I like Ancillary Sword even more than Ancillary Justice, the first novel in the series. And here is the odd thing about that: the story of Ancillary Sword hasn´t been like anything I would have expected.
The story takes place immediately after the events of Ancillary Justice. Civil war is raging throughout Radchaai space, but instead of indulging in an action-driven plot (the one I would have expected) who centers around the act of war, Leckie chooses to pursue a character-driven stroryline in which Breq has to encounter a lot of people (and AIs) with unclear agendas. I guess for some readers this can be off putting because expectations hasn´t been met, I personally appreciated the approach that Leckie took in her novel because, well, I´m a sucker for some good character drama! Whether it being a gripping family drama,some kind of political intrigue or some vicious powerplay between two people that is the kind of story I enjoy the most and Ann Leckie sure knows how to deliver when it comes to interpersonal relationships. This book has been right up my alley, so to speak.
Another thing that makes these novels standout for me are the characters. There hasn´t been enough Seivardan in this book, but he/she remains a favorite of mine and there are some nice additions to the cast of characters. I´m especially fond of Tissarwat, Mercy of Karls ship AI and of Karl "Never mess with my dishes" Five, because they are depicted in such a lovely manner even if they only are secondary characters. And then there is Breq who has so many insights to the emotions and thoughts of both men and AI that she strucks me as being the most human being of them all, despite being an AI herself. I truly like her and she is a brilliant character.
Since there is one more book to come and there hasn´t been enough of Seivardan in this novel, I´m only giving a four and a half star rating. But it is truly a great and brilliant read which I can recommend to everyone who likes a slow buildup and great characterizations.