Ancillary Mercy brings to a conclusion Ann Leckie's Imperial Radch trilogy that opened with the multi award winning Ancillary Justice. Indeed, a warning about the disappointment in store is illustrated by the book cover that continues to be covered in praise for Ancillary Justice, not Ancillary Mercy. The book is aptly named as the trilogy has been such a disappointment feels like a mercy killing. The universe that Leckie has created is fascinating and I would welcome her continuing to explore it in standalone novels, as in Iain M Banks Culture Series, but this Breq story arc needs to be put into suspended animation.
This concluding part of the trilogy continues the story directly from its disappointing predecessor, but any hope that Ancillary Mercy was a sagging middle before a resounding end to the trilogy is quickly dissipated. This novel still has the feel of a TV episode based on the movie, although with more of the overarching galactic civil war story coming into the latter stages of the book. A particularly disappointing part of the narrative is the treatment of the all-powerful Presger race, who designed the gun that Breq sought in Ancillary Justice. Their ambassador appeared in Ancillary Sword as an interesting character, but the new ambassador in Ancillary Mercy is treated as comic relief along the lines of Jar Jar Binks in the Star Wars movie series.
The denouement of the trilogy closes on such an inconclusive note that it appears to be preparing the way for a continuation of the Imperial Radch series beyond this trilogy and it would be interesting to see how Leckie plays out the civil war and the relationship to the Presger. Breq's trilogy has, however, lost its way and I hope that she drops out of the story to make way for a better exploration of Leckie's fascinating universe.