I love mustelid haberdashery, vinho verde wine, and wensleydale with fruit.
So I received this book as a gift, was told I really should read it, and threw it in Mt. TBR. Then the Hugo list went out, and I was reading about the books (I either have read them or have absolutely no interest in wasting my time), except for this one. Which I hadn't read, and was going to purchase, when I was roundly reminded that it had already been purchased for me. Oops.
And I read it. And sweet baby octopus, I adore it.
I had a bit of a rough start getting into this book. I read on the bus, in 20 minute gulps, and I firmly believe this is not the book to be doing that with. I actually had to skim the first few paragraphs to get a handle on what the hell I was reading. It's just not a "few minutes at a time" kind of book.
This book is phenomenally well written. The world building, I believe, is some of the best I've seen in SFF/spec fic in a long time. The plot was solid, the switching between back history and current events was smooth and easy to follow. It's sci-fi with an interesting militaristic bent without being a hard military-sci fi. It's space-opera without the cheese. There are humans and "humans" and things that are most definitely not humans-dressed-as-aliens. They're truly alien in their physiology as well as philosophy.
And I really liked and connected with the main characters in the story.
This novel is about a future/different/whatever space-faring expansionist society and what happens with a rather interesting breakdown in the despotic leadership. What happens when a machine, who is or is not human, is forced to go against their feelings but with their programs. What *is* human, what side are you on when your leader is on different sides. It's delightfully complicated.
This novel has already won several awards, and I really believe (and hope), wholeheartedly, it should win the Hugo. And I'm not lying when I say that when I read that this is the first of a series (whether it's linear or just in the universe), I actually squealed with happiness. I may have lost Iain Banks, but now I've got Ann Leckie.