melita66: (ship)
Whew, I just could not seem to get my act together and post.

I re-read some more Laurie R. King: The Beekeeper's Apprentice and A Monstrous Regiment of Women. I dearly love me some Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes and am very much looking forward to The Murder of Mary Russell, due out next spring.

I then scarfed down Ann Leckie's Ancillary Mercy. It's a quieter novel, in some ways, very domestic but with an interesting twist at the end that I didn't anticipate. I'm sorry that currently there are no plans for more Breq although Leckie does plan more stories in the Radchaai universe.

Stephanie Burgis has a short story (novelette?) out, "Undead Philosophy 101" which was entertaining (but not Kat, darn it!).

I then started, but didn't finish Zen Cho's Sorceror to the Crown. I liked it fine, but never really felt a burning desire to find what's going to happen to the characters, so it got dropped for another book. I'll try to finish it at some point.

Also started (and closer to completion at 78%), was Diane Duane's Life Boats, a novel in her Young Wizards series. Nita and Kit (and Dairine, Tom, Carl, and many other wizards from previous books) are sent to a planet who's binary companion/moon is about to blow up, annihilating anyone left on the planet. An effort has already begun to "terraform" other worlds for the natives and transport them, but a significant number are refusing to go. Nita and Kit are tasked with helping maintain the world gates that are shuttling people to the new worlds.

It was dropped (I will finish it next, likely) to read the eARC (electronic advanced reader copy, like a beta version) of Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen by Lois McMaster Bujold. I characterized this to someone who just whipped through the Miles books in the last year, as "the story of two people who were devastated by Aral's death and are now, 3 years later, ready to move on and see where life will take them." It's set on Sergyar and focuses on Cordelia and Jole. Jole was aide to Aral, then became Admiral of the Sergyar system several years prior. Miles, and family, does make a brief appearance.

Next up: Jeweled Fire by Sharon Shinn and Black Wolves by Kate Elliott.
melita66: (ship)
I believe I'm missing at least one book, but it would have been a reread.

**SPOILERS for Ancillary Justice**

Yea!!! Ann Leckie's second novel, Ancillary Sword, finally came out in October. The first, Ancillary Justice, took home a bunch of awards last year--deservedly so. This book continues to follow Breq as she takes up with one of factions of her emperor, Anaander Mianaai. Mainaai has multiple cloned bodies, which have now split among how to maintain, or not, the Radchaai empire. Breq is given control of a small area--the only duty she would take because the sister of someone she killed lives there.

Once there, she finds several other mysteries and, of course, problems that she will try to fix or figure out. As many other reviewers have said, it's a much more interior book. Breq appears to have had a very solitary existence for about 20 years after losing her AI and other bodies and has to now re-adjust to dealing with a lot of contact. We find out more about the aliens through a very, very strange translator who shows up. Anyway, recommended, recommended, recommended.

I also reread Patricia Wrede's Magician's Ward which is set in an alternative Regency London. Kim has been rescued from the streets by an aristocrat and made his ward. Kim has the ability to become a wizard, and Merrill (Mairelon) will help her. A sweet, fun little story.

I then felt in the mood for more historical fantasy and reread Guy Gavriel Kay's A Lion in Al-Rassan. Set in an alternative almost-Reconquista Spain, it follows a young Kindath (Jewish-analog) doctor as she gets caught up in the struggle between the Jaddites (Christian-analog) and the Asharites (Muslims) in Spain. Rodrigo Belmonte is "El Cid" and Ammar ibn Khairan is a "renaissance man" (so to say!) among the Asharites. It's my favorite Kay book and the one I reread most often. The characters are beautifully done.

I'm still in the midst of Lord of the Two Lands by Judith Tarr. This one is set just before and while Alexander the Great conquers Egypt. Meriamon, a priestess and daughter of Nectanebo, comes to Alexander to ask him to becomes Pharaoh.
melita66: (ship)
I kept seeing recommendations for a new book by Ann Leckie called Ancillary Justice. I don't remember if it was called space opera, but certainly it's space-set. The Radch is an ancient civilization. The language is genderless, but defaults to female, or at least the main character, Breq, does. To fuel the Radchaai civilization, and keep it stable and rich, they practiced annexations. An annexation is a take-over of a planet or smaller civilization. During it, everyone who might be a threat or just cause problems are killed or frozen so they can be turned into ancillaries. Ancillaries are part of a multi-bodied AI. The Radchaai ships (and stations) are AI and generally use ancillaries under control of a human captain and lieutenants.

Somewhat before the book opens, the head of the Radch, Anaander Mianaai, has announced that annexations will stop and the aptitudes (tests that decide your career) will be opened up--anyone can become anything--when before it was only the best and most important families whose children got the best jobs.

The books weaves together two stories. In the first, ancillaries from the battleship Justice of Toren attends her lieutenant, Awn, on a recently annexed planet. In the second, it's twenty years later, and one of the ancillaries, One Esk Nineteen (Breq), is now trying to take revenge for earlier events.

The (non-)emphasis on gender is very intriguing. The Radch don't really care, fashion is neutral. Breq is traveling outside Radch space so has to care about it--as people get upset when mistakes are made, but just really doesn't understand. I found it quite jarring early on in the book when Breq is referring to someone as she and her, then another character describes the person as bearded. That wore off, and I quite enjoyed it later. As another reviewer pointed out, we don't know what gender Breq's body is. It's never an issue.

Breq is now a soldier without a job but she has decided on a purpose and everything it driving her to fulfill that purpose. She ends up with a companion when she rescues a lost Radchaai, Seivarden, who was one of her lieutenants, a thousand years earlier. Seivarden had been in a ship accident and frozen for that long and is now adrift. Her (actually his) family now merged with another, no career, all friends and close family dead. She had escaped the Radch and then started taking drugs. Breq rescues her and they end up becoming friends, of a sorts.

I don't want to say much more, because of possible spoilers, but this is an excellent book and will hopefully make a lot of award nominee lists this year.

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November 2016

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