Monday, July 2, 2018

Provenance, by Ann Leckie (author), Adjoa Andoh (narrator)

Hachette Audio, September 2017

This is a return to the universe of the Radchaai, but not their empire or its fleet.

Ingray Aughskold, of Hwae, daughter of a prominent politician, is on a mission. Not for her mother, but for herself. She wants to be her mother's heir, and her mother has set her and her brother up to constantly compete to impress her.  That brother, Danach, is often a jerk, but he is more of a risk-taker than Ingray, and has simply created more opportunities for their mother to be impressed.

Ingray has a plan to fix that, taking a major risk with, potentially, huge reward. She's paid for a convicted thief of vestiges, the vital mementos that are critical to social and political status on Hwae, to be retrieved from a prison planet from which no one ever returns, to recover the vestiges he stole.

He arrives in stasis, and when removed from his stasis pod, he claims he's not the man she expected, Pahlad Budrakim. There are also problems with the somewhat dubious freighter captain she hired to bring them back to Hwae. The Ambassador of the alien Geck, en route to the conclave to discuss the rebel Radch AIs' request to be recognized as a significant species under the treaty, also makes problems, claiming that the freighter captain is a Geck citizen, and that he stole three ships, including the one he is now using in his freight business.

This is all only a tiny glimmer of the problems they'll have when they get to Hwae.

Ingray is a smart, capable young woman, who does not have the killer instinct of her mother or brother. This causes them and others to form certain assumptions about her, while others in her small circle of family and friends perhaps have a different view of her. This isn't the intense drama and galaxy-shaking drama of the Ancillary books. It's a smaller, more intimate story, closer to a comedy of manners. This doesn't mean the stakes aren't very real, for everyone involved, and Ingray does a lot of growing and maturing over the course of the story.

This reads like a standalone, but I'd be happy to see more of Ingray and her friends, should they turn up in future books. Recommended.

I bought this audiobook.