Provenance by Ann Leckie

I loved her Imperial Radch series, so this was a given to read. I happened to see it sitting out at the library and picked it up as a palate cleanser after reading The Woman in White.

Published: 2017

Genre: science fiction

Length: 439 pages

Setting: mostly near the stations or planets of Tyr and Hwae, after the events of the Imperial Radch trilogy

Summary: Short version: Ingray is at the center of interspecies political wrangling

Long version: If Ingray is going to be named her mother’s heir, she needs to impress her more than her brother, Danach. She decides to hire someone to get Pahlad Budrakim out of Compassionate Removal (a version of permanent jail). Ingray is hoping Pahlad will show her where he hid the relics he supposedly forged and thus get in the good graces of her mother. Her plan is derailed when Pahled won’t admit to being Pahled and then claims he didn’t steal the relics – they were already forgeries. A further wrinkle is introduced when the Geck claim the ship she hired to get back to Hwae was stolen from them.When Ingray finally gets home, she gets pulled into an interplanetary dispute when an Omken is killed while being entertained by her mother and then the Omken invade the Hwaean Security Station. Ingray is instrumental in saving some important relics and defeating the Omken.

Final thoughts: Not quite as good at the Imperial Radch books, but still enjoyable. There’s a lot of politics and maneuvering for power in this book. Ingray is a reluctant hero. She’s quire resourceful and able to read a situation and maximize her benefit from it. Of course, she didn’t feel like a hero. I appreciated how unsure Ingray felt about herself, and yet she still took action. She needed a couple of minutes to freak out about a bad situation and then her brain would start to tick through the options to come up with a viable solution. My favorite part was when she was warned the Hwaeans had already won so she wouldn’t try to come up with her own rescue plan and spoil the current plan.

Leckie kept up her nonstandard genders in this book. Pahled was a neman and used the pronouns e and em. It took a little getting used to and, without a specific discussion about how a neman is different from a man or woman, I usually defaulted to a generic male figure in my head. There was just a touch of romance in the book. Ingray found a (female) friend who helped her when she needed it, and there was a bit of mutual attraction that allowed for a relationship to start.

Title comes from: The Hwaeans place special merit on items that were present at historic events, so the provenance of an item was important.

Reading challenges fulfilled: book #38 for 2018

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