Book Review: Ancilliary Justice by Ann Leckie

Ancillary Justice is the first book of Ann Leckie’s Imperial Radch Trilogy. An intelligent and thought provoking Space Opera. A real SciFci must read!


OK, I’ll just get it right of my chest: this Ann Leckie blew my mind! Ann Leckie’s Ancillary Justice is the first book of an epic trilogy with story angle I have not seen before. To put it in one sentence: Ancillary Justice tells the story of a multibody form of artificial intelligence (AI) that ends up trapped in one of its many bodies and goes out to get revenge in a world where gender distinction is not embedded in language and sociopolitical status determines just about everything. Yep… crazy cool.

“nineteen years, three months, and one week before I found Seivarden in the snow, I was a troop carrier orbiting the planet Shis’urna.”

Ancillary Justice, as said, is about AI, but not in a Terminator/Skynet familiar fashion. It is a whole new approach. The main character, Justice of Toren or Breq, is a living ship and its ancillaries – or corpse soldiers (reanimated bodies of the inhabitants conquered worlds) –  at the same time, sharing a single consciousness. Breq is millennia old and has been separated from it’s collective by a traumatic event. She – all characters in the book are referred to as “she” – is out to kill the Lord of the Radch. The emperor. Dictator. The supreme authority. The most important of houses. And more…

The story of Breq moves between different perspectives and time periods. Sometimes you read the view from the millennia old ship Justice of Toren. Sometimes from the perspective of the autonomous and single bodies Breq. The book is constructed intelligently. Ann Leckie doesn’t strive to explain it all. After reading I often pondered the questions thebook raises for days. What’s the obsession with gloves?

Social Critique

Besides a great science fiction space opera, Ancillary Justice is also an analysis of social construct. Wat happens, for instance, when gender differentiation doesn’t exist? What happens to the story? What happens to the readability? And it examines the corruption of a large and complex system where the higher up are all about defending their position in the hierarchy and those below the highest level are starting to take those positions away.

All in all, Ancillary Justice is a great book. I can’t wait to read  the rest of the trilogy.

If you are interested, you can get the book right here: Ancillary Justice (Imperial Radch)

About the Author Paul