Ancillary Mercy does a good job blending the larger overarching story and style of Ancillary Justice and the much closer to home sequel Ancillary Sword. The universe is still relatively limited to a pair of star systems plus the planet and station of Athoek.
For the most part, it’s a good mix and a much better sequel to Ancillary Justice than Ancillary Sword was. On the other hand, we still don’t get to really deal with any of the overarching story telling that we got at first. We meet a few new ancillaries, but they never really act as ancillaries. One of Anaander Mianaai shows up, but she’s almost comically out classed. There’s no real threat there. We meet a new Presger translator who is delightfully odd… to an extent that pushes past surreal all the way to unbelievable.
And then there’s the finale. It’s a fascinating argument. One that I should have seen coming. It’s actually a really neat idea, forcing the Presger to deal with the AIs as well the humans . But it just seems to wrap up things entirely too neatly and then end. We don’t get to see any of the fallout (perhaps another sequel?). Things just end.
The interesting way of dealing with gender continues through this book. It’s no longer a point that’s brought up every few pages (or at all really), just everyone uses the Radch pronouns. It was an interesting thought at first and it’s interesting to see it fade into normalcy so seamlessly.
Also, this book / author is obsessed with tea. It’s an interesting world building choice, but I still haven’t decided it it was a way to show that this isn’t our world or overdone. I’m leaning towards the latter though… I want to go make some tea now though, so I guess that’s a thing?
Overall, it’s not as strong as Ancillary Justice but better than Ancillary Sword. I’m not sure if it’s supposed to be the last book of the series, but Goodreads doesn’t have a potential fourth on its list, so possibly? If there’s another, I will read it. If not, I guess this serves as an adequate ending.