Book Review: Ancillary Mercy

One more book left and I’ll have the epic Imperial Radch trilogy complete!  Ancillary Mercy is the last book in the series and the completion of the trilogy that started with the near-perfect Ancillary Justice. 

The Book

51yOVriXe6LAncillary Mercy
Author: Ann Leckie
2015
Amazon Link

This book was definitely better than Ancillary Sword, which I found to be lacking in comparison to the nigh-perfect Ancillary Justice.  Though the ending was rather abrupt, this book felt like it lived up to the powerful, epic legacy left behind by the first in the trilogy.  No longer left in obscurity, Breq once again takes center stage in an enormous bid for what is proper, just, and beneficial to the citizens of the Radch.

Non-Spoiler Review

While it’s hard to make the assertion for certain, I actually do believe one could read books 1 and 3 in the trilogy and be fine.  I don’t think you need to read the second book.  That being said, you’d probably feel like I’d lied about it if you didn’t take the initiative yourself.

I found this book suitably exciting and epic most of the way through.  I definitely enjoyed myself at most instances.  Translator Zeiat confounded and irritated me, but I could see what Leckie was attempting with that character.  I had hoped for more out of Seivarden, but I wasn’t altogether disappointed.  The biggest let-down was, honestly, the fact that the ending came and went in a snap.  The solution was rather clever, but I’d known it should be coming.  It felt like the balloon of excitement was full and, rather than poking it with a pin, the excitement was allowed to flow back out the entry hole with a ‘squeeeeeee’ noise.

(Spoiler for the first two books in this paragraph) Overall, it was still painfully obvious that Breq and other AI’s were overpowered for the situation.  In the first book, Breq’s power wasn’t so explicitly stated, and it was entirely necessary for her to have those abilities in order to face of the Lord of the Radch.  In the second book, she did nothing wrong and it felt like there wasn’t really that much of a conflict.  In this book, she still feels too powerful for her own good, though not in quite as terribly blatant a manner as was in the second book.

4/5 Discoball Snowcones

4 Discoball Snowcones

SPOILERS REVIEW

Breq being overpowered was, once again, my biggest complaint with the book.  While she’s not entirely unbeatable like she was in the second book, she has more advantages than she really deserved.  When four ships invade the system in effort to take over Athoek Station, Breq tethers herself to the hull of Mercy of Kalr (her ship) and fires a rifle at battleships thousands of kilometers away.

… and two of those ships are destroyed, one put out of commission for the time being.

To me, that was ridiculous.  Up until this point, the Garseddai Gun that Breq had used followed the rules of ‘every bullet penetrates whatever it shoots by 1.11 meters.’  Now, when used against a ship, the bullets are so totally destructive that a few shots can cause them to be put entirely out of commission.  What’s more?  When the gun is later fired multiple times at a Presger translator, it causes them to vomit.  That’s it.  It didn’t follow from the information previously given, and seemed entirely too convenient.

You may make the argument that Breq’s success with the Garseddai Gun in taking out 2.5 ships was equally met with the loss of a leg.  However, I would counter that medical technology answered that problem.  Breq’s leg would eventually be re-grown, even if not on the schedule she wanted.  She was forced to rely on Seivarden to perform a physical task, and Seivarden failed, making it even more obvious just how overpowered Breq has always been.  Breq succeeded in the end because of the prep-work she did immediately before leaving the station and… well…

Like I said, the ending was abrupt.  If you’ve read about this book anywhere online, you probably already know that the book ends with the extension of Presger/alien protection to AIs.  Breq thought of that on the fly and, save for a small bit of meddling by Tisarwat, finished the battle for Athoek Station.  It was a bit of a let-down for me.

Overall, though, there was a lot of excitement.  Anaander Mianaai was a threat in this one, and the introduction of Sphene was very entertaining.  Station’s freedom and subsequent rise was probably my favorite part of the book.  I have the aforementioned issues with the book, but as a whole I’d suggest it.

Next week:

New month starts next week!  Stay tuned for an exciting reveal of my May reads!

Also, if you’re an indie or self-published author, PLEASE let me know.  I have Indie Months coming up in July and October that I need to have books for!

4 thoughts on “Book Review: Ancillary Mercy

  1. D. Wallace Peach says:

    You made an interesting comment about the character’s abilities being too powerful. And about being able to just skip the second book. But it sounds like you enjoyed the series overall. Thanks for the review and recommendation. 🙂

    • H.R.R. Gorman says:

      I did. There were glaring issues, but overall it was very enjoyable. The first book alone was quite nearly the most perfect thing I’ve ever read, but the sequels didn’t quite live up to that high bar.

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