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Seeking atonement for past crimes Bre takes on a mission as captain of a troublesome new crew of Radchai soldiers in the seuel to Ann Leckie's NYT bestselling award winning Ancillary Justice A must read for fans of Ursula K Le Guin and James S A CoreyBre is a soldier who used to be a warship Once a weapon of conuest controlling thousands of minds now she has only a single body and serves the emperorWith a new ship and a troublesome crew Bre is ordered to go to the only place in the galaxy she would agree to go to Athoek Station to protect the family of a lieutenant she once knew a lieutenant she murdered in cold bloodAnn Leckie's Imperial Radch trilogy has become one of the new classics of science fiction Beautifully written and forward thinking it does what good science fiction does best taking readers to bold new worlds with plenty explosions along the way


10 thoughts on “Ancillary Sword

  1. says:

    If it's possible this book is BETTER than the first one This is just a great Sci Fi book wonderful worldbuilding that focuses on CHARACTERS rather than every planet and ship and technical science thing in the world Some of that stuff while interesting make big sci fi for me a bit less compelling This however has it ALL And contrasting with the first one it is very clear about POV and stuff The gender ambiguity is still there but in a streamlined way so you don't uestion things as much in your head The plotting is excellent and its just a great sci fi read Highly recommended for MF looking for a good space drama that doesn't have a cast of thousands


  2. says:

    While I enjoyed Ann Leckie’s Ancillary Sword the 2nd book in the Imperial Radch Series I don’t think it measured up to the complexity and sheer scope of the first book in the series Ancillary Justice Leckie’s attention to details in ritual and language continue in this book and maybe was thoroughly explored It might be difficult to convincingly say in a space opera that you enjoyed the intricacies of tea ceremonies along with the choice of accompanying dishes but it is compelling as it relates to both cultural identity and the Radch annexation of planets That said the plot lacked a clear direction And the complexity of competing storylines seen in book 1 was absent I still like the protagonist Bre and her perspective having been the AI for the spaceship Justice of Toren as well as ancillaries of this self I’m still thinking about what happened and didn’t happen in this follow up book but the writing is very good and I’m looking forward to finishing this trilogy; I’m bumping 35 stars up to 4


  3. says:

    Ancillary Justice was a spectacular debut but its successor is a lot less sure footed Leckie's attempt to marry Space Opera with domestic tragedy feels a bit too much like Sense and Sensibility and SpaceshipsIt's clear by now that Leckie is keen on promoting a particular political sentiment and Ancillary Sword is all about the confluence of the personal and political Unfortunately the domesticity becomes a little tedious and the cooking lacks any flavourAnaander Mianaai's Radchaai imperium is not surprisingly rotten to the core Esk Nineteen now Fleet Captain Bre Mianaai is sent to secure a neighbouring system by the slightly less odious part of Minaai's fractured self and discovers a rat's nest of corruption and abuse The reader may be puzzled by the early focus on the uality of the Fleet Captain's china and regard it as some sort of interlude Don't The book never really rises above this level of tedium If you don't regard such domestic trivialities as important you'll miss the important clue that the uality of one's tea service provides later in the book Yes it's laid on with a trowelLeckie's politics are a lot heavy handed than in AJ and there's a lot less going on to divert the reader's attention It also becomes rather painfully clear that Leckie has only the slightest idea how real soldiers either male or female actually think and behave The most awkward part of the whole book comes with her attempt to characterise the human crew of Bre's ship which feels like a girl's boarding school than a military unit in a rapacious and brutal empireMaybe the third book will be better It's hard to see how it could be worse I was wildly excited by Ancillary Justice and maybe that explains my disappointment in its seuel


  4. says:

    Downton Abbeyin SPAAAAAACENo it really is The novel is filled with tea and fine china There’s polite meetings in polite society There’s blushing in abundance at the smallest of social faux pas There’s tears from the young ‘uns when their jobs are just a bit too overwhelming There’s snooty as hell top of society landowners with brat children to match There’s tea There’s gossip amongst the servants and resentment amongst the slaves There are gardens And tea And dressing expectations And a funeral with a proper and lengthy period of mourning and doing nothing And because everyone is bored with life there are accepted and expected trysts galore Also tea 95% of the “action” in the book falls somewhere between “a snore” and “a boring college professor’s lecture” There is to be fair a bomb And there is a murder But everything and I mean everything is dealt with such straight faces and such inhuman emotional reactions and I do understand we’re working with ancillaries here as to make the producers over at the BBC stand up and wildly applaud though uietly and politely and certainly without smiling unless it is wryly And teaIn other words it’s Downton Abbeyin SPAAAAAACEA few other notes Note As others have pointed out the major theme of the novel of seeing slaves as people is very heavy handed and cliched Note As others have pointed out no one in this military acts like someone in the military even an imaginary militaryNote I’m not really sure that the title works very well here Ancillary Sword There’s not much “swording” going on Bre doesn’t exactly “cut through” the social expectations either She just sorta has tea until the social expectations change Not very “swordly” of her Note I found this book much easier to read than Ancillary Justice because I knew Leckie’s style going into it and because the narrative in this novel is focused on one time frame However the ideas that made Ancillary Justice so compelling were hardly to be found in Ancillary Sword the idea of being an ancillary one of many was almost gone in this novel The idea of Anaadnder Mianaai being at war with herself was almost non existent The idea of conuering planets and turning the inhabitants into ancillaries was barely present And the idea that the all powerful Presger might have been meddling with things well the reader is told repeatedly that the Presger are not involved In summary all the interesting ideas were taken out replaced by tea Note In the end my feelings about this book are on par with my feelings about those of Lois McMaster Bujold and her Vorkosigan Saga books with promise but that are far too polite Final Note Downton Abbeyin SPAAAAAACE


  5. says:

    Warning spoilers for Ancillary Justice If you haven’t read the first book yet OMG WHY NOT avert your eyes right nowAna’s TakeIt’s probably not an exaggeration to say that all SFF eyes are on this book right now Given the immense success of Ancillary Justice – it won all the major awards and yes this includes a rare Book Smugglers Double Ten Review – I bet everybody is thinking will the seuel be as good as the first novel?Well the answer is a resounding HELL YESFrom a plotting perspective Ancillary Sword is at first glance a rather straightforward affair The story picks up where we left off at the end of Ancillary Justice with The Lord of the Radch still at war with herself and Bre as a newly minted ship captain on her way to Athoek Station where Lieutenant Awn’s sister lives At the station Bre gets involved with the station’s day to day management and with the petty – and not so petty – relationships between its different sections At the end of the day though Bre is there to make amends – to atone for what she did to her beloved Lieutenant AwnThe first thing to note about Ancillary Sword is how it has a largely linear narrative and a very limited point of view One of the most important aspects of Ancillary Justice was its alternating narrative between the now and the then with the latter offering a taste of what it was like for Bre to have its consciousness split between multiple viewpoints This is all but gone in Ancillary Sword and all we are left with is the Bre from now – the Bre that needs to come to terms with the fact that she is now a one bodied ancillary an ongoing journey started 20 years prior to the events in Ancillary Justice She is occasionally able to experience multiple bodied viewpoints that the ship Mercy of Kalr shares with her and Ann Leckie continues to handle that head hoping with aplomb but those moments are brief and almost too elusive and end up amplifying Bre’s sense of separatenessThis is perhaps the most striking thing about Ancillary Sword how it manages to be a deeply personal emotional book without losing track of any of the larger issues that continue to be explored here Bre is an AI not human – and it’s interesting that the sense of her being not entirely human really hit me strongly here in this second book ironically just as Bre becomes and human Although one could – and should – make the argument that the AIs and the ancillaries and the ships in this series are not completely separate emotionless beings The moments that resonate the most are in fact the ones when these supposedly unemotional beings show they have a remarkable sense of compassion justice and feeling than the supposedly civilised Radchaai should have and in fact are said to be the only ones to haveThis is one of the strongest ongoing themes in these books the examination of what it means to be a Citizen what it means to be civilised with a confrontation of internalised assumptions and prejudices from both a personal and social point of viewThat all of this happens whilst Bre not only investigates threats from aliens as well as from internal forces within the empire but also confronts aspects of the Radchaai that include the hidden truths of exploitation and slavery of different peoples? It’s basically genius GENIUS I say because the narrative might be linear might be reduced to mostly Bre’s one point of view but it still captures SO MUCH in a complex way that is at the end of the day also incredibly funI could list a few criticisms perhaps there is some unnecessary repetitious considerations from Bre Perhaps the uestion of slavery was heavy handed than necessary or perhaps not some things should be faced HEAD ON after all THERE WAS NOT ENOUGH BROODING SEIVARDEN But to me those are minor flaws in an otherwise perfect book Once with feeling ALL THE AWARDS And also a top 10 spot for meThea’s TakePlease allow me a brief moment to be incredibly unprofessional and fangirly because holy effing crap Ancillary Sword you are amazingI have to add my voice to Ana’s singing the praises of both Ancillary Justice and Ancillary Sword and marveling awestruck and stupefied by Ann Leckie’s writing prowess Holy effing crapCan I take a step back and examine the text in context? As Ana says Ancillary Justice won ALL the awards last year – taking home the Nebula Award BSFA Award Arthur C Clarke Award Locus Award and the Hugo Award This is success on a near unprecedented scale especially for a debut full length novel Suffice it to say there is a lot of expectation when it comes to follow up novel Ancillary Sword How could anything top the glorious mind bending challenging award winning marvel that is Ancillary Justice?Perhaps Ancillary Sword doesn’t uite live up to the same rush the same unexpected in your face challenge that Ancillary Justice posed – but it’s still an amazing thrilling provocative novel that forces readers to uestion their own humanity And I loved it OH how I loved itIn Ancillary Sword Bre – the Artificial Intelligence that was once grand starship Justice of Toren brought low to a single body hungry for vengeance – has been given its own command and her own mission by none other than Anaander Mianaai Lord of the Radch On her new ship the Mercy of Kalr Bre makes uick use of power as Captain as it sets course for a distant star system in an “uncivilized” part of the galaxy There are conflicts aplenty in Ancillary Sword as Bre deals with administering its power on its new ship without becoming too enmeshed in the consciousness of said ship the inter personal tensions of the Radch and the Lord of the Radch’s own splintering consciousness the tensions and conditions of colonized people on a distant planet a parallel to the enslavement and former forced ancillary procurement of conuered peoples and the appearance of a new external threat that can challenge Radchaii hegemonyNeedless to say there’s a LOT going on in Ancillary Sword And yet for all of these plot threads this second book is one that is extraordinarily intimate As Ana says a large part of this is because we are now with Bre as it is now without the alternating narrative into the past We readers are entreated to Bre’s current thoughts and feelings its emotions and burning sense of justice and understanding of anger as it deals with tensions both personal and interstellar It’s also kind of funny because though Ancillary Sword is a much intimate book it’s also one that illuminates just how different Bre is – not uite human but a far cry from the conscienceless killer robots or the anthropomorphized human like androids of science fiction’s past Bre is Bre The development of this particular character and its struggles – I particularly want to call attention to Bre’s reluctance to entwine fully with its new ship and Bre’s treatment of Lord of the Radch ancillary Tisarwat – are the driving factors that make Ancillary Sword so successful and resonant At least they are in my mindOn the plotting and overall trilogy arc moving front Ancillary Sword is admittedly a bit weaker than its predecessor There are plot threads aplenty in this second book but there’s also a bit of heavy handedness particularly when it comes to the effects of colonialism in space and a sense of in between ness as there are so many stories to be resolved in the next bookThese uibbles are but footnotes though to a truly spectacular sopho novel I loved Ancillary Sword truly madly deeply It is absolutely a top 10 pick for me this year deserving of all the awards and all of the praiseDo yourself a favor and read it immediately CitizenRatingAna 10 – Perfect and a top 10 book of 2014Thea 10 – Perfection


  6. says:

    One of my sci fi writer heroes Gene Wolfe once said that a story works by “engendering expectations and then satisfying them”That then are the two primary means by which a story can fail Either it neglects to setup expectations or it sets them up but doesn’t satisfy them Of the two the first is by far the worse I recently reviewed Radiance and gave it one star because its post modern author indulgent structure failed to ever setup any sort of expectations or stakes It didn’t teach me how to interface with it and was as a result a chore to read On the other hand I recently gave Philip K Dick’s Flow My Tears three stars because it setup expectations for an ontological puzzle but failed rather spectacularly in that regard and instead delivered a intimate human almost autobiographical story It was fun to read if not satisfying in the way that it promised to be Ancillary Sword falls into this latter less egregious categorySo Ancillary Justice – which I really liked – ended by inciting an empire spanning conflict between the two facets of schizophrenic emperor Anaander Mianaai It introduced the mysterious element of the Presger a super advanced alien species who may be interfering with the Radch empire It setup some personal stakes for Bre Justice of Toren who wants to go to a nearby station to protect Lieutenant Awn’s sister Further the book as a whole contained interesting thematic flavors of free will terrorism and mental illnessOK I’m down with that That’s what I like to see intimate personal stories interwoven within the larger fabric of society and the universe I prefer stories that are immediately engaging but which contain depths that reward careful thought That’s why I like sci fi So my expectations were properly engendered and I bought both Ancillary Sword and Ancillary MercyTo say Ancillary Sword didn’t satisfy those expectations would be like saying a McDonalds uarter pounder isn’t the best for your health Point in fact I don't think I've ever seen so precipitous a decline in uality between a book and its seuelThe best way I can describe Ancillary Sword is that it’s a Jane Austen novel in space That is it’s a “novel of manners” Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing Space opera has always possessed Victorian vibes It’s just this book is not what Ancillary Justice promisedAnaander Mianaai barely makes an appearance The Presger barely make an appearance Lieutenant Awn’s sister barely makes an appearance They are as best I can tell after thoughts And the themes of free will terrorism and mental illness go largely undevelopedInstead here’s the plot Bre shows up at the Station and there’s some sketchy stuff regarding a ghetto In response Bre social justices yes I turned this into a verb – but honestly that’s the best way I can describe her actions in this book When you get right down to it she doesn’t actually DO much of anything – she just sort of acts stern toward people who don’t share her opinions or values Then there’s some Young Adult conflict because – and I kid you not this is the PRIMARY inciting incident – one 17 year old says to another “You’re such a fucking bore” No really They make a HUGE deal out of that comment And also there’s a teenage lieutenant who actually not even kidding here once says “YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND” to Bre and storms off The inclusion of these YA overtones frankly blew my mind and not in a good wayAnyway Bre then contrives to descend to the planet below whose major export is tea Super important crop during war time I know There’s some sketchy stuff regarding social class and the exploitation of farm workers In response Bre social justices And then there’s a conspiracy involving stealing bodies to turn into ancillaries which clearly is the main plot but gets a comparatively low amount of ink time and just kinda reveals itself without much effort from BreAnd just what is BreJustice of Toren's stake in all of this? Why does she care about people in the ghettos? Why does she care about one random 17 year old girl calling another “a fucking bore”? Why does she care about the tea farm workers not getting fair wages?shrug As best as I can tell the entire motivation for the book’s protagonist is “doing the right thing” Allow me to suggest that’s a personality trait not a motivating factor But without a motivating factor how can we have a plot? I mean a plot or less boils down to a character having a desire but being blocked in her attempt to consummate it right?Here’s Toy Story When Andy gets Buzz Lightyear Woody is jealous and desires to be top toy again So he contrives to get rid of Buzz But then they both end up lost And then Woody desires not to be left behind so they have to get back before Andy moves Great desires Jealousy over another’s popularity and not wanting to be be forgotten by those we love Those are motivations we can all understandHere’s Star Wars Luke is a farm boy who desires to escape his rural backwater of a home and experience real adventure Leia is a princess who desires to overthrow an evil empire Han Solo is a smuggler who secretly desires a greater sense of purpose Darth Vader is an ex Jedi who because he has lost that which was most dear desires to see the galaxy burn Or alternatively to validate his decision to embrace the Dark Side desires for his son to join him These are all great desiresstruggles because we can actually track whether the characters are making any progress in satisfying them We can also guess what will happen if they DON'T succeedNow here’s Ancillary Sword Bre is an ex ship who wanted to assassinate the lord of her empire in order to reveal her split personality She succeeds In the ensuing chaos she takes the opportunity to protect Lieutenant Awn’s sister because she loved Lieutenant Awn Thus she goes to the planet below and gets involved in the struggle of the farm workers?Um what?Why does she want to help the farm workers again? Why does she want to give some 17 year old her comeuppance? Why does she care about the sanitation conditions of the ghetto on the station? Why does she care about the ineuality in the universe? How do I even assess whether Bre is succeeding at her goals or not? What will happen if she fails?Thus we have a story in which the plot is divorced from the protag’s desires Which are themselves not entirely clear As best I can tell they’re “social justice”Even if so broad and abstract a desire could work I have my doubts it certainly doesn't here The social justice here is incredibly simplistic I kept waiting for some complexity in the rich upperclass overlords But no they're almost carbon copies of the rich upperclass overlords in the first half of Ancillary Justice The main antagonist insofar as ink time is concerned is the aforementioned 17 year old girlboy who said “such a fucking bore I kept waiting for her to behave in some unexpected complex way Cause yknow that’s how people actually are But nope She’s just a spoiled jerk 100% And her mother the bourgeoisie tea plantation owner is likewise eually exploitative and manipulative without any depth whatsoever And the captain of the other ship in the system the Sword of Atgaris has all the personality of a pill of ambien Can I have Anaander Mianaai back now? Addendum I rue these words While Captain Hetyns is woefully boring Ancillary Mercy's Anaander Mianaai is even worse That's right her characterization is worse than zeroSo I did enjoy my time reading this book It was by no means an onerous read I am still massively impressed by the fact that the main character essentially suffers from Schizoid Personality Disorder And Bre’s ability to see through her ship’s eyes was excellently integrated to allow us to follow the doings of other characters while still remaining within Bre’s PoV That’s the type of awesome stuff you get with sci fiBut I expected far better I expected to learn about the Radch empire and the universe it inhabits I expected a plot that focused on the vastly compelling elements of the Presger and Anaander Mianaai’s split and to see Bre humanized with regard to Lieutenant Awn’s sister I expected complex characterization I expected a further exploration of the themes of free will and especially how human beings interface with intelligent machines and vice versa Instead I got YA elements social justice one dimensional characters and a hilariously on the nose festival involving pink plastic penises hung on the wall In fact that last provides an excellent summary of the book as a whole juvenile obvious artificial and cold


  7. says:

    Ancillary Sword fell just a bit short of the brilliance of the fantastic Ancillary Justice but still proved to be a very good and thoroughly enjoyable story in its own right I think Ann Leckie gets the balance between thought provoking concepts and the story perfect Leckie gets you thinking but also keep you thoroughly entertained With the start of civil conflict within the Radch leadership one of the Anaander segments sends Bre and her new ship Mercy of Kalr to the only place she knows Bre will actually agree to go That is the system that Awn's sibling resides in Bre is determined to see her safe in the coming conflict Upon arriving in the system Bre finds social issues that need dealing with and also has to be on the lookout for of Anaander's plots in the region There is also hints that the Presgar might have taken an interest of their own in the system The story was uite entertaining This instalment lacked the mystery of Bre's true nature and the originality of Radchaai culture as we familiarized ourselves with both over the course of the first book but did have plenty of interesting mystery and intrigue Bre herself remains a fascinating and easy to root for lead character Theme wise we were back to dealing with issues like racism classism colonialism gender identity mental illness and corruption All were integrated into the story in such a way that they never overwhelmed the story itself All in all I really liked this one It was just a little below the first book in terms of overall uality but there is no shame in that as AJ was one of the best sci fi books I've ever read Rating 45 starsAudio Note This was narrated fantastically well by Adjoa Andoh Her general narration was excellent and so was her voice acting She had an excellent array of accents


  8. says:

    I'm sure I'm not alone in my judgment but I'm torn about this book The ending was very good It reversed a lot of my disappointment as I read this novel but only because it changed my perceptions about what this novel was trying to accomplishDon't expect fast pacing or a civil war Don't expect a return to Bre's heyday as a multiple body starship AIOnce I got over my desires to see himher rise and become the right hand manwoman of hisher leige wielding a large weapon be it any kind of metaphorical sword political engine or at least an army of ancillaries I started to relax into the tale that Ann Leckie was really tellingWe have a tale about an AI's personal redemption This is still the same tale that was being told in the first novel but now we've got a very limited 3rd person perspective that doesn't allow us into Bre's thoughts either All we have is the pursuit of social justice on a station heshe once served a thousand years prior the attempt to draw in hisher ancillary's relatives into her heart as atonement and almost as a side note the ostensible and official reason Bre had for going there in the first place You know trying to flush out hisher leige's multiple personalty antagonistThe novel was slow Don't expect than a deepening of your understanding of BreOne thing I am both pleased and angry that the jumps in time and location and viewpoint have been sueezed so small as to be a single character It makes for easier reading sure and hides a lot plot until the right time but it was what made the other book fantastic IMHO Do I want easy reading or rewarding reading? Answer Both I think that's what I liked most about the first novel The second wasn't nearly as rewarding except if you allow yourself to fall into an introspective contemplation about Bre I said I really liked the ending It was very satisfying but it reminds me of a traditional novel with very little sci fi necessity In fact the novel could have cut almost all of the sci fi aspects out and have a coherent and complete novel There was none of the special tension that science fiction is known for Speculation was missing Instead we've got a novel of social justice and personal redemption It was good but not what I was expectingI don't mean to be harsh in this review I liked the novel Even if it didn't follow the promise of big events laid down by the previous novel it was good on its own Of course we were given hints of a full blown revolution in the star system next door and this kind of idea never really hit anyone over the head in this novel but it does leave the door open to huge things laterI admit I love the idea of Galaxy Wide AI's battling it out in a glorious bloodbath including all its fingers the men and women of the ancillary We'll seeUpdateThis is also a contender for the 2015 Hugo for best novelI'm still reading the rest of the nominations including the novel by Kloos that he respectfully rescinded because he didn't want to be associated with the puppygate pall I respect his decision ethically but I cannot accept it in my heart So therefore I will continue to balance the scales before I cast my voteIs Ms Leckie's novel good enough to be on the nomination? Absolutely Do I honestly think it is the best of the ballot for this year? We'll see There's an awful lot to appreciate about it with or without my personal desires getting in the way The same thing goes for her previous novel which did win the Hugo last year although I personally think that this one isn't up to uite the same gloryI'm keeping my eyes wide openBrad K Horner's Blog


  9. says:

    In Which Bre is sent to a somewhat remote part of the Radch am I the only one who keeps wanting to pronounce that Radish? Empire In pursuit of closure regarding a personal matter Bre encounters Grave Social Injustice and tries to make things better Obstacles are Encountered and Action and Intrigue happenIf you haven't already read 'Ancillary Justice' some aspects of the setting might feel a bit bewildering to a new reader However the story itself works pretty well on its own it feels like an 'episode' If you've already read the first book this one might not feel as startlingly original However I wholeheartedly loved it This is superlative sci fi adventure that should appeal to both genre purists and venturesome readers The 'feel' of the writing and the themes of the book are both very similar to Lois McMaster Bujold's Vorkosigan saga I'd very much recommend this to fans of that series


  10. says:

    Executive Summary Probably not as goodinteresting as the first book but I still enjoyed it 35 Stars Full Review Ancillary Justice is one of those books that has become severely over hyped I read it early on as the hype was starting to build and before it won every award under the sun I enjoyed it and I'm not surprised it won so much but I would have been eually unsurprised if it didn't It's definitely one of those books that many people will read and scratch their heads atSo now we come to the seuel to what is arguably the most successful or at least the most decorated book of last year Will Ms Leckie continue on her success or fall into the dreaded sopho slump? For me the answer is closer to the former than the latter The first book gets a lot of discussion about the lack of gender Everyone is a she If I'm perfectly honest I don't notice or care most of the time I'm not sure if that's the point To me it just feels like a gimmick though But it really doesn't matter to me one way or the other Someone much smarter and literary than I am can debate the implications or try to determine the gender from the context I'll be busy reading another book One of the other gimmicky things about the first book I did really like however was the way Bre while the only viewpoint was still multiple viewpoints I was happy to see that Ms Leckie managed to continue that on in this book as well I think it's a really cool idea that makes for very uniue storytellingOverall though this book felt smaller We spend most of it on a single planet and an orbiting station Bre is dealing with a lot of petty problems of the locals I really wanted a book dealing with larger problems revealed at the end of Ancillary Justice but this seemed to mostly dance around thatYet despite that I still found it to be a page turner I liked the characters I continue to enjoy Bre and herits? take on things Bre has a truly uniue viewpoint There are certainly times that Bre feels a little too capable and smart but it never really bothers meSo much like the first book I rather enjoyed this book but I'm not going to be exactly gushing over it I think anyone who enjoyed the first will enjoy this and anyone who didn't won't find this be any better