FeatherPenClipArtThis novel was published by Orbit US/Orbit UK.

Breq has just been promoted to Fleet Captain and granted the ship Mercy of Kalr by Anaander Mianaai, the Lord of the Radch. Breq is allowed to choose three officers and assigned to secure the Athoek system. Breq is an AI in a human body, the last ancillary of the ship Justice of Toren, and the Lord of the Radch is a multibody intelligence that has recently exceeded her capacity to control all her bodies, resulting in a civil war. On the way to Athoek, Breq realizes Mianaai has installed herself in one of the officers, and has the implant forcibly removed. Once there, she interfaces with the local government, attempting to make sure conditions on the station and on the planet are shipshape. There are issues. The station has a large number of homeless people housed in an Undergarden space without supplies, utilities or maintenance. The tea plantations on the planet use an underclass of near slave labor. Many human bodies imported for labor and held in suspension turn out to be missing. Everything blows up into violence once the villains know they’re caught.

I’m dropping into a sequel for this novel and I haven’t read the first book. Here’s another AI, installed this time in a human body. It’s clear that AI is a popular theme. I have a few gripes about technical issues with the book. When has it gotten to be standard to write in first person and forget to mention the person’s name? I was all the way to page 7 before I got it. Also, there’s very little description of characters. Likely this is by design, as the language has only female pronouns and the author gives up very few clues about gender. Still, this affects characterization. Last gripe: the text is hard to read because of irregular sentences and punctuation. Once or twice I couldn’t tell who was talking. On the positive side, the world-building is excellent here. The politics is far reaching, complex and well handled. I’m expecting I’ll read the other two books when I have some free time. Four stars.

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