a shared identity, one of many such vessels spreading the influence of the Imperial Radch around the Galaxy. Breq is now alone, her vessel destroyed, and she has only one goal - to take vengeance on Anaander Mianaai, the lord of the Radch, who exists in an almost infinite number of forms. Breq is also our narrator and it is through these strange eyes, this unusual perspective, that we witness the events that brought Breq to her single-minded purpose.

Ancillary Justice is an unusual novel, reflecting the nature of its narrator. Breq has lived in one form or another for thousands of years but in many ways she is socially naive. This expresses itself in her language. She can communicate with most races but not necessarily correctly. She doesn't readily know gender pronouns; everyone is `she' unless Breq is corrected. This has the rather peculiar result that we are not sure whether we are being introduced to men or women and, as we work this out, there are surprises. However, for me, this reinforced how little gender can matter when a story's narrator has far more basic identity problems to solve. While this use of the `she' pronoun has been an issue for some readers, it mattered little to me and I enjoyed the rare excuses for humour that it provided to the novel.

The novel opens on an icy planet with a moment of inexplicable mercy by Breq. She finds Seivarden lying in the snow, close to death. Seivarden had once been one of Breq's human crew members, many hundreds of years before, and there is no reason for her to be there, let alone still alive.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
To win any one of the major awards in writing in a year is a major achievement, to win five of them is a feat worthy of legend, and it sets up an anticipation for the story that puts an unfair strain on the words before you even start to read them.

Cheerfully I’ve never put much faith in awards in general, so I just read the book…

Ancillary Justice is the story of Breq, who was once the Justice of Toren, a massive warship in the service of the Empress that commanded thousands of troops and brought the will of the empire to all the corners of the galaxy, now a human like so many others. The story begins when Breq discovers the body of Seivarden, a person who should have been dead some years ago from Breq’s previous life as Justice, and makes the decision to look after them against all better logical instincts.

Progressing from two perspectives, that of the present day Breq making their way in the world and that of Justice of Toren in the past and the events that led up to Justice becoming Breq and Breq alone, and there’s nothing in the narrative that marks the difference to the two perspectives because as far as the narrator is concerned, Breq and Justice are the same creature.

This caused a particular problem for me, because while the nature of a self is a constant, time is not, and even a slight hint at the beginning of each chapter (in the manner of Game of Thrones with the name of the character whose chapter it is) would have been enough to prevent the disconnect. As it is, when you start a new chapter, you have to read till you find a landmark or character that’s unique to that section before you know which time period you’re in, sometimes immediate, oft times not.

Not a problem for many perhaps, but I really didn’t like that about it.
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