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on 7 December 2015
Breq Ghaiad has a secret. She used to be part of a bigger entity, a ship (the space kind), called Justice of Toren. It gets more mind-boggling - she used to also be part of a hive mind AI that controlled the "corpse soldiers" on the ship, so-called because they were reanimated from the dead bodies of soldiers that the Radch empire (a dictatorial and all-powerful government on a mission to subjugate all surrounding planets) conquered or "annexed". As a battle starship, it means she is able to be anywhere and everywhere that each of her fellow ancillaries are. That gives her a certain omniscience in any action (at least when she recounts past events when she was still whole), that is really quite spectacular, and described in several instances and in colourful detail in the book.

Now she is just a remnant of the ship, and the lone soldier from the whole troop called One Esk. Out of that contingent, she was One Esk Nineteen, to be exact. Once the reader gets used to the mental gymnastics need to grasp the main character, the rest of the action flows quite smoothly and reels you in quite effortlessly. How she became just one remnant is something that unfolds, even as she encounters someone familiar, naked and face down in the snow, on an isolated planet far from the reaches of the Radchaai empire, and therefore considered uncivilised. That someone turns out to be Seivarden Vendaai, a lieutenant of the Justice (Breq the ship) a thousand years ago. In an unlikely partnership, the two embark on Breq's quest to confront the person who was responsible for her current state, and to resolve an action she had to carry out against her will twenty years ago.

Ann Leckie creates a complex world that bears just enough references to familiar structures like power and religion to make it all work, and the reader gets the sense that he is just getting a slice of a really big cake in this first of a promising trilogy. The 'genderless' universe (nonetheless by default female in terms of pronouns used) takes some getting used to, and potentially invites feminist readings. Questions about identity, selfhood and human nature, free will and mortality, are all problematised in this intelligent yet entertaining space opera.
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on 21 April 2017
The good - the use of the female pronoun for practically everyone was interesting, the hive mind and last one left from the hive was great. The author enjoys politics and double dealing - quite complex and not easy to follow but I wrote some of it out and I think it's logical.
The bad - all the coincidences - arrives in the capital planet and bumps into people she knows all over the place, runs away to escape and bumps into ... The editing is iffy too (the "palace proper" turns up half a dozen times in only a few pages). I won't bother with the others, but if you're serious about SF you should read this
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on 11 September 2017
From the first page of Ancillary Justice, the author keeps the reader in total suspense. There is not a sentence wasted and the book is an absolute page turner. The characters are different shades of gray, which makes them more interesting that the standard good vs. evil affair. I was genuinely interested in seeing what would happen to them.

The book jumps between two time frames, one which is in the present and the other in the past. Although this sounds like it could complicate things it is expertly done and enhances the depth of the story.

Another strong point of the book is Leckie's imagination and even if she writes about themes such as artificial intelligence it is done in such an imaginative way that instead of feeling tired (there's so much about AI out there) it feels like an entirely new take on the topic.
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on 15 October 2017
I very rarely give up on a book, especially one that appears to have been as feted as this one, but the writing style was so difficult to wade through, and it was generally so hard-going without any redeeming and engaging factors, that I eventually had to pack it in... very disappointing and certainly no match for Banks as some suggest.
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on 3 April 2014
It's hard to dislike this novel, really. From the opening pages, it grips you into a compelling storyline that alternates smoothly between action and tension. The central character is fascinating; the last remnant of an AI used to controlling multiple human bodies - the feeling of being so badly limited, so badly trapped, is quite astonishingly well portrayed, as well as the feeling that Breq could be very easily led to making fatal decisions - so used to having multiple spare bodies.

The book also deals thoughtfully with the ethical nature of the Ancilliaries - the human bodies stripped of their minds and turned into machines. The AI, Breq, is juxtaposed nicely with a human character who's been wrenched out of time to provide a subtle exposition - an example of how well the novel is technically constructed.

I'm steeling myself for disappointment in the sequel - no sequel can live up to this beginning - but I'm buying it anyway.
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on 25 March 2017
Clever, interesting, literate, low on flashy stuff but full of well realised characters and civilisations. Not a tech fest , instead a well written enjoyable, readable believable book.
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on 9 July 2017
Starting off a bit unclear but then having it all explained in little steps was a wonderful experience and made me unable to stop reading! Onwards to the second book!
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on 30 May 2017
Very complicated at 1st but stick with it.. it pans out to be an incredibly good book .. and a thought provoking future universe .. ann leckie breaks many rules.. gender, sentience and even individuality become vague .. but she still manages to make you care deeply about the main characters .. just excellent
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on 7 October 2017
Sorry but I found it quite hard going and almost gave up at one point. Don’t think I will be reading any if the books in the series.
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on 20 May 2017
Enjoyed it immensely (shades of the Culture Novels). Find comments on the lack of gender identification as an issue puzzling since it should be clear from the outset that it is how One Esk/Radchii see it.Well paced and the switching from past to present is handled well.
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