by Ann Leckie
Rating: 3 & 1/2 Stars
‘For a moment, things seem to be under control for the soldier known as Breq. Then a search of Atheok 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…’
The final book in the Ancillary series (#1 Ancillary Justice reviewed here and #2 Ancillary Sword reviewed here) manages to live up to it’s predecessors (mostly) but seems to leave things a little unfinished.
For me this was the lowest rated book in the series. Not because it is badly written – Leckie still displays a masterly grasp on her sprawling world and the intricacies of Radch society are delved into with an anthropologists eye.
But it feels like a lot of the potential that was there at the beginning of this series has fallen by the wayside. It was always going to be hard for any of the following books to live up to the utter wonder of Ancillary Justice, but the very limited view we are given of Leckie’s wonderful universe is beginning to get frustrating.
There is very little development here, in fact there isn’t any substantial difference between this and book two. As I read the trilogy near back to back it seemed very apparent that the first book more or less stands on it’s own with the second and third acting as part I and part II of a second ‘aftermath’ story. I’m all for aftermath stories – in fact I’m fascinated by the concept – but I don’t necessarily think Mercy is a successful example of the genre.
The good things about the first two books are still applicable here as, sadly, are some of the bad ones. We remain confined to one planetary system and there’s still not enough of the other characters to make them stand up to Breq’s intricately detailed background.
Leckie has managed to combat Breq’s isolation somewhat by drawing in the splendidly alien ambassadors from the Presger and the mythology of the Ghost ship lingering beyond the system gate. I greatly admire her ability to pull in her other strands of world building in order to highlight Breq’s own alien nature, but I still wanted more of them. I was more interested in her interactions with them than I necessarily was in the events on the station and the planet below.
I’m also in two minds about the ending – there are aspects of it that I absolutely love that seem to connect successfully as a resolution of Breq’s character arc and there are bits which are simply frustrating. Ultimately there are definitely a lot of loose ends left dangling and I’m unsure how I feel about that.