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Ancillary Justice (Imperial Radch #1)

3.97  ·  Rating Details ·  43,885 Ratings  ·  5,583 Reviews
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, unans ...more
Paperback, 386 pages
Published October 1st 2013 by Orbit
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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)
Rose Agreed! I enjoyed my 2nd reading very much. I think partly because of the complex point of view and the ambiguous gendering, during a first read you…moreAgreed! I enjoyed my 2nd reading very much. I think partly because of the complex point of view and the ambiguous gendering, during a first read you really have to pay attention to how the story is structured. I found that this distracted me a little bit from the themes, which I was more able to focus on in this second read. I've rarely enjoyed a 2nd read more, and will re-read the following two books right away!(less)

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Nov 16, 2014 Patrick rated it it was amazing
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
David Sven
Oct 24, 2013 David Sven rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi, favourites
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
Rick Riordan
Jan 23, 2017 Rick Riordan rated it it was amazing
Ann Leckie's series drops us right into a universe both familiar and terrifyingly different. It may take you a while to understand what is going on, because many of your assumptions about point-of-view will be stripped away. This is because the main character Breq is an ancillary -- a human body that has been 'slaved' to the artificial intelligence of a giant spaceship, in this case Justice of Torren. In the empire called the Radch, each spaceship is sentient, crewed by legions of ancillaries wh ...more
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
Zen Cho
Oct 11, 2013 Zen Cho rated it really liked it
Shelves: sff
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 27, 2014 Felicia rated it really liked it
Shelves: sci-fi
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
Oct 19, 2013 Nathaniel rated it liked it
NOTE: I feel bad changing my rating and my review after so many people have liked this review, but one of the commenters below convinced me that the central arguments I made in my original 2-star review were invalid. And, at risk of breaking the entire Internet, I decided to listen to a reasonable argument and evidence and consider changing my mind. In addition, I decided to reread (listen to, actually) the book in preparation for reading the sequel Ancillary Sword as my due diligence as a 2015 ...more
Jan 10, 2014 Doctordalek rated it did not like it
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
Will M.
May 02, 2014 Will M. rated it it was ok
I hope no one kills me because I know most of the people who read this really enjoyed it in the end. This is another one of my unpopular opinions, so bear with me as I try to explain what went wrong, for me.

Every time I pick up a sci-fi novel, I always read the synopsis. I like my sci-fi brutal and heavy on battles and politics. It's the mixture of both that made me really like the genre to begin with. The premise of this novel didn't seem like it was going to offer no action at all till the end
J.L.   Sutton
Mar 21, 2015 J.L. Sutton rated it it was amazing
Before reading Ancillary Sword (the 2nd book in the Imperial Radch Series), I decided to re-read Ancillary Justice, a thoroughly compelling space opera and debut novel from Ann Leckie. I enjoyed Leckie’s depiction of One Esk whose story is told over three different time periods spanning a thousand years. There are also different versions of One Esk, who is both the consciousness/sentience of the Radchaai spaceship, Justice of Toren, and ancillary versions of this ‘self.’ These points of view tak ...more
Dec 03, 2014 Lyn rated it liked it
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
Feb 25, 2014 Chris rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: Pretentious sci-fi fans
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.
Kyle Aisteach
Oct 14, 2013 Kyle Aisteach rated it it was amazing
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
Nov 14, 2013 Lee rated it it was ok
Shelves: science-fiction
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
Oct 19, 2013 Beth rated it did not like it
Shelves: reviewed
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
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
Mar 16, 2017 Gavin rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sci-fi
This was the best sci-fi book I've read in a long time. It was one of those rare books that got the blend of ideas and story perfect. It made you think but also engaged and entertained.

The premise of the story was a good. On a remote icy planet a lone individual is closing in on the tools that will finally give them a shot at the vengeance they have longed for for nearly two decades. Any stranger would assume the women going by the name of Breq was ex-military. They would be right. What they co
Sep 27, 2013 Ryandake rated it it was amazing
Shelves: the-good-shit
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
Jan 12, 2014 Miriam rated it it was amazing
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.
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
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
Richard Derus
Sep 02, 2014 Richard Derus rated it liked it
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.

Oct 27, 2014 Apatt rated it liked it
Shelves: sci-fi
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
Caro M.
Jan 22, 2017 Caro M. rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Caro by: i09
Shelves: favorites, s-f, 2017-reads
I feel it in my fingers
I feel it in my toes
Imperial Radch is all around me
And so the feeling grows
It's written on the wind
It's everywhere I go, oh yes it is
So if you really love me
Come on and let me finish the damn trilogy!
Silly, I know. Ok, adding some seriousness here just in case you're still reading and expecting me to come to my senses.

This is a very good sci-fi story, with very interesting ideas and if plot drags on you a little bit in the beginning because of all "she/her" (literally) go
Oct 02, 2013 Matthew rated it did not like it
If I had a shelf for space operas I would not place this on that. Everyone hails this as a groundbreaking and engrossing new space opera, but I have no idea why. I suppose the final chapter fits within that genre, but the story itself is really just a revenge tale set in a couple of different spots within a (galactic) empire. Space operas are romantic, dramatic, large scale, sometimes epic. The stakes are high as can be. Of course there are "anti space operas," but this novel is not that, and no ...more
Oct 24, 2013 Andreas rated it it was ok
"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
Sarah Anne
This was my third read of this book and I still love it. Original review below.

This book was not at all what I expected and I'm really kind of glad about that. I was expecting space battles and conquest and things like that. What I got, to my absolute delight, was a character driven story about the surviving member of a multi-body AI - and her thirst for revenge. Which was awesome. The story flips back and forth between the present and the events that led up to the AI's current situation. I thou
Feb 14, 2015 Phrynne rated it really liked 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.
Nov 09, 2013 terpkristin rated it it was ok
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
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Other Books in the Series

Imperial Radch (3 books)
  • Ancillary Sword (Imperial Radch #2)
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“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.” 92 likes
“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.” 83 likes
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