Imperial Radch Trilogy Review

A book review at last! In fact, it's three books. I present, Ann Leckie's Imperial Radch Trilogy:

Look at that glorious artwork, stretching over all three volumes.

Look at that glorious artwork, stretching over all three volumes.

I read the first book in the series, Ancillary Justice, some time ago, instantly fell in love with it and received the next two books for Christmas (2016). I had to space out reading the other two over the next year, only because I didn't want to be in a state where I'd finished reading them, suffering the Agony of Completion. So it results in me only finishing the trilogy very recently. And it gets a big five thumbs up from me. Yes, I have five hands, what of it? I tell a lie, I have just one hand. With five thumbs.

I found it to be a hard read only because it fills my head with so many ideas for my own writing. I was reading the first one around the same time as I was getting started on my current project (2016's NaNoWriMo effort) and both books are about an AI that's gone a bit rogue. A maverick, you might say. Or not. It's great to read something that is so directly inspiring to you, and a great example that what you want to create is viable. It's also reassuring that they're very different, it doesn't fall into the category of, 'They stole my idea... before I wrote mine!' but more into, 'People DO want to read these stories, because this one is awesome!'

What's interesting about the three books as a whole is the dialogue and the language use. For the most part, the prose is quite functional, but given that it's mostly told from the POV of this AI that has a bit of the old omniscience going on, it really immerses you into their life, how they perceive the world. This is then wonderfully contrasted by the dialogue of the other characters, how they treat Breq, especially the Presger translator in the third volume, and their very eccentric ways, eating directly from a koi pond for example. It's the smaller details that build the world, in particular how the Radchaai use pronouns. They don't use gendered words in their language so the book defaults to she throughout (a welcome change in itself) and then they have to guess genders if they're forced to use another language dealing with other species. It's a small, mundane detail of Radchaai life that effectively builds the world for you far more effectively than a meandering description of their space ship. Oh, and the tea. SO MUCH TEA.

So go read it, they've been out for ages, I'm late to the party, so what?? I need to get the new one now.