Breq, formerly the AI controlling the warship Justice of Toren, is now confined to one body, an officer of the Radch, commanding the ship Mercy of Kalr, and has been sent off on the only mission she would have willingly accepted. Her assignment is to control a new outbreak of the spreading crisis in the Radch Empire, caused by the conflict between two perfectly legitimate instances of Anaander Mianaai, Lord of the Radch. Her mission is to right the wrong she did, when she killed Lt. Awn, an excellent officer she greatly valued, in cold blood.
Ancillary Sword (Imperial Radch #2), by Ann Leckie (author), Adjoa Andoh (narrator)
Hachette Audio, October 2014
Review by Lis Carey: This is the second book in the trilogy begun in the 2014 Best Novel Hugo winner, Ancillary Justice. Breq, having survived the confrontation between the two parts of Anaander Mianaai, is now in command of Mercy of Kalr, and off to contain another part of the spreading crisis at Athoek. While there, she hopes to also protect and offer some sort of compensation to the sister of her much-loved Lt. Awn, whom she was forced to kill.
At Athoek, she finds an already tricky political situation exacerbated by the closing of the gates and the news that there are at least two perfectly legitimate “Lords of the Radch” now in open conflict with each other. It takes longer to discover that underneath the existing and new political conflicts, and ordinary class conflict and exploitation, there’s a truly horrifying corruption hidden here.
Did I mention there’s another ship in the system, Sword of Atagaris, of questionable loyalties? And a little error in judgment by Atagaris‘ Captain results in the death of a translator/representative from the frighteningly powerful aliens, the Presger.
And while juggling all that, Breq is confronting her odd status as an ex-AI, ex-ancillary, now in command of a ship rather than a part of it. It’s a sometimes-unsettling experience for her, and at first her crew, except for old companion Seivarden, do not know what to make of her.
There’s a lot going on here, in character development, revealing more about the history and culture of the Radch, and action as the conflict between the Mianaais and even older tensions in the Radch empire play out.
I’m looking forward to the third volume, Ancillary Mercy.