Well, that was unexpected…

Written by
Ann Leckie in 2015

Conclusions to a trilogy are always hard, unless you had a plan for the end right from the get-go of course. In the case of Ancillary Mercy, the ending seems to have elements of writing according to a plan, and of making some stuff up on the fly as you go.

The good thing about having a Kindle is that it tells you the average time it takes to read a book. The previous entries in the Ancillary Trilogy took a decent amount of time to read. Boy was I surprised at the apparent brevity of this final book. And, yes, it is indeed much shorter.

The primary reason is that we’re now at the pointy end of things. The conflict between different iterations of the Lord of Radch, Anaander Mianaai, is coming to a head in this book and Fleet Captain Breq is smack bang in the middle of it all. Also, there isn’t much world building left to do here, since practically all the events take place in the same place as book two.

Ancillary Mercy begins pretty much right after the end of Ancillary Sword. Breq has just been almost blown up by a bomb. Chaos is threatening to break free on Athoek station as the civil war continues outside of the system. Meanwhile, there are now rumblings about whether the station’s nearly derelict Undergarden should be repaired.

Before all that even happens though, a mysterious person is found in the Undergarden, safely hidden away, that has links to an ancient and mysterious tea set. Breq quickly deduces who and what that person is. At nearly the same time, the Presger, a super powerful alien race, sends a new ambassador to the station to replace the one killed in the previous book. The ambassador serves as both jocular entertainment, and as a major crux of the book.

Oh, and also a very angry shard of Anaader Mianaai shows up to try to take back control of the situtaion. The confluence of all these things ends in a very unexpected, yet very neat and tidy, manner.

We always knew, reading the Ancillary Trilogy that the resolution of the full blown civil war between the Mianaai fragments would be difficult to comprehend, as well as the number of fragments of the tyrant herself. Radch space was built up to be too big and too powerful to bring down easily. Instead, we focus on an individual slice of the empire, big enough to build a world around, yet small enough to be written about convincingly.

Ann Leckie does a fine job on all those counts, and also provides some very welcome comic relief in the form of Presger Translator Zeiat. Or Dlique. Who eats everything (like my dog), but develops a penchant for fish sauce. I guess you had to be there.

As a conclusion to a very excellent series, Ancillary Mercy fits the bill. It does absolutely everything that’s required of it, and it doesn’t deviate from the course of its objective. There are no extraneous complications in the plot, no new strange tangents. And certainly, it stays true to the books that went before it. The end is probably unexpected and a bit abrupt, but then you realise that any other ending would have been drawn out and unrealistic.


Satisfying and conclusive. Also, with a wicked dash of humour included.

Read this if you…

Are dying to find out just how Breq’s little insubordination will go.

Skip this if you…

Don’t like tea.


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