The space opera scheming and political maneuvering continue for Breq Mianaai, former Justice of Toren after the event of the first award-winning novel. Ancillary Sword picks up not too far away from Justice in time and moves through space with the protagonist and her new crew on the Mercy of Kalr.
The characters and functioning of the world start to make more sense in this book with the first book behind it. Leckie doesn't pause to make everything clear but gives enough explanation for a reader to follow. This book delves much deeper into the specifics and takes a hiatus from the intergalactic war between the Lord of Radch and herself to focus on the small tea growing Athoek Station.
Sword is much slower based using a slow build of tension and not having a long flashback to separate out the chapters as the book goes on. Breq is still considered with her failure to save Lieutenant Awn and the plot brings her in contact with her sister on this small planet. She promises to protect her but things are not as they seem.
I found the payoff worth it but I could see how readers might think the first half or so was a little slow. I enjoyed the description of the ship's crew and getting to know more of the way everything works in the system. This book felt like a large set up for a big finale in the third book Ancillary Mercy that tops off the trilogy. It wanted to know more of the intergalactic civil war but I will have to pick up the third book to find out.
This kicks off my long read through the Hugo-nominated novels for this year. I know this book wasn't nominated but I wanted to do Ancillary Mercy justice by reading its predecessors. As it was the only book I nominated that made it on the ballot, I would like to know what happens prior to it in the plot before delving. That is the next book on my list then I may try to fit in last year's winner so I know the standards before I approach the rest of the nominees for best novel!