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Ancillary Mercy

by Ann Leckie

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Imperial Radch (3)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,595927,686 (4.19)134
Ancillary Mercy is the stunning conclusion to the trilogy that began with Ancillary Justice, the only novel ever to win the Hugo, Nebula, and Arthur C. Clarke Awards. For a moment, things seemed to be under control for Breq, the soldier who used to be a warship. Then a search of Athoek Station's slums turns up someone who shouldn't exist and a messenger from the mysterious Presger empire arrives, as does Breq's old enemy, the divided, heavily armed, and possibly insane Anaander Mianaai - ruler of an empire at war with itself. Breq could flee with her ship and crew, but that would leave the people of Athoek in terrible danger. Breq has a desperate plan. The odds aren't good, but that's never stopped her before.… (more)
  1. 20
    The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers (souloftherose)
    souloftherose: Both are optimistic space operas that focus on the characters and their relationships.

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» See also 134 mentions

English (91)  French (1)  All languages (92)
Showing 1-5 of 91 (next | show all)
Great conclusion to the trilogy.
Leckie has said that she's through with Breq's story, but I hope she has many others to tell in this universe. ( )
  whami | Jun 28, 2020 |
A quiet but satisfying conclusion to the trilogy. ( )
  3j0hn | Jun 17, 2020 |
I have to say this book puts the previous one in an entirely new and better light. I was left with Ancillary Sword being somehow a lot *less* than Ancillary Justice, but that's only because I had missed it's true purpose and eventual outcome, which, thankfully, became extremely pleasant in this third novel.

You know how it is, the curse of the middle novel. Less action, more buildup, slower and more subtle. Okay, maybe the themes weren't very subtle at all, revolving as it had upon the hinges of being civilized. But that's okay. The first novel established quite a bit of homelessness, identity issues, loss, and near hopelessness in the face of such an insane power. The second established a thoughtful and forward-looking pace under the realization that Breq's sometime Rachii boss is damn nuts, and the only sane course is to protect whomever and whatever she can in the face of it. The third book takes it much farther, in a much more proactive way, eventually leading us to an all out revolution and breakaway from the grand old empire.

Insane move? Hopelessly outgunned and outpopulated? You better damn believe it. Fortunately, this is a novel about Breq actually belonging somewhere, at long last. It was touching and thrilling in its own way, building upon the previous novels in a way that is obvious in retrospect, and it's awesome.

The AI loves and is loved, despite never quite believing it could happen. Respect, fondness, sure, all of that has been in her memory, but never quite that elusive concept of love. It's her choices, the way she treats people, the way she truly cares that does it. And that same power has the ability and potential to free all the other Ancillaries she has contact with.

Truly beautiful. This novel had the ending and feel of greatness, however abrupt it was, that I wish the second novel had. All told, the full tale is brilliant and worthy of high SF in all it's glory. Freedom and Love, forever!

Update 4/27/16

The novel has been nominated for Hugo for best novel in 2016! It also happens to be nominated for the Nebula, too!

While I did enjoy it, unfortunately, I will not be voting for it. There were several other novels that were superior. I'm not being prejudiced against trilogies, either, but I *do* insist that single novels within a trilogy must be complete and totally awesome in themselves.

This one was awesome in context, which shouldn't impede anyone's enjoyment, but it also pushes it down the list for me.

( )
  bradleyhorner | Jun 1, 2020 |
  allison_s | May 25, 2020 |
It's been some months now since I read "Ancillary Mercy". I held back from reviewing it, not because it wasn't good but because what made it good was so pervasive, so delicate and so intricately linked to the two preceding books, whose meaning it subtly modifies, that I didn't know where to start.

I'm writing this review now so that I can capture how it felt to read, "Ancillary Justice" and finish the Imperial Radch trilogy before I read Ann Leckie's latest book, "Provenance" which set in the same universe but with a very different focus.

Firstly, I was left with a real sense of progression and completeness that I always hope for in a trilogy but rarely get. This completeness comes not from the unravelling of a mystery or from an exponential growth of world-building but from somewhere much more interesting, the emotional growth of the main character.

There aren't many science fiction books I can make that kind of statement about, even fewer when the main character is an AI (although Joel Shepherd's last three books in the Cassandra Kresnove series also do this well).

The first book, "Ancillary Justice", Breq, an AI in a human body who was formerly the warship Justice of Toren, was alone, recovering from crippling betrayal and seeking vengeance. Even then, she seemed to me to be a better person than many of the humans she encountered.

In "Ancillary Sword", Breq has a command of a ship, an imperial mission and an opportunity to repay a debt of honour to the family of one Justice of Toren's officers. In that book, Breq has moved beyond simple vengeance to the consideration of just use of power and the nature of personhood. She is building relationships, administering justice and recreating herself into a person with a very different view of life than the one Justice of Toren had lived within.

What I liked most about "Ancillary Mercy" is that Breq not only completes the building of her new identity but, in doing so, she changes many of the people and AIs around her. Breq has replaced a hunger for revenge with something much more important, the need and ability to love and be loved. She wins the love and loyalty of her human crew. She prompts other Ships and Station AIs to consider their own personhood and desires and she brokers a the opportunity for a kind of peace.

I'm aware that this is not necessarily the explosive ending some people were looking for. I've seen the reviews that complain that too much time in this book is spent making tea. Tea, in Breq's world, is an archetype of civilization. It is about thought, courtesy, respect, discipline, hospitality and refusal to have one's will drowned in the torrent of events. It is about making choices and exercising will. Tea is Breq's alternative to weapons of mass destruction and, in my view, shows that she has transformed herself from an intelligent military asset of the Empire into a person seeking freedom for herself and others.

If you don't find those ideas interesting, then this probably isn't the book for you.

There is, of course, more to the book than tea. There is brinkmanship, warfare, encounters with the disturbingly alien and clashes between cultures and classes that are as old as time.

There is perfectly paced storytelling, that holds you in suspense but never tempts you to skip ahead and most of all there are many, many believable characters who make the story rich and credible.

I'm sure the Imperial Radch trilogy will become one of the classics of science fiction. I know I will read all of it again. But not until I've read "Provence" and anything else new that Ann Lecke publishes. ( )
  MikeFinnFiction | May 16, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 91 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (10 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Ann Leckieprimary authorall editionscalculated
Andoh, AdjoaNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Benshoff, KirkCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Harris, JohnCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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One moment asleep.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Haiku summary
Spaceship friendships bloom;
Station joins in too, helping;
Thwart the evil Lord.

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Ann Leckie is a LibraryThing Author, an author who lists their personal library on LibraryThing.

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Average: (4.19)
2 12
2.5 6
3 59
3.5 34
4 246
4.5 50
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