Ann Leckie’s Provenance is set in the same universe as her Ancillary novels, but is essentially unrelated—instead of telling a story about the fate of species and empires, it’s telling a much smaller story; really, when it comes down to it, it’s telling a coming-of-age story, like one of those old-timey Heinlein juvies.

As the story opens, our protagonist, a young woman who wants to be named the heir to her family, is in the middle of a scheme; as it quickly turns out, she’s too young and naive to really understand what she’s kicked off, and is quickly stuck into situations she hadn’t anticipated. The story is about her figuring things out, growing into her competence, and recasting her family, her world, and her own life in adult terms rather than those of a child.

This is not as dense a book as Ancillary Justice, but it’s still got a reasonably complex plot, still touches on important themes of justice and power; and its plot moves forward so propulsively that it’s hard to put down. This is a fun book that has all the virtues of old-timey SF without most of those books’ weaknesses.


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