Talking about the Vorkosigan Saga by Bujold lead me to Ann Leckie and her Imperial Radch trilogy. Connections sometimes are weird. Anyway, turns out I never posted the reviews for the full trilogy over here. So, onwards to my backlist…
Ancillary Justice (Imperial Radch #1) by Ann Leckie, Adjoa Andoh (Narrator), read and reviewed in March 2017:
The beginning was a little confusing. Might be due to it being an audiobook, it’s a fairly new medium for me. Here are my slightly spoilerish thoughts.
Breq’s voice in the audibook works well for the character. I didn’t find her too neutral or emotionless. In the beginning she almost felt childlike, exploring and getting to know her world. As the book went on, she gained more emotions and more of a personality.
I found some of the dialects of the other characters a bit weird. Some of the voices in the audiobook also sounded a bit “too much” and not natural to me. But they all grew on me eventually.
It’s interesting that Breq used a female pronoun for all other characters, until she could figure out if they were male or female. And even then she often stuck to the female version. It made for an unusual reading experience. Ultimately it made no difference, if a character was male or female. Which was perhaps the point of the whole idea.
What I did find a bit difficult with the audiobook: Telling the other characters apart. And it was slightly annoying that I couldn’t see the spelling of the various names and places.
I liked the timeline alternating from chapter to chapter. The story only really took off for me with the convergence of both plotlines. I liked the story before that, too. But the pace was a bit too leisurely. The last 30% of the book finally picked up speed.
My personal highlight was the development of the relationship between Breq and Seivarden. The conclusion of the book’s underlieing conflict in contrast to that was just ok. Smart, but nothing earth shattering. Nice ending. And I am fairly certain that I will pick up the next book.
Sorry for my fairly lame review, literary mastermind I am not. Bottom line, I liked the book. A bit slow at times. Good plot. Good world building. Interesting characters. Loved Ors, loved Seivarden and the relationship of her and Breq. The last few chapters were fun. One gripping moment full of sadness. Good stuff.
Ancillary Sword (Imperial Radch #2) by Ann Leckie, Adjoa Andoh (Narrator), read and reviewed in April 2017:
I liked it. It was very laid back in between the more energetic action sequences. A lot of drinking tea. I liked the plot of the first book more, I think (still debating with myself). The alternating timeline made it more vibrant and suspenseful. It was proper space opera.
However, the relationships of the various characters in this sequel were more intricate. The dynamics of the people on the station and down on the planet were well done. The disenfranchised in the Undergarden (brilliant idea) and their revolution, the serfs on the planet, the ruling class and its notions of entitlement and righteousness… Good stuff, I will be going over it in my mind for quite a while.
You take what you want at the end of a gun, you murder and rape and steal, and you call it bringing civilization. And what is civilization, to you, but us being properly grateful to be murdered and raped and stolen from? You said you knew justice when you heard it. Well, what is your justice but you allowed to treat us as you like, and us condemned for even attempting to defend ourselves?
Very talkative prose, sometimes a little too much for my taste. But only a little. Seivarden’s role was sadly diminished in this, the addition of Tisarwat added a good character into the mix. Breq’s Kalrs pretending to be ancillaries was another great idea. She herself mourning for her lost connectedness with all that she was as Justice of Torren… I am not usually a friend of character driven narratives, but this was good.
Looking forward to Ancillary Mercy. Can’t wait to read, what they find on the other side…
Ancillary Mercy (Imperial Radch #3) by Ann Leckie, Adjoa Andoh (Narrator), read and reviewed in May 2017:
Lovely. I am sad that this is the end for the Imperial Radch. But then…
Every ending is an arbitrary one. Every ending is, from another angle, not really an ending.
Direct continuation of Ancillary Sword. A nice and fitting conclusion to the trilogy.
The humour and tongue-in-check of the dialogues was great and right down my alley. And Translator Zeiat made this novel, what a great character!
Loved Breq and how human she became in the last book. And not.
Loved the development of her relationship with Seivarden, who definitely did not have enough page time.
Loved the action sequences, loved the conversation about what makes one a significant being.
I will miss these characters, Athoek Station, the Undergarden… I would have loved to go through the ghost gate and meet the Presger.
Ancillary Sword and Ancillary Mercy felt like one book and I think I liked them more than Ancillary Justice. The plot and characterizations were more intricate. Although I did like the plot of Ancillary Justice a lot, too, and the early days of Seivarden and Breq. I’ll need to think on that some more.
Some fish sauce in the meantime?
The audiobook narration of these three by Adjoa Andoh was excellent!
After reading this trilogy, I read a ton of short stories by Leckie and eventually her novels Raven Tower and Provenance. One is fantasy and the other one is set in the world of Imperial Radch, but in another corner of the galaxy and with other characters and an entirely different feel. Both nominated for a ton of awards. So, yes, I am waiting for more. This woman can write. Raven Tower was published in early 2019, so maybe we get lucky next year…
The Hugos and The Raven Tower, Ann Leckie‘s blog post from August 2020