TITLE: Ancillary Mercy
AUTHOR: Ann Leckie
The third book in the Imperial Radch trilogy picks up where the second left off. Reviewing a book that continues a story works only if people reading the review have read the earlier books, in my opinion, so I won't go deeply into the plot. Leckie's universe centers on the Radch and their leader who have built an empire through conquering other planets and bringing alien humans into the fold by any means necessary. Which usually means killing a lot of them until compliance is reached and the realm back, more or less, in balance. Citizens of conquered planets have been taken captive and turned into slave labor by having their minds replaced with implants to connect them to a ship's AI. Thus, the ancillaries of the books' titles: Ancillary Justice, Ancillary Sword, and now, Ancillary Mercy. Even Anaander Mianaai, the Radch ruler, is spread out across Radch space in thousands of ancillaries. They should all be the same mind, but something happened, a schism, that has one part of her deciding ancillaries are wrong and should no longer be created and another part of her thinking ancillaries are fine. Basically, the Lord of the Radch is at war with herself, and the destroyed ship Justice of Toren, now confined to a single ancillary and captain of the Mercy of Kalr, is stuck in the middle, sent by one Anaander to protect a space station and its nearby planet, and under imminent attack by an opposing Anaander. Which somehow, isn't as complicated or convoluted as it sounds.
By time I started this book, I was in love with Breq, as Justice of Toren is calling herself, and her officers and crew. This isn't a big battle in space type story, though there is some action. There's more twists and turns and political machinations and spycraft and it all adds up to a fast-paced story and I was sorry to say goodbye to Breq and all the others. I hope Leckie writes more books in this universe she's constructed, a realm where most places, no one pays any mind to gender and "she" and "her" are simply default pronouns. A realm where AIs seem as human as the humans they protect and serve. It's an interesting place I hope I get to visit again.