Ann Leckie: Ancillary Mercy

Jun 30, 2016

I simply love the Imperial Radch trilogy by Ann Leckie. I found out about it through The Incomparable years ago and finally have finished the last book, Ancillary Mercy.

The scope of the story gets smaller and smaller. Ancillary Sword introduced a space opera with an empire spanning galaxies, in contact with an alien race wielding seemingly unlimited power, in a hidden civil war led by fractions of the multi-bodied emperor suffering from the biggest instance of a split-brain. Ancillary Justice reduced the scope to just one solar system and pretty much to just one space station and one farm on one planet. Ancillary Mercy goes even further and gets into the details of personal lives of the protagonists.

Judging by the reviews, there are people who are immensely bothered by this development. I’ve never been a huge fan of space opera, so I didn’t really mind when the story took a turn to a more personal and intimate narrative. I love the running commentary about class, race, personal and professional relationships, tea, and tea china. I don’t really miss action (and there’s still a lot left anyway) and prefer the focus on politics and subtleties of relationships of all kinds.

I am sending local intelligence, and my own official reports, with many thanks for the fleet captain’s offer to pass them on to the appropriate authorities.” And bundled that up with a week’s worth of every scrap of official news I could find, including the results of seventy-five regional downwell radish-growing competitions that had been announced just that morning, which I flagged as worthy of special attention. And a month’s worth of my own routine reports and status records, dozens of them, every single line of every single one of them filled out with exactly the same two words: Fuck off.

Ann Leckie: Ancillary Mercy

After reading some of the negative reviews, I realized, that the conclusion was rather weak and predictable, yet I still enjoyed it in the way “let me see if I got this figured out correctly”. Plus the new translator Dlique is hilarious in his inability to grasp all the nuances of Radch etiquette.

I wouldn’t recommend the series to anyone. The first book is an enticing read set in a great world with fine details everyone could enjoy. But the following books seem to be just for some readers who don’t mind more personal stories.