I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel about this one. It swept the awards for the year it came out, and many of my friends adored it, but the first time I tried to read it I bounced off, and my partner wasn’t a huge fan. Fortunately, I did really like it; enough that I’m in a hurry to read Ancillary Sword, at least. I’m not sure if it’s a five star read — that might have to await a reread — but it is definitely a solid four star.
It did take me at least 50 pages to really get into it, maybe even more like 100. There’s a lot to take in, with the language stuff and the world-building. The world-building is awesome, and I’d be a hypocrite to dislike the language stuff here when it’s as consistent as Katherine Addison’s The Goblin Emperor, and less obtrusive/central — so that’s not a complaint, just an observation: it took some getting used to. It also took some time for me to get to grips with the characters, particularly the main character. Breq isn’t, in her own eyes, a person, merely a fragment of an AI, so she minimises her own account of her personality, and that makes it awkward.
Still, the details of the world and Breq’s place within it build up, and the plot comes together really well. Unexpectedly, I found myself interested in Seivarden, really really hoping that Lieutenant Awn made it okay, feeling weird about the Lord of the Radch, etc. The feelings part, the emotional engagement, snuck up on me. But it came, and left me hungry for more of the world, to know what happens to Breq, to Seivarden, to the Radch.
Good thing I have Ancillary Sword right here.