Provenance by Ann Leckie (Imperial Radch)

Though she knows her brother holds her mother’s favor, Ingrid is determined to at least be considered as heir to the family name. She hatches an audacious plan — free a thief from a prison planet from which no one has ever returned, and use them to help steal back a priceless artifact.

But Ingray and her charge return to her home to find their planet in political turmoil, at the heart of an escalating interstellar conflict. Together, they must make a new plan to salvage Ingray’s future and her world, before they are lost to her for good.

CONTRIBUTOR(S): Adjoa Andoh (Narrator)
PUBLISHER: Hachette Audio
YEAR: 2017
LENGTH: 448 pages (12 hours 34 minutes)
AGE: Adult
GENRE: Science Fiction

Queer Rep Summary: Lesbian/Sapphic Main Character(s).

PROVENANCE isn't quite a sequel, though the grander politics in play make it clear that this takes place after the main Imperial Radch trilogy. It does so without spoiling anything that would feel too important while reading the trilogy, which I appreciate. It could easily be approached as a stand-alone book, though some aspects of characterization and worldbuilding, particularly as related to a few of the aliens, received much more explanation in the main trilogy.  

Structurally, one of the things that I find so wonderful about this series is the way that at every turn there are forces in play beyond the main character, creating a story that feels much larger than their goals. While this is generally true in many novels I feel it especially when reading the Imperial Radch series because of the way that every time the main character either has a very specific long term goal and can quickly adapt to changes on the way (as in the main trilogy), or as is the case here, one very specific goal that is over very quickly, then the rest of the story develops as the almost inevitable consequence of those very early decisions. Ingrid wants to obtain a particular person in order to have em help her with something, but it soon appears she doesn't have the right person and things are much stranger than she anticipated. 

Things I love, in no particular order: Ingrid as a character, her rivalry with her brother, the mechs, the ship captain, how language and pronouns are handled, the artifacts and the way their cultural significance is both intertwined with and separate from their actual history.

I enjoyed the audiobook narrator's performance, it enhanced the story generally. I like this as a stand-alone story in an established setting, and hope there continue to be more entries like it.

Graphic/Explicit CW for confinement, violence, gun violence.

Moderate CW for cursing, racism, xenophobia, religious bigotry, kidnapping, deadnaming, toxic relationship, panic attack, blood, war, injury detail, medical content, medical trauma, murder, death.

Minor CW for sexual content, vomit, misgendering.

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