Review: Ancillary Mercy by Ann Leckie
Orbit / #3 of 3, Imperial Radch
“The point is, there is not point. Choose your own.”
This review remains spoiler-free for all three books, apart from character mentions (so you’ll be aware of a couple of people who are still alive as of Ancillary Mercy).
As with Ancillary Justice, I’m struggling to write a review for Mercy that doesn’t for sound like incoherent gushing because I loved it so much. An example of how much: I picked it up today with the idea of flipping through to find a quote for the beginning of the review, and two hours later realized that I hadn’t moved and was halfway through rereading it. Most of this book is people just talking to each other, politicking and navigating personal relationships, and yet it is completely spellbinding and impossible to put down. Moments of suspense and action are combined with social commentary and a rich array of thematic material about how people (some of them AIs) negotiate sentience, decision-making, personhood, privilege, feelings, self-determination. And did I mention the protagonist being a singing spaceship?!? These books are amazing. Ann Leckie is amazing.
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Review: Heaven’s Queen by Rachel Bach
Space Opera / #3 of 3, Paradox Trilogy
“Trouble was, I’d stopped being a merc at some point over the last week. I wasn’t sure what I was anymore exactly, but on one thing I was absolutely certain: I was not going to throw anyone to the wolves on this… I didn’t care if it was nigh impossible.”
In the final book of the Paradox Trilogy (go back to reviews for book 1 or book 2 if you’re not here yet!) Devi has learned more about the danger and potential power of the virus she is carrying. Everyone has a different idea of what to do with her, and everyone is after her to try and make it happen… but Devi is tired of being jerked around. She’s ready to solve things in her own way, on her own terms, and heaven help the person who tries to stop her.
The first half of Heaven’s Queen disappointed me. The second half surpassed my highest expectations! A most talented book.
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Review: Honor’s Knight by Rachel Bach
Space opera / #2 of 3, Paradox Trilogy
“The truth is that there are no heroes. We’re all villains excusing our actions by hiding behind a greater good.”
I have, through some miracle of vagueness, avoided any spoilers in this review for either book in the Paradox series, so feel free to read on. That said, to get a better idea of the premise, you may wish to start with a review of book number one Fortune’s Pawn.
Honor’s Knight is FANTASTIC. It took everything I liked about the first book and made it BETTER. So much better that I’m having to resort to caps lock to express myself. The same great characters I came to care about from the first book, but the stakes are higher now, the plot is more challenging, and the romance was comparatively deemphasized. I couldn’t have been more thrilled with this book.
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Review: Fortune’s Pawn by Rachel Bach
Space Opera / #1 of 3, Paradox
“Did I pick safety or ambition? The slow and steady or the gamble? I smiled. Put like that, it wasn’t even a question.”
Mercenary Devi Morris is determined to become part of an elite fighting unit called the Devastators, and as soon as possible. She takes a position on The Glorious Fool, a spaceship whose infamously high death rates have left it with the reputation of being cursed, after being told that surviving one year on the Fool is worth ten on a normal spacecraft in terms of experience. But while on board, she begins to discover that The Glorious Fool is not the innocuous trading ship it appears to be, and its captain is harbouring a dangerous secret.
This book is solidly addictive space opera fun. It’s like if Pacific Rim and Firefly had a baby: an adventuring spaceship crew, combat between people in mechanized heavy armour, and a no-nonsense, gun-toting hero. It’s the latter of these things which really sold me on this book. Devi is close to how I imagine my version of Mass Effect protagonist Commander Shepard, and since I love playing the Mass Effect games more than most things in life, that is a really good thing.
Continue reading Book Review: Fortune’s Pawn (Rachel Bach)
Review: Ancillary Sword by Ann Leckie
Science Fiction – #2 of 3, Imperial Radch
“When they behave properly, you will say there is no problem. When they complain loudly, you will say they cause their own problems with their impropriety. And when they are driven to extremes, you say you will not reward such actions. What will it take for you to listen?”
After the events of Ancillary Justice, Breq has a ship and crew at her disposal, and is en route to the system of Athoek, one of many places “civilized” by the expansionist Radch Empire. Her goal is to bring stability to the system, a goal that is complicated by a repressive and stratified class system, the Radch Empire being on the brink of civil war, and the unnerving presence of a translator from the alien race the Presger – the only people to have created a weapon capable of destroying Radch ships.
I recently started my first reread of Ancillary Justice (let’s shorten it to Justice, from hereon out), the first book in Ann Leckie’s Imperial Radch trilogy about imperialism and fragmented identity and loss. So far I still haven’t found a single thing about it I don’t absolutely adore. That is a lot to live up to, and unlike Justice I did have some critical thoughts about sequel Ancillary Sword (Sword, from hereon out). But that said, I loved every second of my reading experience with Sword, can’t wait to reread it, and overall feel like it more than met my incredibly high expectations.
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Review: Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie
Science Fiction – #1 of 3, Imperial Radch Trilogy
“If you’re going to do something that crazy, save it for when it’ll make a difference, Lieutenant Skaaiat had said, and I had agreed. I still agree. The problem is knowing when what you are about to do will make a difference… The single word that directs a person’s fate and ultimately the fates of those she comes in contact with is of course a common subject of entertainments and moralizing stories, but if everyone were to consider all the possible consequences of all one’s possible choices, no one would move a millimeter, or even dare to breathe for fear of the ultimate results.”
I already expressed some pre-review excitement on this blog. That entry can basically be summed up with the following:
- Ancillary Justice is a book about a SENTIENT SPACESHIP that enjoys SINGING
- And it’s amazing
Ancillary Justice takes place during two different periods of our starship protagonist Breq’s existence. Created as a tool for the expansionist Radch Empire, one timeline focuses on her experiences as a segment of twenty bodies (ancillaries) enforcing for the Empire on an annexed planet. In the second timeline, she has only a single body, and she is outside of Radch territory and on a mission of her own. What happened to Breq and what she is doing now are gradually revealed in an exciting and fantastic space opera, and possibly my new favourite book ever.
Continue reading Book Review: Ancillary Justice (Ann Leckie)