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Ancillary Sword (Imperial Radch) Paperback – October 7, 2014

4 out of 5 stars 366 customer reviews
Book 2 of 3 in the Imperial Radch Series

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Editorial Reviews


"If you don't know the Ancillary series by now, you probably should. Ann Leckie's sociopolitical space opera almost singlehandedly breathed new cool into the stereotype of spaceships trundling through far-off systems amid laser battles. ... [Ancillary Mercy] earns the credit it's received: As a capstone to a series that shook genre expectations, as our closing installment of an immersively realized world, and as the poignant story of a ship that learned to sing."―NPR Books on Ancillary Mercy

"Powerful."―The New York Times on Ancillary Sword

"The sort of space opera audiences have been waiting for."―NPR Books on Ancillary Sword

"Fans of space operas will feast on its richly textured, gorgeously rendered world-building."―Entertainment Weekly on Ancillary Sword

"Breq's struggle for meaningful justice in a society designed to favor the strong is as engaging as ever. Readers new to the author will be enthralled, and those familiar with the first book will find that the faith it inspired has not been misplaced."―Publishers Weekly on Ancillary Sword

"Leckie proves she's no mere flash in the pan with this follow-up to her multiple-award-winning debut space opera, Ancillary Justice."―Kirkus on Ancillary Sword

"This follow-up builds on the world and characters that the author introduced in the first book and takes the story in new directions. There is much more to explore in Leckie's universe, one of the most original in SF today."―Library Journal (starred review) on Ancillary Sword

"An ambitious space opera that proves that Justice was no fluke.... a book every serious reader of science fiction should pick up."―RT Book Reviews on Ancillary Sword

"Superb... Sword proves that [Leckie]'s not a one-hit wonder. I look forward to the rest of Breg's tale."―St. Louis Post-Dispatch on Ancillary Sword

"A gripping read, with top-notch world building and a set of rich subtexts about human rights, colonialism -- and (yes) hive mind sex."―io9 on Ancillary Sword

"Leckie investigates what it means to be human, to be an individual and to live in a civilized society."―Scientific American on Ancillary Sword

"Unexpected, compelling and very cool. Ann Leckie nails it...I've never met a heroine like Breq before. I consider this a very good thing indeed."―John Scalzi on Ancillary Justice

"Ancillary Justice is the mind-blowing space opera you've been needing...This is a novel that will thrill you like the page-turner it is, but stick with you for a long time afterward."―io9 (included in 'This Fall's Must-Read Science Fiction and Fantasy Books')

"It's not every day a debut novel by an author you'd never heard of before derails your entire afternoon with its brilliance. But when my review copy of Ancillary Justice arrived, that's exactly what it did. In fact, it arrowed upward to reach a pretty high position on my list of best space opera novels ever."―Liz Bourke, Tor.com

"Establishes Leckie as an heir to Banks and Cherryh."―Elizabeth Bear on Ancillary Justice

"A double-threaded narrative proves seductive, drawing the reader into the naive but determined protagonist's efforts to transform an unjust universe. Leckie uses...an expansionist galaxy-spinning empire [and] a protagonist on a single-minded quest for justice to transcend space-opera conventions in innovative ways. This impressive debut succeeds in making Breq a protagonist readers will invest in, and establishes Leckie as a talent to watch."―Publishers Weekly on Ancillary Justice

"Using the format of SF military adventure blended with hints of space opera, Leckie explores the expanded meaning of human nature and the uneasy balance between individuality and membership in a group identity. Leckie is a newcomer to watch as she expands on the history and future of her new and exciting universe."―Library Journal on Ancillary Justice

"A sharply written space opera with a richly imagined sense of detail and place, this debut novel from Ann Leckie works as both an evocative science fiction tale and an involving character study...it's also a strongly female-driven piece, tackling ideas about politics and gender in a way that's both engaging and provocative...Ancillary Justice is a gripping read that's well worth a look."―SFX (UK) on Ancillary Justice

"It engages, it excites, and it challenges the way the reader views our world. Leckie may be a former Secretary of the Science Fiction Writers of America, but she's the President of this year's crop of debut novelists. Ancillary Justice might be the best science fiction novel of this very young decade."―Justin Landon, Staffer's Book Review on Ancillary Justice

"Total gamechanger. Get it, read it, wish to hell you'd written it. Ann Leckie's Ancillary Justice may well be the most important book Orbit has published in ages."―Paul Graham Raven on Ancillary Justice

"The sort of book that the Clarke Award wishes it had last year ... be prepared to see Ancillary Justice bandied around a lot come awards season. (As it should be)."―Jared Shurin, Pornokitsch

About the Author

Ann Leckie has worked as a waitress, a receptionist, a rodman on a land-surveying crew, a lunch lady, and a recording engineer. The author of many published short stories, and former secretary of the Science Fiction Writers of America, she lives in St. Louis, Missouri, with her husband, children, and cats.

Product Details

  • Series: Imperial Radch (Book 2)
  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Orbit (October 7, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316246654
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316246651
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (366 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #6,752 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I loved Ancillary Justice. The characters were great, the timing and plotting were incredibly thought out, subtleties were important but not pushed too hard, and there was a climax.

I hate to say it, but this book was disappointing. AJ was able to be an intimate character study, introduce this foreign concept of ancillaries and ship AIs, and make us care and sympathize with ancillaries, and also play out a plot on an epic scale. AS does none of those things. No new concepts, no important plotline, no Anaander Mianai throughout the entire book, and no recourse for the murder of the Presger translator. How is that not where this book went? Who cares about a corrupt captain smuggling ancillaries? That would get two paragraphs in AJ.

I love the omnipotent/multiple viewpoint Breq has, and the way it allowed situations to unfold in the first novel, but AS just does it because it feels obligated to. The pieces don't really intermingle, it's really just a mechanic to have three unrelated stories going on.

The second book in a trilogy is what makes it a trilogy. It expands the scope, shifts the momentum, introduces twists to issues that seemed resolved previously, and sets some expectation for the final piece. This book unfortunately did none of those things.

Also, the gender thing, which was jarring (in a good way) in the first novel, just didn't make sense in this one. What's the penis festival about? And if you're going to go directly at the issue of "so are there men and women?" why is there not an actual answer? I like the "she" as a standard pronoun use and it frankly made me realize a big bias I didn't realize I had, but there was no similar mechanism in this book.

AJ was so great that I'll read the third anyways, but this was a big letdown. I realize it was a hard act to follow AJ, but this felt mailed in.
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Format: Kindle Edition
At one point late in Ancillary Sword, a character asks the protagonist, "How (does) any of this (matter) when we have a civil war going on that might find its way here?" Breq's answer placates that character, but after finishing Ancillary Sword many readers will likely find themselves asking the same question with a far less satisfactory response. 2 stars.

The award winning Ancillary Justice combined space opera, social commentary, and shifting perspectives to create one of the more original works of science fiction in some years. While there was some criticism of pacing and depth, most readers felt those negatives were offset by the unique worldbuilding.

Unfortunately, Ancillary Sword retains most of the negatives without the positives. The plot summary: newly promoted Fleet Captain Breq proceeds to Athoek station, where by virtue of her superior rank she can order nearly everyone to do pretty much whatever her whims demand. Anyone who disagrees? Clearly, they're morally and intellectually bankrupt, and Breq has near omnipotence to not only steamroll them but to miraculously contain their enmity. (There's probably an ironic meta here someplace comparing Breq's leadership to Anaander's eternal dictatorship, but this is almost certainly unintentional.)

While there, she uncovers a few conspiracies, spends an awful lot of time working towards social justice for various oppressed locals, and on occasion tries to make up with Awn's sister. The big picture stuff that drove the plot of Ancillary Justice disappears and the book stagnates.

Civil war? Almost nonexistent for most of the book. Alien menace?
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Sophomore slump?
I gave AJ a 5-star rating and liked the beginning of this one, but it kind of got mired.
I found the touchy-feely ending unexpected and unwanted.

It didn't help that the end of the book came at the 90% point on my Kindle.
From now on, I'll be checking to find where the end of every book is before I read it.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I’m just going to say it up front, instead of making you read the entire review to get to the possible juicy parts: I did not enjoy this book at any point while I was reading it. The rest of my review is going to focus on why.

I think betrayed promises are one of the reasons I disliked Ancillary Sword the entire time. The first novel in the trilogy, Ancillary Justice was solid, epic, and rather enjoyable. It won basically every award on the planet, and even if it didn’t completely thrill me, I can understand why it garnered at least some of the acclaim that it did. It was the story of a ship made into a person, the losses and changes she had to go through, and also the story of a splintered empire, ruled by an empress with multiple personality disorder. I expected the sequel to either be more of the same, or to expand into something even more epic—that’s what a trilogy promises to me.

It failed to deliver.

Spoiler warning for Ancillary Sword. Do not read past this point if you do not want a handful of plot points spoiled for you. I feel that I simply have to talk about them to properly express why I disliked this book.

The story followed Breq into a single solar system, and focused completely on her present-day life. As much as I found the flashback sequences in Ancillary Justice confusing, they offered glimpses of a major, planetary-wide conflict, as well as an intriguing view into what it meant for Breq to be an entire ship. None of that here, so there is nothing to detract from the present-day monotony of Breq’s life. The only glimpses that we get of her previous life as a ship are her moping about no longer having that power as she watches her own ship go about its duties.
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