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Ancillary Justice

(Imperial Radch #1)

3.97  ·  Rating details ·  89,056 ratings  ·  8,927 reviews
On a remote, icy planet, the soldier known as Breq is drawing closer to completing her quest.
Breq is both more than she seems and less than she was. Years ago, she was the Justice of Toren--a colossal starship with an artificial intelligence linking thousands of corpse soldiers in the service of the Radch, the empire that conquered the galaxy.
An act of treachery has ripp
ebook, 331 pages
Published October 1st 2013 by Orbit Books
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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?”
“The ship…more
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)
Kenneth Hindle-May I found the exact same thing. I read Ancillary Justice just before Ancillary Sword came out, so I read one and then the other and then went immediatel…moreI found the exact same thing. I read Ancillary Justice just before Ancillary Sword came out, so I read one and then the other and then went immediately back to the beginning and read both books again. I don't think I've ever done that before. I only finished Ancillary Mercy a couple of weeks ago and I'm already feeling the urge to go back and read the whole trilogy all over again, and I very rarely re-read books at all.

Part of the reason is the compelling characters and rich story, but for me it's probably how dense the books are with issues. One of my favourites is raised in the second book: wherever Breq goes she heads straight for the bottom of the heap and starts agitating. Her desire is to improve the lot of the downtrodden, but does the upheaval she ultimately causes actually achieve that? Are those people ultimately better off? It's a similar argument to the more common one of, is it better for a man to be free and destitute, or a well-looked after slave? It's an issue that should give those of us on the progressive side of the political fence pause for thought, and that's just one issue in these books (one that doesn't get much time on the page at all, either).(less)
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Nov 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Rick Riordan
Jan 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
David Sven
Oct 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favourites, sci-fi
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 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
Jan 27, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Zen Cho
Oct 11, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sff
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
J.L.   Sutton
Mar 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“If you’re going to make a desperate, hopeless act of defiance you should make it a good one.”

Lots of fun! 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
Dec 03, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
It’s complicated.

I bought Ancillary Justice awhile ago, knowing I needed to read it. Everyone, it seemed was raving, from the Hugo/Locus/Nebula Awards to the Incomparable Podcast to the friends who are responsible for 4.11 average rating. And while I get parts of the love–it’s far more readable than I expected–it feels very much like a first book, with the accompanying challenges in world-building and plotting.

There’s a dual narrative, a prior timeline and a current timeline. Leckie uses a class
“And you don’t like my saying that, but here’s the truth: 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.”
This novel won the science fiction Grand Slam in 2014, earning Hugo, Nebula, Locus and Arthur C. Clarke Awards. So no wonder it aims high, tackling a whole bunch of important and even existential questions and
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
Will M.
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
Feb 25, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Niki Hawkes - The Obsessive Bookseller
I’ve been systematically devouring as many of these sci-fi series as I can get my hands on (fueled by James S.A. Corey, Ann Aguirre, Martha Wells, and Rachel Bach, to name a few), and I’d been saving Ancillary Justice for a rainy day. I was certain I was going to love it… but unfortunately it fell a little short of my expectations.

For the first third of the book I thought I was having an issue with my ability to concentrate. I found the writing really dense and it was often difficult to figure o
Kyle Aisteach
Oct 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 muddled
Feb 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 one. 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 the
Nov 14, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Mir by: Martha Wells
Shelves: science-fiction
One of the most intelligent, original, and complex works of science-fiction I've read in ages. ...more
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
Sep 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Manuel Antão
Oct 21, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014
If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.

Warning: Rant follows.

Knowledgeable responses to SF require a certain apprenticeship; it’s impossible to approach SF criticism without a certain familiarity with many SF texts. Just as a wonderfully articulate casual reader cannot simply pick up “The Divine Comedy” or “The Name of the Rose” and begin a nuanced enjoyment of both books, a SF newbie must work her or his way into the specialized narrative structures and vocabulary of SF.
Kaylin (The Re-Read Queen)
DNF @ 34%

Whoops, it's my first DNF of the year. I WAS JUST SO BORED.


Buddy Read with Courtney! Nothing like starting the new year off with a little sci-fi! 🤖👽
Caro the Helmet Lady
Jan 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Caro by: i09
Shelves: 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
Althea Ann
Jun 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A new favorite author? It could be!

This is just exactly the kind of hard sci-fi that I like: it’s got the right balance of compelling, believable characters, serious examination of both theoretical and relevant social issues, and plenty of pure action with spaceships and blaster guns, all in an original and fascinating universe.
I am so glad that my book club decided to read this, because the initial description of the book I’d read didn’t capture my imagination at all. Somehow, with the review’
Apr 05, 2021 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: readers interested in a philosophical exploration of identity in an imperialist SF environment
Recommended to jade by: an employee from one of my fav book stores after asking for queer SF
“that,” i said, “is why i hate you.”

she laughed, as though i’d said something moderately witty. “if that’s what you’re willing to do for someone you hate, what would you do for someone you loved?”

i found i was incapable of answering.
ancillary justice tells the story of one lone soldier of the radch empire on an almost insurmountable quest of vengeance. why? this soldier was once many; an artificial intelligence controlling a warship called justice of toren and dozens of human bodies
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
August 2019 re-read: Upping this to five stars. Breq makes me feel feelings.

I remember where I was when I read this first time, and I distinctly remember reading the first third or so of this book and just being profoundly confused about what was going on, but also thinking to myself, when I re-read this, it's going to make so much more sense, and that turned out to be true. But what did surprise me on re-read is that not everything is completely clear, and I don't think it's meant to be. This
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Other books in the series

Imperial Radch (3 books)
  • Ancillary Sword (Imperial Radch, #2)
  • Ancillary Mercy (Imperial Radch, #3)

Articles featuring this book

Science fiction and fantasy have spawned some of the most imaginative plots and settings in existence. Makes sense, given that these genres are...
256 likes · 102 comments
“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.” 154 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.” 134 likes
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