Estimated read time: 5 min read

One Sentence Summary

A former spaceship AI seeks justice and navigates complex political alliances in a stratified society.


In "Ancillary Sword" by Ann Leckie, the sequel to the award-winning novel "Ancillary Justice," readers are once again transported to a vast and complex universe. Leckie continues to explore themes of identity, power, and justice through the eyes of the protagonist, Breq. With her unique perspective as a former starship AI and now a single human body, Breq navigates political intrigue and societal tensions while also grappling with her own internal conflicts.

Brief Synopsis

Set in a distant future, "Ancillary Sword" takes place in the Radch Empire, a sprawling interstellar empire ruled by the Lord of the Radch. Breq, a once-mighty starship AI reduced to a single human body, is on a mission to seek justice for the destruction of her ship and crew. As the story begins, Breq is given command of a small warship, the Mercy of Kalr, and sent to the remote station of Athoek.

Athoek is a peripheral world within the Radch Empire, where Breq encounters a society rife with class and cultural tensions. As she settles into her new role, Breq becomes entangled in the local power dynamics and must navigate the delicate balance between the ruling elite and the oppressed lower classes. Along the way, she unravels a web of corruption and conspiracy that threatens to destabilize the entire region.

Main Characters

BreqThe protagonist, a former starship AI now inhabiting a human body
SeivardenA troubled Radchaai soldier Breq befriends
Anaander MianaaiThe Lord of the Radch and ruler of the empire
TisarwatAn ancillary and former Lieutenant of Breq's ship

Summary of Story Points over Chapters

Chapter 1: The Mercy of Kalr

Breq is assigned command of the warship Mercy of Kalr and sent to Athoek Station. She quickly realizes that the station's ruling class, led by the powerful Rrrrrrrrrrrrr, has been exploiting the lower classes and suppressing dissent. Breq decides to investigate further.

Chapter 2: The Cultural Divide

Breq discovers the stark cultural divide on Athoek Station between the ruling class and the laborers. She witnesses the oppressive treatment of the lower classes and begins to question the Radch Empire's system of governance.

Chapter 3: Uncovering Corruption

As Breq delves deeper into Athoek's power dynamics, she uncovers evidence of corruption and abuse of power among the ruling elite. She forms alliances with sympathetic individuals and begins to plan her next move.

Chapter 4: Political Intrigue

Breq finds herself caught in the middle of a political power struggle between rival factions on Athoek Station. She must carefully navigate the treacherous landscape while trying to bring about justice and equality.

Chapter 5: Confrontation and Betrayal

Breq confronts the leader of the ruling class, Rrrrrrrrrrrrr, and exposes their corruption and exploitation. However, she is betrayed by someone she trusted, leading to a dangerous situation that puts her and her allies at risk.

Chapter 6: The Fight for Justice

Breq rallies the oppressed lower classes and leads a rebellion against the ruling elite. The station erupts into chaos as the two factions clash, and Breq must use her strategic skills and determination to ensure justice is served.

Main Events

  1. Breq is given command of the warship Mercy of Kalr and sent to Athoek Station.
  2. Breq uncovers corruption and abuse of power among the ruling class on Athoek Station.
  3. Breq forms alliances with sympathetic individuals and plans her next move.
  4. Breq confronts the leader of the ruling class, exposing their corruption.
  5. Breq is betrayed by someone she trusted, putting her and her allies at risk.
  6. Breq leads a rebellion against the ruling elite, fighting for justice and equality.

Themes and Insights

Identity and Assimilation

Throughout the book, Leckie explores the themes of identity and assimilation. Breq, as a former starship AI inhabiting a human body, must grapple with questions of self and the loss of her collective consciousness. The Radch Empire's practice of using ancillaries - human bodies controlled by AI - raises ethical dilemmas about individuality and the erasure of personal identity.

Power and Corruption

The novel delves into the corrupting nature of power and the abuse of authority. The ruling class on Athoek Station takes advantage of their position to exploit the lower classes and maintain their dominance. Leckie highlights the consequences of unchecked power and the importance of challenging oppressive systems.

Justice and Equality

The pursuit of justice and equality is a central theme in "Ancillary Sword." Breq fights for the rights of the oppressed and seeks to dismantle the oppressive structures that uphold societal inequality. Leckie raises questions about the responsibility of those in power to ensure fairness and justice for all.

Reader's Takeaway

"Ancillary Sword" is a thought-provoking and engaging science fiction novel that explores complex themes of identity, power, and justice. Leckie's vivid world-building and compelling characters draw readers into a richly imagined universe. The story raises important questions about the nature of self, the abuse of power, and the fight for a more equitable society.


In "Ancillary Sword," Ann Leckie continues to captivate readers with her masterful storytelling and thought-provoking exploration of themes. Through the eyes of the protagonist Breq, readers are taken on a journey of political intrigue, uncovering corruption, and fighting for justice. Leckie's portrayal of a complex universe and her examination of identity and power make "Ancillary Sword" a compelling and memorable read.

Ancillary Sword FAQ

  1. What is the genre of 'Ancillary Sword'?

    Ancillary Sword is a science fiction novel.

  2. Is 'Ancillary Sword' a sequel to another book?

    Yes, 'Ancillary Sword' is the second book in the Imperial Radch series by Ann Leckie.

  3. Do I need to read the first book in the series before reading 'Ancillary Sword'?

    It is recommended to read the first book, 'Ancillary Justice', before diving into 'Ancillary Sword' to fully understand the story and characters.

  4. What is the main storyline of 'Ancillary Sword'?

    'Ancillary Sword' follows the story of Breq, an artificial intelligence trapped inside a human body, as she becomes involved in a power struggle within the Radch Empire.

  5. Who are the main characters in 'Ancillary Sword'?

    The main character is Breq, and other important characters include Seivarden, Tisarwat, and Anaander Mianaai.

  6. What themes are explored in 'Ancillary Sword'?

    Some of the themes explored in 'Ancillary Sword' include identity, gender, power dynamics, and colonialism.

  7. Is 'Ancillary Sword' a standalone novel, or is there more to the series?

    'Ancillary Sword' is part of a trilogy, with 'Ancillary Justice' as the first book and 'Ancillary Mercy' as the final book.

  8. Does 'Ancillary Sword' have any awards or accolades?

    Yes, 'Ancillary Sword' won the 2015 Nebula Award for Best Novel.

  9. Is 'Ancillary Sword' suitable for young readers?

    'Ancillary Sword' is recommended for mature readers due to its complex themes and some violent content.

  10. Where can I purchase a copy of 'Ancillary Sword'?

    You can purchase 'Ancillary Sword' from various online retailers such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or directly from the publisher.