My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Jacket Blurb: The stunning conclusion to the trilogy that began with the Hugo, Nebula, and Arthur C. Clarke award-winning Ancillary Justice.
For a moment, things seem to be under control for the soldier known as Breq. Then a search of Atheok Station's slums turns up someone who shouldn't exist - someone who might be an ancillary from a ship that's been hiding beyond the empire's reach for three thousand years. Meanwhile, a messenger from the alien and mysterious Presger empire arrives, as does Breq's enemy, the divided and quite possibly insane Anaander Mianaai - ruler of an empire at war with itself.
Anaander is heavily armed and extremely unhappy with Breq. She could take her ship and crew and flee, but that would leave everyone at Athoek in terrible danger. Breq has a desperate plan. The odds aren't good, but that's never stopped her before.
Read for March book group. Number three in the Radch series.
I really enjoyed this installment. So many things just worked for me:
- I thought the book moved smartly along, with Breq pushing events more than reacting as she did in the second book.
- I thought Translator Zeiat and Sphene were a great counterpoint to what could have been a rather dry plot. That the Presger was a bit...off, made it clear that the alien race didn't think the same as humanity. And the author coming up with the idea of fish sauce, oysters and fish! Loved it!
- I enjoyed the dialog that examined what defines a 'human', and how the Presger seriously considered Breq's demands helped balance the quirkiness of the Translator.
- I also immensely enjoyed the Breq's growing understanding of how Station and Ship saw themselves, and how perhaps, Station and Ship wanted more, or at least to be acknowledged that they could do more, even if Ship and Station didn't necessarily want titles. Except, I did really like how Station wanted to be called "Cousin" by Breq and Sphene.
This book isn't without it's issues, it had a lot going on, numerous moving pieces and I had the vague feeling that some pieces were left behind or not quite satisfactorily resolved. For example, without giving any spoilers, Tisarwat boards a ship at one point for covert activities, they are caught, and next we see her is at the climatic conclusion. It felt like something was missing in between, like a Saturday afternoon movie that you've seen a hundred times and recognize where something was cut out.
And this is a totally silly nitpick - where is Mercy of Klar getting eggs so the Translator and Sphene can play with eggshells? Do they have space chickens? Could be ducks I suppose, or quail - so space poultry? Did they bring the eggs up from the planet or the station? How was station raising chickens?
Blurb on the book is dubbing this a "stunning conclusion" to this series. In my opinion, this really didn't come across as "stunning" - interesting, yes - nor did it feel like a complete everything's all wrapped with a bow conclusion. That there was definitely wiggle room and opportunity for more. I would like to see more...
Overall, I greatly enjoyed the third book in the series. I found it engaging, humorous, thought provoking, and the plot and characters pulled me right along. Recommended if you've read the first two, which is a must. This is not a stand-alone in any way.
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