Release Date: 20131001
Publisher: Orbit Books
On a rural, backwater ice planet, the individual known as Breq is searching for a weapon that shouldn’t exist when her quest yields an unexpected find: Seivarden, a former lieutenant aboard the Radchaai ship Justice of Toren, dying alone in the snow. But Seivarden ought to have been dead for centuries – and Breq should know, as she used to be Justice of Toren, a powerful AI controlling not only a warship, but thousands of once-human ancillary bodies repurposed as Radchaai soldiers. Now, confined to just one body, Breq has a single plan: to take her vengeance on Anaander Mianaai, the many-bodied leader of the Imperial Radch. But when she takes Seivarden under her wing, the decision proves to have dangerous consequences for both of them: for Seivarden is an addict, untrustworthy and desperate, and Breq is pitting herself against the most powerful person in the galaxy.
Sometimes, books sneak up on you. They’re like papery leopards lurking in the darkness, unseen and unheard, until – WHAM! Suddenly you’re pinned to the lounge beneath several hundred pages’ worth of sleek, muscular prose gloved in velvet plotting and set off by a hypnotic, staring premise. This is what happened to me with Ancillary Justice, a book I bought – rather oddly, in hindsight – after seeing it given a rare double ten out of ten by The Book Smugglers, but without having actually read the review itself, meaning that I came to it with an expectation of quality, but lacking any notion of what it was actually about. Continue reading
“The blood-song rose with an unexpected tune, a warm hum mingling recognition with an impression of safety. He had a sense it was welcoming him home.”
Vaelin Al Sorna, warrior of the Sixth Order, called Darkblade, called Hope Killer. The greatest warrior of his day, and witness to the greatest defeat of his nation: King Janus’s vision of a Greater Unified Realm drowned in the blood of brave men fighting for a cause Vaelin alone knows was forged from a lie. Sick at heart, he comes home, determined to kill no more. Named Tower Lord of the Northern Reaches by King Janus’s grateful heir, he can perhaps find peace in a colder, more remote land far from the intrigues of a troubled Realm.
But those gifted with the blood-song are never destined to live a quiet life. Many died in King Janus’s wars, but many survived, and Vaelin is a target, not just for those seeking revenge but for those who know what he can do. The Faith has been sundered, and many have no doubt who their leader should be. The new King is weak, but his sister is strong. The blood-song is powerful, rich in warning and guidance in times of trouble, but is only a fraction of the power available to others who understand more of its mysteries. Something moves against the Realm, something that commands mighty forces, and Vaelin will find to his great regret that when faced with annihilation, even the most reluctant hand must eventually draw a sword.
Like the Terry Brooks cover revealed yesterday, I quite like the stylistic choice to use a rough, textured illustration reminiscent of more traditional hand-painted fantasy covers, like Darrell K. Sweet’s work in the ’80s (which was, despite modern opinion of his work, pretty darn cool.) Above that, it’s gritty (sigh) and in your face without falling entirely victim to the tired formula of hooded-man-looks-cool that I like to complain so loudly about. Continue reading
Ancillary Justice, the debut novel from Ann Leckie, first caught my attention thanks to its gorgeous John Harris cover art. It was hard to escape, and, frankly, antithetical to the idea that one shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. With a cover this good, it’s hard not to be immediately interested. Skip forward a few weeks, and Orbit Books, publisher of Ancillary Justice, noticed a trend on twitter: everybody loves Leckie’s book. And, by golly, they’re right.
So, naturally, I had to see what all the fuss was about, and picked up Ancillary Justice myself. They were right, they were so, so right. I’ll withhold my full opinion for a review, but Ancillary Justice is a bold, mind-twistingly adventurous SF tale with big ideas and so much confidence that it’s hard to believe it’s Leckie’s first novel. Come award season, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Leckie and Ancillary Justice all over the ballots. It’s that good.
So, I’ve gathered together some of the early reviews that nail exactly why I’m so excited about this book (and why I think you should be, too. Orbit’s had huge success with James S.A. Corey’s Expanse series, and it looks like they’re about to add another heavyweight to the mix with Leckie. It’s a damn good time to be an SF fan. Continue reading
Earlier this week, N.K. Jemisin revealed the cover and synopsis for her next novel, The Fifth Season. Since first debuting as a novelist with The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, Jemisin has been blessed with some of the most inspired art direction in current fantasy. Lauren Panepinto, Art Director at Orbit Books, is responsible for Jemisin’s covers, so I gathered her up and we discussed The Fifth Season and the process of evolving an author’s brand as they mature and move from series-to-series.
“Working on N. K. Jemisin books are the best kind of challenge for me,” said Panepinto. Jemisin’s books are often praised for their strong worldbuilding, approach to magic and uniquely drawn characters, which turns out to be both something of a curse and a blessing for an art director. But Panepinto is never one to back down from challenges. “Really strong, fleshed out characters inhabiting intricately thought-out worlds means there’s always a wealth of material to draw from for the covers,” she explained. Continue reading