Ancillary Mercy, Ann Leckie
For a while, I wasn’t sure how this book would or could wrap everything up, given the scale of the struggle that we began to see in Ancillary Justice. But I think, in the end, that comes down to the fact that the story isn’t actually about that struggle; this isn’t a never-ending epic struggle, it’s about one person — one fragment of a person, even, slowly becoming a person. It’s about Justice of Toren, and Breq, and then also about the people she interacts with: Seivarden, Ekalu, Ship, Station, Sphene… It’s about people and tangled loyalties and learning.
This makes the small stuff — the tea, the bureaucracy, Tisarwat’s purple eyes, Medic’s attempts to help Seivarden — all-important. So it’s great to see the bit where Seivarden and Breq negotiate mutual comfort; great to see the part where Seivarden struggles to apologise to Ekalu — and then later manages to really apologise to Ekalu. This passage was just so important, because it’s such a sign of how far Seivarden’s come, and such an important thing for people to realise:
“I’ve been thinking about it, and I still don’t understand exactly why what I said hurt you so much. But I don’t need to. It hurt you, and when you told me it hurt you, I should have apologised and stopped saying whatever it was. And maybe spent some time trying to understand. Instead of insisting that you manage your feelings to suit me. And I want to say I’m sorry. And I actually mean it this time.”
Now that’s the way to apologise, sincerely, even when you still don’t understand.
Also, this book does include glimpses of the wider world, beyond the Radch — mentions of the aliens, the presence of another Presger translator, etc. If you’re in this to see Anaander Miaanai go down, then I think you’ll be disappointed with the way the trilogy ends; if you’re in this for Breq and Seivarden and the people gathering around them, then this is an excellent ending.
Well, not an ending, but a good place to stop. You know that Breq will carry on, Seivarden will carry on, and they will still struggle and Anaander will still scheme and Tisarwat has a long way to go. But, “In the end, it’s only ever been one step, and then the next.”