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Ancillary Justice (Imperial Radch #1)

3.97 of 5 stars 3.97  ·  rating details  ·  17,878 ratings  ·  2,860 reviews
Winner of the Hugo, Nebula, British Science Fiction, Locus and Arthur C. Clarke Awards.
On a remote, icy planet, the soldier known as Breq is drawing closer to completing her quest.
Once, she was the Justice of Toren - a colossal starship with an artificial intelligence linking thousands of soldiers in the service of the Radch, the empire that conquered the galaxy.
Now, an
Paperback, 386 pages
Published October 1st 2013 by Orbit (first published January 1st 2013)
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Popular Answered Questions

Fred Baba Looking back a sentence, the exchange goes:

“Doesn’t it bother you,” Strigan continued, “didn’t it ever bother you, that you’re slaves?”
Looking back a sentence, the exchange goes:

“Doesn’t it bother you,” Strigan continued, “didn’t it ever bother you, that you’re slaves?”
“The ships. The warships. So powerful. Armed. The officers inside are at your mercy every moment. What stops you from killing them all and declaring yourselves free? I’ve never been able to understand how the Radchaai can keep the ships enslaved.”

The question “Doesn’t it bother you... that you’re slaves?” could just as easily be posed by Breq or any ship AI to any of the humans subject to the rule of the Lord of Radch. And thus understanding how the Radchaai compel obedience in humans would also answer the question of how they compel obedience among ships (who are also sentient beings, with feelings and free will, who choose obedience over the alternatives). The main methods are:

1. Appeals to abstract principles: justice, propriety, benefit, and civilization.

2. Threat of physical harm to the ships, humans, and those they care about.

3. Explicit psychological tampering through AI programming, human "re-education", and the creation of ancillaries from dissidents and prisoners of war).(less)
Hélène Louise Second and third readings are always the best for me, but I need to wait some months before rereading a favorite book to appreciated the re-reading.…moreSecond and third readings are always the best for me, but I need to wait some months before rereading a favorite book to appreciated the re-reading. In this case I did reread AJ (which I first read in January 2014) before leaping greedily on AS :D
But actually I know a lot of big-readers-friends who can - and do - it!(less)

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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David Sven
Unexpected. When I started this book I thought I was looking at a 3 to 4 star book. Even by halfway I was still thinking 4 stars at the most. But really, it was always going to be a five star book and it took me to the 80% mark to grudgingly acknowledge this deserves a five star. I say grudgingly because this book is not my usual cup of tea.

Call me shallow and infantile but generally speaking, I like my space operas to have lots of space battles, lots of fighting/battle scenes with a plethora o
This book caught my eye mostly because it's been winning just about every award ever this year.

So I picked it up when I was on tour. And as soon as I started it, I could see why it was getting such attention. It's exceptionally well-written. I was almost immediately pulled in.

I should mention here, it's Science Fiction. I don't review much sci-fi these days because I mostly read fantasy. For the most part, what's where my taste lies these days.

But that wasn't always the case. When I was young
Zen Cho
Oct 11, 2013 Zen Cho rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: sff
Things I liked about ANCILLARY JUSTICE: a list

- Everyone is she (not everyone is actually she)

- The protagonist is a SPACESHIP

- There is a scene where a space station is mad at the protagonist and the space station throws a tantrum and a spaceship who likes the protagonist is like, “omg space station is such a jerk” and it is super cute omg

- A spaceship with FEELINGS

- People are hostile and angry at each other but then they become friends and then they are super LOYAL AND DEVOTED

- The spaceships
There’s a simple life lesson that I still haven’t really learned, and it is this: being good at making art doesn’t actually mean that you’re any good at teaching, explaining, or critiquing art.

The first example of this in my life was comparing a critique of the album “Closer to the Edge” (by the band Yes) with actual interviews of the band itself. The critique, which was written in an email to me from a friend of my father’s who is a music buff and a scholar of the poet Milton, was incredible. I
I'm almost wanting to give this five stars, because I LOVED it, but the first section of the book is very confusing ( in some ways by choice) and I think that could put some people off so there you go. 4 1/2 stars, ha!

This is a great sci-fi adventure following a character who is not man nor woman, and don't even try to figure it out, that's the confusing part. But the character is fomerly HUNDREDS of people, and a spaceship. All at once. Yeah, ok once you can wrap that around your head, it's SO
Most of my friends are married now and have 1 or 2 kids. I like kids, but once in a while you meet one of those kids that everyone adores and that is very clever and friendly, but for some reason I simply don't get along with that particular kid. Unfortunately, for me "Ancillary Justice" is that kid.

In "Ancillary Justice" we're following 2 plot lines for most of the novel. In the present storyline we follow Breq, the last physical manifestation of the ship "Justice of Toren's" complex AI. In the
Kyle Aisteach
OK, Ann Leckie owes my students an apology.

I picked this book up at Barnes & Noble because I know Ann and wanted to help make sure she moved copies of the book early in its release, knowing full well that I don't have time to do any pleasure reading until the semester is over. Well, I made the mistake of flipping it open, and now I'm four days behind in my grading. And it's all this book's fault.

Ann Leckie has a real gift for clarity which I admire greatly. This book should have been a mudd
This really seems to be a case of a bandwagon gone insane. I was looking forward to this book after seeing very high recommendations from a lot of high-profile people: Veronica Belmont, John Scalzi (I think?), Felicia Day, NPR books, I know I am forgetting more... and nearly every review here is five stars. How could I not love this one? Well, recently, I have discovered that I am really not fitting in with the mainstream. I have had terrible luck lately with ridiculously popular books and Ancil ...more
An interesting ride. Ancillary Justice is a book that slowly but steadily crept up on me. It took a bit of time to work it's magic, but there's no question that it does.

20 years ago, the Imperial Radch warship Justice of Toren was destroyed, taking everyone stationed on board with it. Everyone except Breq. Now Breq is cast adrift, the last surviving fragment of the ship's artificial intelligence with nothing but a thirst, for answers and for revenge on the Lord of the Radch herself, Anaander Mia
Chucked at 10%. I should have known better. How many times have I seen all those awards listed in a blurb and been suckered into trying a book?

I'm just not doing it. Maybe it gets better, but no. I'm not getting trapped into losing a couple of months of my life because I'm determined to finish a China Miéville/Gene Wolfe-type experience. Maybe I'm not smart enough to grasp this genre.

Or more likely, I just don't give a damn.
The pleasure I got from this far future tale from the perspective of an AI on a mission ripened over time. One reader friend found it missed some spark in the characters or emotional engagement that muted his satisfaction. But you have to expect an AI to fall short in endearing human characters. Thus, the mind bender for me was in how far I was led to identify with the hero as a fellow self up to a noble effort in life’s challenges. In the line of sci fi that makes you question what it means to ...more
I thought this had some really brilliant ideas that were cleverly executed. It's fantastically well written, particularly for a debut novel. It fell short of the five star mark for me because it just missed some element I can't quite put my finger on and I felt the ending didn't quite round off the way I would have liked it to.

The ancillary concept is really awesome. It took a while to figure it out but I've always preferred the style of world building that lets the world come to life around th
you know, one shuffles up and down the stacks at the bookstore and hopes each time that the next sf book one reads will:

be well-written
have at least one character you care about
be well-plotted
have intelligent commentary
include some aliens who are really alien, or,
include some humans who are not quite human and
leave you with something really knotty to think about.

actually finding one happens about once a year, and it feels like a gift from the gods.

in this case it's a gift from Ann Leckie, whom i
What's the point? Admittedly, science fiction isn't my favorite genre, but if you're looking for a novel with a concept that would be intriguing were it not the the novel's centerpiece, and completely unsupported by story - well, this is your book.

Ancillary Justice is barely more than its concept. The slim plot unfolds oh so slowly over over hundreds of pages, and the book ends just as the conflict is starting to heat up. Characterization is no more than actions and memories, and the concept its
Zachary Jernigan
Hmm. I’m somewhat torn on this one. Objectively, or as close to objective as I can get, I think it’s a 3.5 or maybe 4. It’s exceedingly well written and deep, not to mention willing to be difficult. It’s unqualified science fiction, meant for science fiction readers. It is undoubtedly a good book, no qualification needed.

And yet…

Subjectively, I’m at about a 3. And this feels weird to me, because I’m playing over in my mind what it has going for it, comparing it to the things I love and want in
Never have I gone into a book with so much expectation to be utterly disappointed. I think that if I hadn't seen all the rave reviews and up talk about the story and I went in unencumbered with expectation, it might have, maybe got a 3 star. For being a bit different.

The concept and idea is sound, it has had potential. Ship and her ancillaries soldiers, the political games and omnipotent tyrant. But it all fell very flat for me. I understand that part of the issue I have in the complete lack of
Richard Reviles Censorship Always in All Ways
Rating: 3* of five

The Publisher Says: On a remote, icy planet, the soldier known as Breq is drawing closer to completing her quest.
Once, she was the Justice of Toren - a colossal starship with an artificial intelligence linking thousands of soldiers in the service of the Radch, the empire that conquered the galaxy.
Now, an act of treachery has ripped it all away, leaving her with one fragile human body, unanswered questions, and a burning desire for vengeance.

Fantasy Review Barn

A book picked up purely on the hype, I would have skipped it otherwise. The cover blurb sounds ridiculous, the main character used to be a ship? What could that even mean? But in came the early reviews. They talked about many different things but seemed pretty unanimous in one aspect; the book was praised everywhere I looked.

But hype is a funny thing, and while it has often been enough to get me interested it just as often disappoints. Was this going to be one of those books i
Feb 17, 2014 Miriam rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Miriam by: Martha Wells
Shelves: science-fiction
One of the most intelligent, original, and complex works of science-fiction I've read in ages.
Standing on the shoulders of giants, author Anne Leckie has produced a mature, post-modern sci-fi gem.

Coming out of the gates with her debut novel, but with a lifetime of science fiction knowledge building and percolating up to the top, Leckie hit a home run and, more accurately, won the science fiction triple crown by grabbing the Hugo, the Nebula, and the Arthur C. Clarke, as well as a host of other awards and nominations.

So what’s all the fuss about?

Linking influences from Ursula Le Guin, Fra
Nov 04, 2014 Apatt rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: sf-f
This Hugo / Nebula / Clarke combo winner just demands to be read. I have been putting it off for a while on account of the price, new books cost more on the year of publication and I'm a skinflint. However, this book is just so damn hard to ignore. People keep going on about it in sf forums and now it is going to be a TV show! How am I going to keep up with the sci-fi Joneses if I don't read it?

Allow me to ramble on for another paragraph, I have a theory about sci-fi books which are suitable for
Mogsy (MMOGC)
3.5 stars at The BiblioSanctum

There are so many things I want to say about this debut novel by Ann Leckie, but first I just have to express my awe and admiration for some of the themes and concepts in this book. I went into Ancillary Justice after having heard a lot of praise for its originality and imaginative ideas, and now that I've finished it, I can only echo those sentiments.

The book follows Breq, a soldier who is more (and, I suppose, also less) th
"Grab handgun, shoot tyran'", that's the novel's essence. It isn't that easy, of course: the tyrant as well as the protagonist is facetted in multiple alter egos, which forms the main idea. Ann Leckie is really inventive how to bring this concept to the reader. And the tyrant is specially armored, the story spans several time levels and interleaved point of views.

My main problem: The novel simply didn't grab me at all - it was more urgent for me to cuddle my cat or do my tax than to read it. It
This one was very interesting! My brain struggled to cope with the whole concept of ancillaries and when the main character was watching and being in numerous places at once I found I really had to concentrate! And as for the last battle who was who and where???? Most of the time I did not even know which gender anyone was. None of these things were bad though, just highly original and thought provoking. I am most certainly up for the sequel.
This book, I think, is a "marmite book." People seem to love or hate it. For me, the book didn't work. I liked the ideas that Ms. Leckie put forward with a genderless society and having a single AI that can be "present" in multiple entities simultaneously, therefore having a much larger almost-human experience than a real human. I liked the idea of this causing conflict. But between the confusing place names (Rrrrrr, really?) and the bouncing back and forth between 2 parts of the main character' ...more
Nov 12, 2013 David rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: ambiguously-gendered protagonists, corpse-soldiers possessed by AIs
This is a very good space opera. It will appeal to lovers of space opera in its purest form, as well as more modern readers who appreciate seeing some updates in the science fictional universe since the Golden Age of space battles and Lensmen. How can I describe this book? Leckie is being frequently compared to Le Guin because of this book's novel approach to gender (more on that below), but while Leckie is certainly saying some things about power relationships and very indirectly about gender r ...more
Ancillary Justice is nothing if not ambitious. The main character is the remainder of a self-aware starship capable of diffuse thought through dozens of reanimated human shells, the story takes place in parallel over two time periods, scenes sometimes switch between locations paragraph-to-paragraph, and the main society has very, um, different views on gender.

In the present timeline, she is Breq, to outsiders seemingly human. In the flashback timeline, she is Justice of Toren, a self-aware troop
Io9 likes it, 'the mind blowing space opera you've been needing':

Big Idea:

No, it's not the same artist as Leviathan Wakes, although that one was probably trying to copy this artist, John Harris:

pg 50/409: I like it so far but I'm getting a little restless with the past timeline. Things like gender and identity might be confusing. Maybe the io9 review will help clear it up. Th
Executive Summary: This is an odd one that may not be for everyone but that I really enjoyed in the end.

Full Review
I had never heard of Ancillary Justice or Ann Leckie before about two weeks ago. If not for it being the November Sword & Laser pick, I may not have read it. I would have been missing out.

This one was slow to grab me. The protagonist does not have one point of view but many. How you ask? Well it's a sentient ship made up of hundreds of mobile units referred to as Ancillaries.
Adriaan Brae
Many have already mentioned the first-person-multiple viewpoint and gender-neutral language, so I'll just state that I felt both were brilliant ideas, very well executed in the story and leave it at that.

What struck me about this book, and pushed it from a 4-star 'cool SF story I really enjoyed' into the 'loved it' range was how it deals with loss, because for me, that was the core of the story - loss of power & position. Loss of friends and lovers, Loss of home, and the most terrifying of a
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Other Books in the Series

Imperial Radch (3 books)
  • Ancillary Sword (Imperial Radch, #2)
  • Ancillary Mercy (Imperial Radch, #3)
Ancillary Sword (Imperial Radch, #2) Night's Slow Poison (Imperial Radch, #0.5) She Commands Me and I Obey (Imperial Radch, #0.6) Ancillary Mercy (Imperial Radch, #3) Electric Velocipede 24

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“Thoughts are ephemeral, they evaporate in the moment they occur, unless they are given action and material form. Wishes and intentions, the same. Meaningless, unless they impel you to one choice or another, some deed or course of action, however insignificant. Thoughts that lead to action can be dangerous. Thoughts that do not, mean less than nothing.” 36 likes
“Luxury always comes at someone else’s expense. One of the many advantages of civilization is that one doesn’t generally have to see that, if one doesn’t wish. You’re free to enjoy its benefits without troubling your conscience.” 24 likes
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