Ancillary Mercy

The final book of The Imperial Radch series by Ann Leckie, Ancillary Mercy is a great wrap up, tying together a lot of different threads well. But I will say, of the three books in the series, it is the weakest. That doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy it, but the story didn’t capture me quite as much as the previous books.

In this third installment, Breq continues to lead her small group of loyal followers, working to improve life for those on Athoek Station, while also avoiding the crazy half of the leader of the Radch. While at the same time another species comes more into play, The Presgar, along with the constant threat that they may attack and kill everyone. I found the Presgar interesting, but also a distraction, they didn’t seem to flow into the story well for me.

But, as has been the case with the other books, Leckie’s writing captures me at times and I highlighted some bits that really caught me, either in the words themselves, or the meaning behind them.

“And it’s not that simple.” “No, it never is when you’re the one holding the gun.” (loc 3870)

“… I’m willing to accept that person is a word that means something to you, certainly, and I think I might be able to sort of guess what you mean. But really, this business about being a person, that’s apparently so important to you, it means nothing to them. They wouldn’t understand it, no matter how much you tried to explain. They certainly don’t consider it necessary for Significance. So the main question appears to be, do these AIs function as Significant beings? And if so, are they human or not human? You yourself have declared them to be not human. The fleet captain apparently does not dispute that judgment. The question of their Significance will, I suspect, be contentious, but the question has been raised, and I judge it to be a valid one, to be answered at a conclave.” (loc 3881)

Entertainments nearly always end with triumph or disaster—happiness achieved, or total, tragic defeat precluding any hope of it. But there is always more after the ending—always the next morning and the next, always changes, losses and gains. Always one step after the other. Until the one true ending that none of us can escape. But even that ending is only a small one, large as it looms for us. There is still the next morning for everyone else. For the vast majority of the rest of the universe, that ending might as well not ever have happened. Every ending is an arbitrary one. Every ending is, from another angle, not really an ending. (loc 3895)

“… Always remember, Fleet Captain—internal organs belong inside your body. And blood belongs inside your veins.” (loc 3969)

No real endings, no final perfect happiness, no irredeemable despair. (loc 4110)

In the end it’s only ever been one step, and then the next. (loc 4117)