The stunning conclusion to the trilogy that began with the Hugo, Nebula, and Arthur C. Clarke award-winning Ancillary Justice.
For a moment, things seem to be under control for the soldier known as Breq. Then a search of Athoek Station’s slums turns up someone who shouldn’t exist – someone who might be an ancillary from a ship that’s been hiding beyond the empire’s reach for three thousand years. Meanwhile, a messenger from the alien and mysterious Presger empire arrives, as does Breq’s enemy, the divided and quite possibly insane Anaander Mianaai – ruler of an empire at war with itself.
Anaander is heavily armed and extremely unhappy with Breq. She could take her ship and crew and flee, but that would leave everyone at Athoek in terrible danger. Breq has a desperate plan. The odds aren’t good, but that’s never stopped her before. – Goodreads
- Title: Ancillary Mercy (Imperial Radch #3)
- Author: Ann Leckie
- Genre: Science Fiction, Space Opera
Now I had reduced my expectations for the series after Sword, but Mercy actually addressed many of my issues from that book. For starters the pacing picks up a lot. There is fighting, and ship battles (I just want to quickly say that I liked how the time delay was represented), but also in general it just feels like the story is moving somewhere again.
After the Presger translator residing in Athoek was killed in the last book another one shows up basically out of thin air. (Spoiler) This is actually pretty anticlimactic to be honest, but the translator is needed for the ending. (Spoiler)
Anaander Mianaai finally makes another appearance, and not the “good” Mianaai. Though I do wish she’d been more epic somehow. (Spoiler) The Mianaai we see acts more like a petulant child then a cunning ruler who has been able to maintain her absolute control of an empire for thousands of years. I’d love to have seen multiple Mianaai’s fighting each other in the finale as well. It didn’t have to be actual fighting. I’d have been perfectly fine with political maneuvering. (Spoiler) This sets off a series of events which will have dramatic ramifications throughout the Radch, and galaxy at large.
I won’t go into the ending, but it felt right, and in a way fulfills Breq’s desire to kill the Lord of the Radch. Kind of. (Spoiler) I mean she is the Radch, and this is going to destroy the Radch as it is now. Surely it will evolve and survive, but it will have become something different. (Spoiler)
Athoek Station gets a much bigger role, and I enjoyed the scenes she was in. Athoek as it turns out is pretty badass! She’s also more likable than any of the ships I can think of. From what I can tell ships care about their crews, but mostly they bond to one person. Stations on the other hand seem to care about everyone of their residents as a whole. And they aren’t as preachy about it. I’m looking at you Breq!
As it turns out I don’t really like Seivarden. I had this romantic idea of this character, thought dead for centuries, growing into a kind of Han Solo role, but that never happened. Honestly I don’t see what purpose this character even had besides to help give contrast to One Esk in Ancillary Justice. I will say I liked how her drug addiction was handled throughout the series. It didn’t really need to be there, but it was well done.
Having completed the series I still have a lot of questions.
(Spoilers) There were strong hints of an unknown third Mianaai identity at Athoek Station. At the very least there was one there at some point in the past. What was this Mianaa’s objectives? If “good” Mianaai wants to stop the practice of endless imperialism, and the making of ancillaries while “bad” Mianaai wants to maintain what had been the status quo then what does this other Mianaai want?
What is going to happen with the AI cores? There are three just sitting there. Will the AIs make ships, or perhaps another station? For that matter what was third Mianaa planning to do with them? I want to know!
Who, what, are the Presger? We have only the vaguest idea from the books, and I’d love to know more about them. If they are the undefeatable, completely sadistic aliens we are led to believe then why do they make treaties with lesser life forms, and then respect those treaties. There has to be more to them.
What was the purpose of the Ghost Gate? It was a giant Chekhov’s gun. I mean so much is made of it only for it to never matter. I know we learn that Sphene is there, but then we never see Sphene, the ship, in the story. Even Sphene, the ancillary, has no real purpose. I kept expecting something to happen with her, but it never did. (Spoilers)
This series was up and down for me. I loved Ancillary Justice, but was disappointed by Ancillary Sword. Don’t get me wrong Sword was a good book, but I had been expecting something with more of an epic scale after the ending to Justice, and instead got the opposite. I had a better idea of what to expect with Ancillary Mercy, and I was pretty happy with the way things ended despite having a few unresolved questions.
My Rating: ☆☆☆☆
- Title: Leviathan Wakes (The Expanse #1)
- Author: James S.A. Corey
- Genre: Science Fiction, Space Opera