Cover of Provenance.

Provenance

author: Ann Leckie (2018)
date read: 12 October 2019
rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

Unfortunately, this book didn’t really land. There were interesting ideas, and it’s a story in a universe I like, but neither the characters nor worldbuilding worked for me. I read the entire book in a day, but I’m not sure what happened.

I don’t feel any strong attachment to Ingray, and I failed to connect with her. The other characters are defined in relation to her, so they fell flat too. Maybe there’s not enough of her for me to connect with? The scene at the end where she turns down the heirship feels like it should be a big moment, but barely registered for me. (Although, this is another book where I found it easy to disambiguate the character names which weren’t in English.)

And I was very conscious of my poor grasp of the geography. Is Hwae in space, or on a planet? Where are characters travelling to or from? When Ingray and Garal get ejected into space, how do they end up on the Raadch ambassador’s ship? And so on. I don’t have a good sense of place.

I prefer the Ancillary trilogy, but even there it took a while for me to connect. I think this will be my last Ann Leckie book for a while, unless I get a sense her writing style has shifted to one that I find easier to read.

(I realise this sounds quite negative, and I’m not trying to be – I didn’t hate the book, but I want to understand why Ann Leckie’s writing doesn’t work for me, when so many other people enjoy it.)

PS I picked up the e/em pronouns, but once again the rest of the gender/name commentary was lost on me. I appreciated the brief mentions of genderfluidity, but I missed a lot of it because I was struggling to work out what was happening in the main plot.

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