Audiobook Review: Ancillary Mercy by Ann Leckie
Narrator: Adjoa Andoh
Series: Imperial Radch #3
Also by this author: Ancillary Justice
Published by Hachette Audio, Orbit on October 6th 2015
Genres: Science Fiction
Length: 10 hours 54 minutes
Also in this series: Ancillary Justice
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 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.
Ancillary Mercy brings the Imperial Radch trilogy to a close with a good dose of its infamous tea. It did amuse me, I have heard so many people talk about how much tea there is in these books, but for some reason it never registered until this third book. Perhaps because I had heard it mentioned so often in reviews and comments, or maybe it was because I switched formats from print to audiobook for this one and for some reason it was more noticeable in audio. Either way, it lends a bit of a “sit and relax a bit, maybe contemplate the current situation” feel to all the things going on.
This book further delved into Breq coming to terms with being more of an individual. It’s amazing really to think back to what her character was like in the first book to the end of this. Each book, she has become a bit less of the impersonal AI and a bit more of an individual person. She continues with her plan of vengeance, to destroy the Lord of the Radchaai. Ah, the good old crazy Lord of Radchaai, at war with herself. Always a intriguing antagonist.
This book also further explores the hive mind AI made up of multiple bodies, but what happens when just one body is left. Who does this person become? This is not a new concept, it’s one you should be quite familiar with by this point in the series, but it is one that continues to be fascinating, and continues to be expanded on in this book.
We got a satisfying conclusion to not just Breq, but also Seivarden. Really, I leave this feeling good. I know not everyone loved the second book as much as I did, but I hope that they continue the series, and can appreciate that middle book after reading this. A series that started with an AI where there were no individuals, ends with a note of individualization and sense of self means everything. It was very well done, very touching, and is very much worth reading. Read it with tea, served in chipped enamel. It’ll help set the tone, and reinforce atmosphere.
Audiobook note: I mentioned my switch to audiobook for this one, and while I felt the performance was good, I think I actually preferred reading this series to listening. Its not that the audiobook had any issues I could identify, I think perhaps just my familiarity with the series left me wishing I had not changed it up for this. Oh well. Honestly, the story is well done, and I recommend the series whole heartedly. Pick whatever format you feel will work best for you.