First, let’s talk about how I was a little underwhelmed by the covers of this UNTIL I REALIZED IT MADE A PICTURE!
5 out of 5 explose-tastic stars
I have so many emotionals (read: feels) about the end of this series. I’m sad it has ended. I want to keep exploring the Radch-averse with Breq and Seivarden and Ship and I want to see Tisarwat grow into herself and not be a baby Leiutenant anymore…. Sigh.
This one doesn’t quite have the driving plot of the others until you’re about halfway through – but when things get going, hold on to your trousers!
The setting is still in the Athoek system, and we know Anaander Mianaai, the Lord of the Raadch is continuing her war against herself, which has erupted into the open after having been clandestine for over a thousand years. The other books felt more like they were about colonialism and individuality, but the the driving idea of the 3rd book was more about the responsibility a human society has towards its creations – especially when those creations are given intelligence. Holy shit, I just realized most of that as I was typing it out. There was also a lot more about sex, not as a romantic notion but as a release valve and how relationships work in this universe. The notions feel alien, but familiar. Just another bit of worldbuilding that makes this series so great.
In the last book, Breq and Mercy of Kalr were sent to Athoek station to maintain security. After the showdown with the “other” Anaander Mianaai’s agents, there is a lot of damage to the station and a lot of housework that needs to be done. The station itself is a mess, and the people that lived in the Undergarden have found themselves adrift and homeless. They were unwelcome before, they are doubly unwelcome now, and people with money and status want to move into the Undergarden, as before it was sealed off it was very swanky, indeed. This doesn’t go down well with the people who had been living there. It seems like it’s all going to be paperwork and bunk assignments… until a series of strange sensor readings. Things really take off then, and it’s just back to the mindblowing intelligent/action-adventure mindgasm that is this series.
The character development in this is amazing. First of all, we have ships and space stations as characters. The character development itself is a question: can they be characters, or are they just hardware? I’ve been so concerned with plot in my other reviews I think I’ve short-shrifted the characters other than Breq. Shrene, a mysterious character who had been hiding out in the undergarden and Zeiet, the Presger translator, are funny on their own, but put them together and it’s a series of conversations that seem ridiculous but are also full of observations about humanity. Sublime and ridiculous at the same time. That is hard to do…and Leckie does it well. We also see more of Seivarden dealing with recovery from his addiction and how it affects both himself and his relationships. It’s weird using a male pronoun… and you should know what that means by now, because I’ve gone on and on about the use of pronouns in this series. We see Tisarwat dealing with more responsibilities and being thwarted in some of her designs and how she deals with that. And of course… Breq. She has some real breakthroughs in her relationships with the ship and her crew, and much emotional upheaval is felt… by the reader. So much emotional upheaval.
I am so glad I found this series. I hope Ann Leckie comes back to it- there could be so many more stories in this universe. I just loved this. I see myself coming back to it – and continuing to recommend it to everyone.