Ancillary Mercy by Ann Leckie
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I have to say this book puts the previous one in an entirely new and better light. I was left with Ancillary Sword being somehow a lot *less* than Ancillary Justice, but that's only because I had missed it's true purpose and eventual outcome, which, thankfully, became extremely pleasant in this third novel.
You know how it is, the curse of the middle novel. Less action, more buildup, slower and more subtle. Okay, maybe the themes weren't very subtle at all, revolving as it had upon the hinges of being civilized. But that's okay. The first novel established quite a bit of homelessness, identity issues, loss, and near hopelessness in the face of such an insane power. The second established a thoughtful and forward-looking pace under the realization that Breq's sometime Rachii boss is damn nuts, and the only sane course is to protect whomever and whatever she can in the face of it. The third book takes it much farther, in a much more proactive way, eventually leading us to an all out revolution and breakaway from the grand old empire.
Insane move? Hopelessly outgunned and outpopulated? You better damn believe it. Fortunately, this is a novel about Breq actually belonging somewhere, at long last. It was touching and thrilling in its own way, building upon the previous novels in a way that is obvious in retrospect, and it's awesome.
The AI loves and is loved, despite never quite believing it could happen. Respect, fondness, sure, all of that has been in her memory, but never quite that elusive concept of love. It's her choices, the way she treats people, the way she truly cares that does it. And that same power has the ability and potential to free all the other Ancillaries she has contact with.
Truly beautiful. This novel had the ending and feel of greatness, however abrupt it was, that I wish the second novel had. All told, the full tale is brilliant and worthy of high SF in all it's glory. Freedom and Love, forever!
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