i finished reading it in november 2019. i liked it. it’s pretty different from ancillary justice. i wish i’d written something down here right when i read it but something is better than nothing, so what i remember feeling seven months ago was suspense, a story driving forward, an ailing king, wanting to know what would happen next, a stone tower, the contour of a city on a river and the outskirts beyond.
spoilers/my own dumb thoughts
there is a trans character whose transness is not a plot device. i appreciated that. there is a moment where he and his cis friend need to seek help at a women-only sanctuary, and he says “i cannot go in there!” and the cis male friend is like, i know. it is not like expounded upon for us–it’s a moment of show, not tell–but what i got from this is that cis allies are sometimes unaware of our privilege. like, i would be like “yeah, i’m an other here, but it’s okay because there’s an extraordinary circumstance.” like a one-time exception. and there’s privilege in being able to even be an exception to any rule.
there are several moments in ancillary justice where breq encounters people from a non-dominant culture who have genders, and she’s shown being slightly neurotic about hoping she’s getting their pronouns right by guessing based on the patterns on this one person’s shirt. i found it very funny because i as a judy don’t live in a society like breq’s, so it’s alien to me to consider being unable to read gender cues. i think i liked that moment so much for the same reason i like so much of scifi and fantasy: it lets me imagine a different possible world.