There are a few things that I need to talk about before I begin this review. First, the review is for three books, Ancillary Justice, Ancillary Sword and Ancillary Mercy, the three books in Ann Leckie’s Imperial Radch Trilogy. Or is it the first three books of her Imperial Radch Series? I believe it’s a trilogy, but time will tell.
I try to make sure there are no spoilers in my reviews. In this one I take it to an extreme. There is something you will figure out in the first chapter or two of the first book, Ancillary Justice. It is perhaps the core idea of the series. But to me it was a “wow, very cool!” moment when I discovered it. I’d feel evil if I took that moment away from you. I am going to talk about things you’ll find out along the way, but they aren’t the “Wow, very cool!” type things as this fundamental concept of the author’s universe.
One thing you’ll figure out later in the book is what the names of the books are about. In this universe an “ancillary” is a human body that is controlled by another intelligence as part of a larger, cohesive unit. The “bigger” intelligence is usually an artificial intelligence of a ship. That isn’t a great definition, but will do to get you started. And what are the ships that have these “ancillaries” tied into their network? There are generally three types that are important in the books (again, with a grain of salt), all three being armed military ships with the ancillaries being used, in one role, as soldiers. The three ships are the huge troop carriers, the Justices (i.e., like the first book), the much smaller, faster Swords (second book) and the Mercies (third book). I’m not sure exactly what a Mercy is except that it isn’t as well armed as a Sword, at least not for ship to ship combat. So, we have three ship types and three books with the ships in the title, which, at least in part, is where my guess that the series will stop at a trilogy comes from. Continue reading