Tag: Ann Leckie


Review – Ancillary Mercy

Posted 7 August, 2017 by Nikki in Reviews / 2 Comments

Cover of Ancillary Mercy by Ann LeckieAncillary Mercy, Ann Leckie

If there’s a place that this trilogy disappoints me a little, it is with this book. There’s plenty of action and character development, and if it were the middle book I’d probably be perfectly happy. But it isn’t; this is the end, and it’s unsatisfying in the sense that we have no idea how things will turn out. It makes sense as a decision, when you see it in the context of the second book in particular — this is really about Breq and her relationships with those around her, and less about the Radch. Breq’s story, and especially that of the Radch, go on before and beyond the books.

But still. I want to know what happens next. Do the Presger rule in favour of Breq’s little republic? What happens to Tisarwat? Does Anaander Mianaii try to take control back — or rather, being Anaander Mianaii, what does she try to get control again?

There are many things I love about this book, but it’s still a little bit in danger of getting only four stars because I just want more. On the other hand, there’s all the delicious dry snark from Breq and Sphene, there’s continued exploration of AIs and personhood, there’s the Translator and her fish sauce and her improbable digestive system… There’s all the heroics and the goodness of Breq, and the desperate moves Station makes to protect its inhabitants —

So in summary, there’s a lot to love, and I want more of it.

Rating: 5/5

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Review – Ancillary Sword

Posted 23 July, 2017 by Nikki in Reviews / 4 Comments

Cover of Ancillary Sword by Ann LeckieAncillary Sword, Ann Leckie

Ancillary Sword has a smaller scale than Ancillary Justice, which actually continues into book three. It’s not that the wider events are forgotten, but it narrows down to the narrow section of space Breq can protect, her ship, and Athoek Station. As with the first book, I liked this more on the second reading — probably because, yes, I did know what to expect, so I could appreciate it better, but also because on reflection I like that Leckie doesn’t try to tackle the huge sweep of events. Instead, she focuses in on Breq and those around her, and keeps it manageable in plot and for the reader to appreciate.

There was less of Seivarden in this book than I remembered, and actually I think I’d have liked to see more of Seivarden. She’s got learning to do, but all the same, I’ve come to appreciate the character. She’s far from perfect, and she’s not even an anti-hero — she’s just a flawed person. But nonetheless, she grows and develops.

Sometimes Breq is a little too… far-seeing. There are things she suspects in this book that only really become obvious in the third book. In retrospect, I enjoy the way things come together, but the first time it felt like Breq was a little too good. But then, of course, she’s not human. She’s an ancillary, and so she thinks differently. I suppose that’s part of what we’re being shown here too.

So, yes, conclusion continues to be: well worth the reread, and definitely as good as or better than I remembered it.

Rating: 5/5

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Review – Ancillary Justice

Posted 6 May, 2017 by Nikki in Reviews / 2 Comments

Cover of Ancillary Justice by Ann LeckieAncillary Justice, Ann Leckie

The first time I read this book, I was very conscious of everything people were saying about it in terms of how it treated gender, how it was feminist, etc, etc. I think reading it with those expectations did it a disservice — the way it handles gender is fascinating, and it’s definitely intriguing to get this look at another world where gender isn’t indicated grammatically or socially. But that’s not all this story is. It’s also an adventure, a thriller even; it’s about political machinations when you’re a being who can be divided against yourself in your opinions. It’s about AI and how to control them, about empire and how it functions. There’s a little bit of Rome in it, but there’s a lot of other influences as well.

Which is to say, it’s not about gender. If anything, the most powerful aspect of this book this time round was Breq’s repeated refrain, the closing words: “Choose my aim, take one step and then the next. It had never been anything else.”

When you’re not worried about figuring out who is what gender, and whether that’s clever or subverting your expectations or what, it’s a smoother read, and one in which you can become attached to the characters. Lieutenant Awn — I don’t know what she looks like, nor do I care. I care what she does in the moment, and about her regret for acting or not acting. I care about Breq’s determination to be worthy of the person Awn was. Despite myself, I even care about Seivarden — a snob, a jerk, but also someone who begins to try to be something more.

Going into Ancillary Justice at a remove from the buzz, just because I wanted to reread it and enjoy it, was an excellent decision. I don’t expect my experience of Ancillary Sword and Ancillary Mercy to change in that way, because I already knew what to expect at that point — but I’m quite prepared to find more depth there than I saw the first time.

Rating: 5/5

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Review – Ancillary Mercy

Posted 7 December, 2015 by Nikki in Reviews / 0 Comments

Cover of Ancillary Mercy by Ann LeckieAncillary Mercy, Ann Leckie

For a while, I wasn’t sure how this book would or could wrap everything up, given the scale of the struggle that we began to see in Ancillary Justice. But I think, in the end, that comes down to the fact that the story isn’t actually about that struggle; this isn’t a never-ending epic struggle, it’s about one person — one fragment of a person, even, slowly becoming a person. It’s about Justice of Toren, and Breq, and then also about the people she interacts with: Seivarden, Ekalu, Ship, Station, Sphene… It’s about people and tangled loyalties and learning.

This makes the small stuff — the tea, the bureaucracy, Tisarwat’s purple eyes, Medic’s attempts to help Seivarden — all-important. So it’s great to see the bit where Seivarden and Breq negotiate mutual comfort; great to see the part where Seivarden struggles to apologise to Ekalu — and then later manages to really apologise to Ekalu. This passage was just so important, because it’s such a sign of how far Seivarden’s come, and such an important thing for people to realise:

“I’ve been thinking about it, and I still don’t understand exactly why what I said hurt you so much. But I don’t need to. It hurt you, and when you told me it hurt you, I should have apologised and stopped saying whatever it was. And maybe spent some time trying to understand. Instead of insisting that you manage your feelings to suit me. And I want to say I’m sorry. And I actually mean it this time.”

Now that’s the way to apologise, sincerely, even when you still don’t understand.

Also, this book does include glimpses of the wider world, beyond the Radch — mentions of the aliens, the presence of another Presger translator, etc. If you’re in this to see Anaander Miaanai go down, then I think you’ll be disappointed with the way the trilogy ends; if you’re in this for Breq and Seivarden and the people gathering around them, then this is an excellent ending.

Well, not an ending, but a good place to stop. You know that Breq will carry on, Seivarden will carry on, and they will still struggle and Anaander will still scheme and Tisarwat has a long way to go. But, “In the end, it’s only ever been one step, and then the next.”

Rating: 4/5

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Review – Ancillary Sword

Posted 6 July, 2015 by Nikki in Reviews / 2 Comments

Cover of Ancillary Sword by Ann LeckieAncillary Sword, Ann Leckie

I didn’t like this as much as the first book, I think. It has a completely different focus to the first book, a much more domestic one, and I was expecting something different the whole time. The focus is much more on society in the Radch, rather than the issues of identity that were at work in the first book with Breq’s separation from the Justice of Toren, and the Anaander Mianaai issue. It’s an exploration of more of the world than we saw in the first book, and I really liked that once I got into it.

It’s great seeing Breq back in the world of the Radch, a world that she is perfectly suited for, a world she knows exactly how to operate in. And it’s great seeing her begin to work against Anaander Mianaai and the way the Radch works, in a way that’s still consistent with the values of that world.

I really want Ancillary Mercy now. I’m not sure how I see the whole thing wrapping up, given the fact that this book didn’t really advance the larger plot much. I suppose the books can’t wrap up the civil war Breq’s stirring up, not so simply. We’ve got a small scale going on, especially with this book, and the civil war is going to be on a massive scale.

I guess we’ll have to see!

Rating: 4/5

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Review – Ancillary Justice

Posted 4 July, 2015 by Nikki in Reviews / 3 Comments

Cover of Ancillary Justice by Ann LeckieAncillary Justice, Ann Leckie

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.

Rating: 4/5

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Top Ten Tuesday

Posted 23 September, 2014 by in General / 4 Comments

This week’s top ten list prompt from The Broke and The Bookish is “Top Ten Books On My Fall To-Be-Read list”. Which is a little difficult for me, because I don’t really sort my books into appropriate seasons or anything. I just have a perpetual, massive, glorious to read list. But here are some books I’m looking forward to getting round to…

  1. Shades of Milk and Honey, by Mary Robinette Kowal. This is actually a reread of a book I wasn’t wild about the first time round, but now I have this urge to reread it and read the rest of the series, and I suspect I’ll like it more this time around. We’ll see, but I’m hopeful.
  2. Good Omens, by Neil Gaiman & Terry Pratchett. This is a reread, too. I know I’m going to love this one because I always have before, though I somewhat over-read it so that I could virtually quote it, and thus have given it a couple of years’ rest.
  3. River of Stars, by Guy Gavriel Kay. I’ve had this since it came out, but it’s at the end of a long list of rereads of GGK’s work, so I can watch his craft developing. I started pretty well but stalled on A Song for Arbonne, which is funny, because I do like that book and it covers exactly the sort of historical period I’m very familiar with and have done work on. So hopefully I’ll get through them all and get onto this new one sometime this fall.
  4. Friday’s Child, by Georgette Heyer. Because I haven’t read it yet, and it’s Heyer.
  5. Blindsight, by Peter Watts. Because it’s been recommended to me a couple of times, I got a free copy, and it’s been mentioned quite a bit in one of my book groups.
  6. Ancillary Justice, by Ann Leckie. Because it’s about bloody time.
  7. Tam Lin, by Pamela Dean. Ditto. And the opening, with starting at university and settling in and all of that, it seems a good time of year for that, even if I’m not a student this time.
  8. Possession, by A.S. Byatt. Speaking of scholarship and stuff, I’ve been meaning to read this for a long time.
  9. Little, Big, by John Crowley. I’ve had this book around far too long, and I’ve been meaning to read it. I just… never seem to have found the time. About time I fixed that.
  10. Steelheart, by Brandon Sanderson. I generally enjoy Sanderson’s work, and this one includes superheroes. So very sold.

What about everyone else? Comment, link me, you know the drill.

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TBR Tag

Posted 12 September, 2014 by in General / 1 Comment

Spotted this meme on Reading is my Treasure and picked it up since it looks like fun!

How do you keep track of your TBR pile?

Never-ending lists, mostly. I have lists going back to 2011 of the books that I’ve acquired (2011, 2012, 2013, 2014), though that doesn’t include ARCs or library books. At the moment I’m also using my Stacking the Shelves posts as a visual reminder: look at old StS posts, figure out what I’ve read and what I haven’t, feel guilty.

Is your TBR mostly print or e-book?
Probably ebook, but I’m not sure, because I do have a looooot of both. It’s easier to go on sprees with ebooks, though.

A Book That’s Been On Your TBR List The Longest

Ulysses by James Joyce, technically! It’s been on my list since a couple of months before my first year in university, anyway. Other than that, I think it’s my Diane Duane books.

A Book You Recently Added To Your TBR

Dangerous Girls, by Abigail Haas. I keep hearing so much about this!

A Book In Your TBR Strictly Because of Its Beautiful Cover

I don’t really pick based on covers, but there are some that partially appeal because of the pretty.

Cover of The Hidden Blade by Sherry Thomas Cover of Of Bone and Thunder by Chris Evans Cover of The Falconer by Elizabeth May

A Book On Your TBR That You Never Plan on Reading

Probably Ulysses… I just can’t find any appeal in it other than “you have two English Lit degrees, you are meant to read it”. Well, boo to that.

An Unpublished Book on Your TBR That You’re Excited For

Mmmmmm. Up to last week it’d have been Maplecroft by Cherie Priest, or maybe The Mirror Empire by Kameron Hurley. Right now, I guess it’s down to N.K. Jemisin’s next one…

Cover of The Fifth Season, by N.K. Jemisin

A Book On Your TBR That Basically Everyone’s Read But You

Gotta go with Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell, but there’s others too…

Cover of the special UK Collectors Edition of Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell Cover of We Were Liars by E. Lockhart Cover of The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen

A Book On Your TBR That Everyone Recommends To You

One of the above, probably! But also these, particularly Ancillary Justice.

Cover of Take Back the Skies by Lucy Saxon Cover of Shades of Milk and Honey by Mary Robinette Kowal Cover of Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie

A Book On Your TBR That You’re Dying To Read

Oh, so many. I’d like to catch up on some of my comics, actually.

Cover of Dark Reign: Young Avengers Cover of Avengers Assemble: Science Bros Cover of Avengers Assemble: The Forgeries of Jealousy

How many books are on your Goodreads TBR shelf?

None. I don’t like the way they use that shelf. I have a bunch of specific shelves, but really I’m not keeping up with it very well since I started this blog.

I tag:

Whoever would like to do it!

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What are you reading Wednesday

Posted 20 November, 2013 by Nikki in General / 0 Comments

What did you recently finish reading?
Let’s see… mostly comics. The Island of Doctor Moreau, by H.G. Wells, was the last novel — read it for my SF/F class, though I discovered I hadn’t actually read it before anyway. Comics-wise, Avengers: The Children’s Crusade, Avengers vs X-men: VS., and Young Avengers Presents. All Marvel comics.

What are you currently reading?
Actively, P.G. Wodehouse’s The Small Bachelor, Molly Beth Griffin’s Silhouette of a Sparrow and Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s Herland; the latter, is once again, for my SF/F class.

What do you think you’ll read next?
The plan is to read Captain America: Winter Soldier, I think. Then maybe I’ll get round to the acclaimed Ancillary Justice (Ann Leckie).

Books acquired:
Last book before I came here was Nicola Griffith’s Hild, I think. Then there was a little shopping spree in Brussels and Leuven: Helen of Troy: Beauty, Myth, Devastation (Ruby Blondell), The Book of Barely Imagined Beings (Caspar Henderson), The Prisoner (Thomas M. Disch), The Song of Troy (Colleen McCullough), In Search of Shakespeare (Michael Wood), The Folding Knife (K.J. Parker) and Alphabet of Thorn (Patricia A. McKillip). Some bought for me by my partner, eee. Also I bought her Fly By Night (Frances Hardinge).

There was also a library trip. I have to report that the library in Leuven is pretty good for English-language books. So my haul from there was Mockingbird (Walter Tevis), The Short Novels of John Steinbeck, The Lover’s Dictionary (David Levithan), and White as Snow (Tanith Lee).

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