Saturday, June 8, 2024

Translation State (Imperial Radch), by Ann Leckie (author), Adjoah Andoh (narrator)

Orbit, ISBN 9781549164835, June 2023

Qven is a junior, that is, not yet full adult, Presger translator. His only purpose is to learn human ways and language, match with an older, more experienced translator, and be an intermediary between the impossibly dangerous Presger and the human worlds. He's the pride of his Clade--until he starts to wonder if there might be a different life possible.

Enae has been hir grandmaman's household manager and aide, until grandmaman dies, and leaves hir not the house and the wealth believed to go with it, but a position as a junior diplomat, which includes the mission of finding the Presger translator who disappeared two centuries ago. That translator must be found, or at least returned to the Presger if found, because Presger translators are too dangerous to wander unsupervised through human societies.

Reet, a mechanic who grew up as an adopted son in a family of devoted parents and adopted siblings, is determined to know his genetic heritage, and finds what may be a path to that knowledge. At least, a fraternal organization of descendants of a destroyed habitat believe they know who his family was. However, they may have ulterior motives--and they may also be quite mistaken.

Meanwhile, outside of these immediate concerns, the Radch AIs controlling ships and space stations, who had declared their independence from the Radch, will soon be presenting their petition for recognition as a "significant species" to the Conclave that administers the treaty with the Presger. Qven's Clade has decided he must be brought to the Conclave to make the match they are determined on and he is equally determined not to make. Reet, beginning to have an alarming idea of who his genetic kin might be, and Enae, with similar suspicions and a determination to do hir duty as soon as hir determines how that works with hir growing concerns about right and wrong in that regard, as well as Reet's dubious "friends," have all decided they must be at the Conclave too.

Qven, Enae, and Reet are all making decisions that risk upending the treaty, and will at a minimum upset all their elders and superiors.

Along the way, we still don't meet any Presger, but we do start to get a much clearer idea of what makes the Presgar, and even the human-derived Presger translators, so very dangerous when they want to be, or when they don't quite know exactly what they're doing.

It's a fascinating story, that reveals more of the galaxy the Radch operate in, the other human cultures and alien species that also inhabit it, and Presger and Presger translators. Major and secondary characters all have their own absorbing personalities and back stories, along with clear and often conflicting ideas of right, wrong, and what can actually be achieved.

Adjoah Andoh is, as always, an excellent narrator.

Highly recommended.

I received this audiobook as a gift.

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