The sequel to the amazing Ancillary Justice is just as (good lord) thought provoking and detailed as the original. If you didn’t like the first, you won’t like this. If you did like the first, you know, I wouldn’t be offended if you didn’t like the second.
Breq accomplished her goal of killing Anaander Mianaii. Sort of. It’s hard to kill a person when they have over three thousand bodies. But since there are two warring factions of the Lord of the Radch, she might as well side with the one that doesn’t want to kill her now. Anaander gives Breq a ship and sends her off to the Atheok system to stabilize it for the coming civil war. But of course, her crew does not know that they are now being commanded by an AI. A rogue AI at that. And the idea of justice that Breq has doesn’t exactly square with the local customs.
Ancillary Sword is another lesson in dialogue and personal relations. And how that translates to politics. The novel is all about the little actions and how they result in big choices. It’s a fantastic character study of humans, AIs, and the interactions between them. It’s also kind of boring.
For a sequel to a book about literally starting a civil war, there isn’t much surprise or suspense in this book. It feels like all set up. When the main character’s stated goal is to literally kill the leader of the universe, it’s kind of weird when she just faffs about on a strange planet for an entire novel. Solving mysteries and easing racial strife. Just feels like wasted time in a trilogy.
It’s great writing, don’t get me wrong. And we get some new characters and a little more information about the mysterious alien race the Presger. But you start to wonder why you’re spending so much time here. And for what purpose. It’s too small for a Fleet Captain to be handling. Here’s hoping the third gets us back on track.
3 out of 4 stars