Leckie, Ann: (01-03) Ancillary Justice, Sword, Mercy

I have finally gotten around to reading Ann Leckie’s complete Imperial Radch trilogy and I am dusting off this booklog to talk about it quickly. (Also pulling out a bunch of notes or mostly-written entries on other books while I’m at it.)

As you may recall, I really liked Ancillary Justice and was unsure what to think about Ancillary Sword because it was very much a middle book. Sword kept looking worse in retrospect to me, so when I tried reading Ancillary Mercy, the concluding volume, and realized I needed to reread Sword to make sense of it, I lost a lot of enthusiasm for the prospect. (The opening absolutely tries to orient the reader, but I’d forgotten so much that it wasn’t enough.) But, very recently, I needed to reread Justice for reasons not relevant here, which reminded me of how much I loved it. So I resolved to push quickly through Sword so I could finally get to Mercy.

This worked very well indeed. Not only did my love of Justice give me the momentum to get through Sword, but it had the benefit of getting me in the proper frame of mind to approach the scope of the ending. I know some people would have preferred that Mercy go wider, and that’s entirely understandable; but Justice is explicitly about doing the small, hopeless-seeming things because they’re the right thing to do and might make a difference, who knows. And I found satisfying the way Mercy developed this theme about the meaningfulness of smaller actions, while also hinting at ways that the immediate resolution could have much wider effects.

Sword looks somewhat better now, too. The plantation section is probably always going to feel like low-hanging fruit for me, but it’s less of the book than I remembered (like Frodo & Sam in Mordor). And now I know Sword wasn’t a standalone episode, but necessary setup for the last book, which addresses my other major concern about it.

I found Mercy compulsively readable, funny (fish sauce!), and tense. It put something on the table that I somehow failed to realize should’ve been all along, and it’s always great when a book can pull that kind of inevitable surprise. It introduced two awesome new characters and continued to develop several existing ones. And it was generally very satisfying and heartening. I’m glad I finally read it.

Finally, if you haven’t read “She Commands Me and I Obey” yet, you should definitely do that.

3 Comments

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  1. I can understand those who wanted a more expansive space-opera-ish feel to the second and third books, but I quite liked them once I acclimated to what they were doing. I don’t they quite rise to the level of the first book, but that, after all, was setting a very high standard.

  2. It’s hard for me to say–there will never be the freshness of the first, but so much of the third builds on what’s come before, you know?

  3. Thanks for the tip re “She Commands Me and I Obey”

    If all goes well, I have a date with Leckie at Bookshop Santa Cruz late this month. She’s on tour for the new book. Hope I can make it!

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