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Publisher's Summary

Seeking atonement for past crimes, Breq takes on a mission as captain of a troublesome new crew of Radchai soldiers, in the sequel to Ann Leckie's NYT best-selling, award-winning Ancillary Justice. A must listen for fans of Ursula K. Le Guin and James S. A. Corey.

"There are few who write science fiction like Ann Leckie can. There are few who ever could." (John Scalzi)

Breq is a soldier who used to be a warship. Once a weapon of conquest controlling thousands of minds, now she has only a single body and serves the emperor.

With a new ship and a troublesome crew, Breq is ordered to go to the only place in the galaxy she would agree to go: To Athoek Station to protect the family of a lieutenant she once knew - a lieutenant she murdered in cold blood.

Ann Leckie's Imperial Radch trilogy has become one of the new classics of science fiction. Beautifully written and forward thinking, it does what good science fiction does best, taking listeners to bold new worlds with plenty explosions along the way.

©2014 Ann Leckie (P)2014 Hachette Audio

Featured Article: 12 of the Best Sci-Fi Series in Audio


From the furthest reaches of space to the microbiology of pandemics and gene manipulation, to the future implications of technology for societies similar to our own, science fiction is a fascinating genre that offers listeners a wide variety of ways to access its themes. In looking for the best sci-fi audiobook series, it can be difficult to know where to start due to the genre's sheer number of iterations and variations. But what these series have in common is an acute devotion to telling a good story, as well as fully building out the worlds therein. The writing is enhanced by the creative and impassioned narration.

What listeners say about Ancillary Sword

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Good, but the shift in pronunciation was jarring.

I enjoyed the book, but the difference in pronunciation between Justice and Sword was jarring. I greatly preferred Justice's versions, as they felt more smooth and understandable.

23 people found this helpful

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Narrator brought it to life

This is a change from the previous book, more of a slow burning conspiracy and procedural story where we find out more about Breq and what sort of "person" she is. It is much less of an adventure than Justice, but still filled with great characters and a vivid sense of place.

6 people found this helpful

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great story, great narration

Would you listen to Ancillary Sword again? Why?

Yes. The narrator, Adjoa Andoh, brings out the emotion behind the words, the story line is fascinating, and the characters are complex enough to remain interesting, relevant, and surprising.

What did you like best about this story?

The deepening of the understanding of Breq's situation, its pathos, her courage, and the relationships between the characters. The portrayal of the ancillaries, the relationship of Ship to its officers and staff, and the overall interpretation of the relationship of AI's to the people they serve, are all wonderful. I also love the "Jane Austen" quality of the story; contrary to some other reviewers, I am fascinated by the details of tea sets and manners and clothing!

What does Adjoa Andoh bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

She brings out the emotion behind the words, and has a delightful accent of her own, in addition to the ones she creates for her other characters. I disliked the narration of the first volume, so very flat, probably intentionally, though I got used to it towards the end. When I read negative reviews of the change in narrator for volume 2, I was afraid it would be even worse, but to my delight it is a narrator I've heard before, and her thoughtful reworking of the pronunciation of the names and places, so different from those in volume 1, seems authentic. Her portrayal of the emotions of even the minor characters, although perhaps a bit over the top sometimes, makes them living beings.

Any additional comments?

Kudos to the new narrator! And on to volume 3.

4 people found this helpful

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Fantastic continuation

Adjoa provides an exceptional and exceptionally appropriate voice. The story picks up where the last book left us and moves steadily through a captivating and rich story. I'm beginning the third book immediately.

3 people found this helpful

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An enjoyable story - if one can get past the voice

The narrator's choice of voices for the characters was hard to stomach a lot of the time, with the inflection and pitch making it difficult to understand some of the delivery, and the ear-gratingly high pitched tone she used for most of the characters could be almost painful through the earbuds - but her deliverance of the spirit of the text seemed mostly appropriate. Having listened to the first audiobook, I found it interesting that some character and place names were pronounced significantly differently between books, as well.
The story itself, as in the first book, was excellent and enjoyable, however :-)

15 people found this helpful

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pronunciation changes distracted me

the change of narrator and the pronunciation differences kept screwing me up, every time she pronounced something differently than the first narrator my mind kept correcting her. it became very distracting.

27 people found this helpful

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Oh god the narration was awful

How could the performance have been better?

As others have noted, the narrator pronounces names very differently than the narrator for Ancillary Justice. Perhaps the new pronunciations are closer to Ms. Leckie's desired pronunciations, but I'd already gotten used to the previous narrator's.

More importantly, the narrator chose a high, screachy voice to use for Anaander Mianaai, the ruler of the far-flung star empire that is the center of the series. It's grating in the extreme, particularly for a character that's a power figure (or was in the first book).

I gave up listening after less than 10 minutes and will read the book rather than listen.

20 people found this helpful

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Jane Austen in Space

All of the really novel ideas and concepts here were inherited from the preceding story, Leckie’s multiply-awarded "Ancillary Justice”. With all the potential themes and angles this novel could have delved, I was disappointed to find that it was basically a stationary episode in that regard. Fascinating dimensions to and implications of divided personality were hinted, but never delivered. The stylistic convention of Leckie’s gender-neutral society, The Radch, to use female pronouns exclusively was fascinating when first employed in ‘Justice', but mostly confusing when revisited here. That combined with a slow-moving introspective plot and an overtly etiquette-oriented society often brought to mind sitting-room scenes from Jane Austen. While the climax did redeem my opinion considerably, I found myself really laboring to get through the final third of the book, which before that scene, devoted more pages to describing tea sets than anything martial, militaristic, or remotely violent, despite the majority of the settings and characters all being active-duty Imperial Navy.

The narrative takes no chronological jumps forward or backward through the timeline, and proceeds in present tense following the events of ‘Justice’. This means that the returning protagonist, Breq, remains a lone fragment of her former multi-bodied self, and can only give a conventional single POV narration, unlike the more elaborate one from ‘Justice’. Despite this, she frequently does have the next best thing through the technological aid of the multi-perspective spaceship under her command. This leads to many sly observations of dispersed characters, and a lot of speculation on their various fluctuating feelings and guesses at inner moods and motivations. With the other multi-bodied character, Anaander Mianaai, largely absent from ‘Sword’, there’s not as much opportunity left to explore this theme.

I’m also a bit surprised that Leckie didn’t set the reader up for a dramatic twist that involved revealing one or more character genders, after first subtly leading us in the opposite direction. Since there are multiple non-Radch characters who speak plural-gender native languages, this distinction could be delivered via their dialogue and is an example of the power of the written word has over cinema and other storytelling art forms. I think many will be comforted that sufficient intrigue and mysterious threads were left unanswered to fuel subsequent stories in the ‘Ancillaryverse’, but I hope they take broader, riskier leaps in the stakes and consequences.

12 people found this helpful

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Breq takes command

Ancillary Sword, book 2 of Ann Leckie's Imperial Raddch series has Breq from book 1, the former ship AI, now confined to a single human body on a mission. She is adopted and commissioned by one version of the empress with a ship and ordered to protect a region of space with a planet and an orbiting station. Breq finds the station in disarray, a slack military unit, and a planet with a provincial attitude bordering on the antebellum South with an assortment of non-Raddch citizens living with involuntary servitude and treated as savages. As she tries to "do the right thing" she encounters resistance and eventually uncovers a sinister plot that places her and her ship at risk.

Leckie continues the themes from the first installment with advanced AIs controlling ships and stations as well as individuals or ancillaries. The main race does not distinguish genders and are likely hermaphroditic with the nearly exclusive use of female pronouns. The confusion over other races' correct pronoun choice suggest unfamiliarity with the concept. There are many political overtones with an over emphasis on civilized versus savage that can become tiresome. At the same time, the Raddch empire is clearly overreaching with distant provinces proving difficult to maintain. The internal conflict with the empress herself appears to reflect the willingness and unwillingness to accept this developing situation. Breq does have a tendency to take the moral high ground to Himalayan heights and while there is closure with this tale, the setup for the next installment is quite clear.

The narration is a bit strained at time. Much of this is beyond the control of the narrator: names are quite difficult to pronounce (in this case, simply seeing the name would be easier than attempting to sound out) and laxity over proper pronoun choice can confuse the action. On the other hand, character distinction is less than optimal and many are related in strained, overly dramatic accents.

2 people found this helpful

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Extremely frustrated with narration

Would you try another book from Ann Leckie and/or Adjoa Andoh?

After Ancillary Justice, I am hooked on Ann Leckie, but will not be able to finish the series in audio format.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Ancillary Sword?

Could not finish. Very disappointed.

What didn’t you like about Adjoa Andoh’s performance?

Pronunciation changes made between book 1 and book 2 are extremely frustrating. After internalizing all the names as pronounced in Justice, I felt alienated by the new a-a pronunciations. Also having trouble with the screechy voice chosen for Miaanaai, hurts my ears and the character talks a lot... First narrator was much better, dismayed to see the new narrator is on the third book as well, will likely give up on this recording and switch to a paper book.

What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

Frustration

2 people found this helpful