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Book Review: Ancillary Mercy by Ann Leckie

Friday, December 1, 2017 - 06:45

If Ancillary Justice was a fascinating tour in non-linear exposition, and Ancillary Sword felt like a cozy mystery set in the midst of a space opera, Ancillary Mercy struck me as an interstellar version of the folktale motif “six go through the world”. That is, a protagonist accumulates a set of unlikely and improbable allies simply due to treating those she encounters with honesty, empathy, and (if you will forgive the word) humanity, to find that those allies come through with a vengeance when the chips are down. And the essence of Breq’s success in gaining allies is the question "what counts as 'humanity?" Who deserves to be treated as having equal significance and whose consent is worth respecting? Issues of colonialism and class consciousness play out at multiple levels and there are additional mythic resonances to reward the observant reader. (For example, the motif of redemption through willing self-sacrifice.) If the resolution relies overmuch on the triumph of good will and virtue, I’m happy to see those things triumph on occasion at the moment. This was a very satisfying conclusion to the trilogy.

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