Ancillary Sword – Ann Leckie

The follow up to the highly acclaimed Ancillary Justice, this continues the science fiction story of Breq (the soldier who used to be a ship) under the command of the emperor she once swore to destroy.

With a new ship and crew, Breq goes to Athoek Station, where  the sister of a former colleague lives. The mission is to save lives, but Breq has to factor in her own past as the killer of that colleague, as she deals with the politics and danger that is swirling around Athoek.

Although I was less impressed with Ancillary Justice than the critics were, I was pleasantly surprised to find this a more rewarding read. It may be that the properly developed back story of the first book is the reason. Or it may be that the author is developing. Regardless, I found it a fine mix of space operatic action, philosophy, ┬ámystery, and surprise. The author’s writing style is restrained, effective, and measured – like delivering steady does of drugs through a drip feed – despite having to juggle a myriad of perspectives.

Incidentally, on the back of my paperback version it has this quote from Elizabeth Bear:

“Establishes Leckie an heir to Banks.”

Indeed, some of the book does remind me of the late Iain M Banks’ science fiction. However, it’s important to acknowledge that Leckie has her own voice, her own outlook, and her own style. And, so far as my experience is concerned, it’s all original.

On this basis, I’ll be keeping an eye out for the next Ann Leckie novel.