I picked up this book after finishing the Ancillary trilogy. It takes place in the same world (the imperial Radch) that I wasn't ready to part with. It's not connected to the trilogy, and you don't need to read it to enjoy this book.
An ambitious young woman has just one chance to secure her future and reclaim her family's priceless lost artifacts in this stand-alone novel set in the world of the award-winning, New York Times bestselling Imperial Radch trilogy.
Though she knows her brother holds her mother's favor, Ingrid is determined to at least be considered as heir to the family name. She hatches an audacious plan — free a thief from a prison planet from which no one has ever returned, and use them to help steal back a priceless artifact.
But Ingray and her charge return to her home to find their planet in political turmoil, at the heart of an escalating interstellar conflict. Together, they must make a new plan to salvage Ingray's future and her world, before they are lost to her for good.
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I enjoyed the book, but not quite as much as the Ancillary trilogy. I'm not sure what exactly was lacking. The main character was interesting and well-developed, as well as imperfect, just the way I like them. Her family dynamics were toxic and wrong, but compelling. Besides, there is an arc there that gives that family some hope. Other characters felt real, too. The plot was gripping in the beginning, and later, maybe not as much, but still quite intriguing. There was family drama, political intrigue, power struggles, a mysterious person, and stupid, impulsive decisions that led to interesting and sometimes miserable places. In general, a lot of different events were going on.
The author provided an insight into some other cultures besides the Radchaai this time, and the world-building was nicely done. I loved exploring various traditions, beliefs, and values that sometimes collided with each other, and sometimes could be cleverly used to someone's advantage. We also learn a bit about the mysterious aliens — the Geck.
All in all, it was a good book, and I liked it. I'm not sure what exactly it was that made me like it less than the trilogy. Perhaps, it's nothing objective.
I don't know how to characterize it. It's not really a space opera, and it plays with a few themes, like prison break, inheritance, heist and political intrigue. Despite such a multitude of events and subjects, it didn't feel fast-paced or thrilling, but rather somehow quite slow.
You might enjoy the book if you like in-depth world-building that allows you to learn about various cultures, including alien ones, imperfect but fleshed out protagonists, family drama and political intrigue in space.
Ann Leckie is the author of the Hugo, Nebula, and Arthur C. Clarke Award winning novel Ancillary Justice. She has also published short stories in Subterranean Magazine, Strange Horizons, and Realms of Fantasy. Her story “Hesperia and Glory” was reprinted in Science Fiction: The Best of the Year, 2007 Edition edited by Rich Horton.
Ann has worked as a waitress, areceptionist, a rodman on a land-surveying crew, and a recording engineer. She lives in St. Louis, Missouri.
Featured image by SuttleMedia.