Set in the same universe as Leckie’s Ancillary novels, but with a very different viewpoint character and different stakes. I’m not entirely sure whether to call it a “standalone” (a philosophical question I recently discussed on twitter) given that Provenance benefits heavily from background knowledge from the Ancillary trilogy, but the plot is self-contained and the central characters have no overlap.
This is, in some ways, a coming of age story in which a protagonist from a privileged (if not secure) background struggles to find her path forward. In common with the third volume of the Ancillary books, it reminds me strongly of the folk tale motif “six go through the world” where the protagonist gradually gathers a posse of allies, largely by simply being a good, ethical person. I may be a sucker for that type of story. The gradual (and sometimes confusing) build-up of tensions, mysteries, and perils pays off with a fast-paced and satisfying climax. Bonus points for casual and positively-portrayed queerness of several types.