Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Provenance by Ann Leckie

This is a book that happens in the same world as the award-winning trilogy and supposedly at the same time or soon after. An adopted daughter of an important political figure tries to impress her mother and manages to get a family member released from “compassionate removal”, a sort of lifetime prison/banishment. This isn’t supposed to be possible.

This requires her to use all of her assets and if everything doesn’t go right she will be heavily in debt for years to come. Everything doesn’t go smoothly, as the released man looks a lot like the person she was supposed to release, but he denies this and says he is a forger who used to forge vestiges, historical memorabilia which are of an extremely valuable and expensive.. They are an important part of the society and might be very commonplace objects which were around close to important people or events in history. The man who she was supposed to be rescuing had, allegedly, stolen an immeasurably valuable cache of such objects. As the original plan didn’t work, they decide to try some sort of scam to retrieve at least some of the money she invested. But there are complications. The ship they booked passage on might have been stolen from aliens and, when they get home, an important official is murdered. They endlessly discuss motives, political allegiances, who did what, and when, while enjoying a hot tea-like drink, which is supposed to be an acquired taste. The book is well-written and the start was excellent, but then it turned almost completely to civilized discussions and was, for a large part, pretty boring reading. There were some short episodes of action, and the main character was fairly interesting, but as a whole, the book was a disappointment and not as good as the award-winning trilogy. There was some amusing play on pronouns, and “e”, “em”, “eir” were used when the sex of the person was not important or was ambiguous. As someone whose native language doesn’t have any sort of grammatical gender of differences between he and she, I did not find this very creative. And it would be impossible to translate to Finnish anyway. Another thing which was strange was the emphasis given on the last half for the main character's hair-pins. They are mentioned probably about a dozen times. I was waiting they would have some significance, but no.
This book won’t be among my top choices.

448 pp.

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