Genre: science fiction
Length: 328 pages
Setting: in and around Athoek Station, soon after the events of Ancillary Sword
Interest: It’s the third and final book in the very enjoyable Imperial Radch series
Summary: Breq is still trying to put out fires at Athoek Station. With the Undergarden damaged, there’s a shortage of housing. The religious leader is leading a protest regarding who should be housed in the repaired Undergarden (preferably not the minority group that has been living there). Turns out, she’s helping to hide the fact that Anaander Mianaai has hidden three AI cores in the Undergarden. Add to the mix a Presgar Translator who needs to be entertained and kept out of trouble, and an ancillary from Sphene, an old ship hanging out beyond the Ghost Gate, and Breq has a lot on her plate. Anaander Mianaai makes it even more difficult when a clone of her that wants to destroy Breq shows up at the station. The leadership at Athoek Station follows Mianaai’s lead, but quickly notices she has less concern for the station and its inhabitants than Breq showed. The AI of the Station itself helps Breq and her forces regain control of the system from Mianaai. Breq also brings up the idea that Ship and Station AIs are Significant nonhuman beings and shouldn’t be controlled by humans.
Final thoughts: I get sucked so quickly into the world of this series and love it. At times, I found Breq’s internal monologue to be a bit repetitive, but I saw it as her trying to rationalize her choices to herself. My internal monologue can get a bit repetitive as well. The book continues the theme of sticking up for the underdog and making sure everyone has a voice at the table. Breq also learns she’s been invading people’s privacy by having the Ship feed her data, and she resolves to make changes. Breq isn’t perfect. She just doesn’t let emotions cloud her decisions so her choices usually end up being right in the end. My favorite character was the Presgar Translator, who looked human and you expected to act human, but she wasn’t human so she questioned many of the human assumptions. (Fish sauce is a liquid; therefore, it’s meant to be drunk, right?) In many respects, she acted like a child, but then would spout some fascinating Presgar rationals.
Overall, it was a strong wrap-up to the series. Not every thread was wrapped into a neat end (what will the Presgar do with the idea AIs are Significant nonhumans? How will that change human space and space travel?). Even the threat of Anaander and which faction of her personality wins wasn’t decided, but Breq made a safe haven in a crazy world, and she’s willing to sacrifice all to keep it safe for the people in that system.
Title comes from: It completes the triad of ship types names in the series. A Mercy is the smallest of the battleships.
Reading challenges fulfilled: #36 in my Maybe 100 This Year Challenge
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