Miles Raymer
October 31, 2014 AT 04:00 AM EDT

At the end of Leckie’s debut novel, Ancillary Justice, the spacefaring empire at its center was teetering on the verge of internal collapse. In the second installment of this intended trilogy, the action moves to a galactic backwater where the Radch civilization’s history of oppressing alien cultures plays out in an atmosphere of bureaucratic intrigue. Readers who don’t normally consume sci-fi may struggle with the book’s steep learning curve and slow-moving first half, but fans of space operas will feast on its richly textured, gorgeously rendered world-building. B

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