It’s not every day a debut novel by an author you’d never heard of before derails your entire afternoon with its brilliance. But when my review copy of Ancillary Justice arrived, that’s exactly what it did ... does many things extremely well ... Leckie’s prose is clear and muscular, with a strong forward impetus, like the best of thriller writing. It grabs you and urges you onwards. And her interleaved narrative is both clever and well-executed: clever, because alternating past and present heightens the novel’s tension, ratcheting up the what happens next? factor, and well-executed because most of the breaks and pauses seem entirely natural, rather than forced ... Leckie writes a rousing climax and sticks the dismount ... As for worldbuilding: Leckie’s really good at it ... both an immensely fun novel, and a conceptually ambitious one: it has many layers and many levels at which it can be enjoyed. And I can’t hardly wait for the sequel.
... deserves its awards and acclaim. The series is a stunning achievement that belongs on anyone’s 'must-read' list, even if they aren’t necessarily fans of science fiction ... Breq can be an off-putting character at times, demonstrating minimal levels of emotional warmth ... These at-times-jarring shifts in points of view unashamedly make demands upon the reader’s attention, but those demands are well worth the effort: they provide a narrative scope that remains grounded in the experiences of its protagonist while offering Leckie the luxuries (and advantages) afforded to a third-person perspective ... thoughtful, exciting, well paced, fascinating, and awe inspiring in its narrative intricacies. It exemplifies not only what the best space opera can achieve, but also the best of what science fiction can offer.
... assured, gripping and stylish ... the tale of an empire, and in its smallest a character study, and part of debut novelist Anne Leckie's achievement is how she handles her protagonists in both of those contexts ... Though framed like '70s grindhouse — there was a setup, and someone's out to clean the slate — things unfold studiously, reminiscent of the deliberation underscoring Ursula Le Guin's The Left Hand of Darkness ... Each character adds texture to the picture that slowly emerges ... The universe of Ancillary Justice is complex, murky and difficult to navigate — no bad thing, as Leckie's deft sketches hint at worlds beyond, none of them neat ... A space opera that skillfully handles both choruses and arias, Ancillary Justice is an absorbing thousand-year history, a poignant personal journey, and a welcome addition to the genre.
Ann Leckie has written a believable, genderless narrative voice, confidently and consistently in a novel nearly 400 pages long. She has constructed a society in which gender is irrelevant, even down to a language that lacks gendered words. This is beyond refreshing: it is game-changing, a major technical achievement. I often rage about the older sf novelists’ failure of vision. They spent their creative energies thinking through the technical implications of an invention, yet still assumed that society would continue into the 2300s as if it were the 1950s. By showing that gender isn’t necessary, Leckie has made a fundamental change in how to write about people in a future society ... Leckie is a natural, skilled storyteller, not a wannabe author. This novel is a classic page-turner, for the plot’s excitement, drama, tragedy and diabolical intrigue. It is also profoundly intelligent, because the beautifully imagined sociological framework for the Radch drives the action, and shows us how and why a person must act in this or that way. There is a little bagginess and second-guessing during the action in the second half of the novel, with portentous things being said by one character, and nodded at by another, leaving the reader none the wiser. Not that it matters: everything is explained and we hang on for the pleasure of the ride ... Leckie has found a way to relate the human and familiar to the scale of her epic plot.
... it is a great joy to find Ann Leckie, who not only writes with a strong, clear voice, but who writes science fiction that is intelligent, inventive, and richly textured ... a simple tale of intrigue, betrayal, and vengeance but it is set in a future world that is finely drawn and beautifully imagined ... t is the detailed world-building of the Radch and its surrounding human and alien polities that sets Ancillary Justice apart from most sci-fi you will find on the shelves. The cultures, the religions, the songs, the clothing, the languages—all beautifully done ... [Leckie] demonstrates a mastery of the technology of her world and trusts the reader to know enough science (or at least to have read enough sci-fi) to know what she means when she says a character will 'take the tether' or 'open a gate' in the appropriate context ... is not without some faults. The plot develops a definite wobble about three-quarters of the way through when Breq seems to realise what the reader has been uncomfortably aware of for some time, that her plan is probably completely futile. This makes the ending seem a little fortuitous for our hero. It is an ending that also raises the difficult question of whether, given the devastating consequences that must follow, Breq did a good thing or a bad thing—a question it would be good to see addressed in subsequent volumes ... The fact that Breq is an AI is part of the charm of the book and the character's peculiar ways of thinking are very nicely and consistently portrayed; however, the story is a third person telling from Breq's perspective and, after a while, the flat, almost emotionless voice of the narrator becomes wearing ... One longs for some more emotional color, for a less monotonous voice. It is to the author's credit that she maintains Breq's voice to the very end (a small technical triumph, actually), but especially during moments of high drama that absence of emotion creates a disconnect between Breq and the reader ... Nevertheless, this is an excellent book by a writer who deserves a large and loyal following. It was an impressive first novel. By most writers' standards, it would be an impressive last novel.
... enjoyable ... Leckie does a very good job of setting this complex equation up in not many pages, letting detail build on detail ... As the action picks up, one just knows there’s going to be some battering and bruising out on the shoulder of Orion ... Leckie’s novel cast of characters serves her well-plotted story nicely. This is an altogether promising debut.
A double-threaded narrative proves seductive, drawing the reader into the naïve but determined protagonist’s efforts to transform an unjust universe. Leckie uses familiar set pieces—an expansionist galaxy-spanning empire, a protagonist on a single-minded quest for justice—to transcend space-opera conventions in innovative ways. This impressive debut succeeds in making Breq a protagonist readers will invest in, and establishes Leckie as a talent to watch closely.