Warning: This post is kind of long. I also marked it as having spoilers, because I didn't bother to be careful about what I mentioned and what I didn't.
I start off with all the updates I never made, and end with more general comments about the book and trilogy as a whole.
“I shouldn't've...that wasn't right. I don't like Captain Hetnys, and you know that, but there's no reason for me to be insulting her. At a time like this. Especially to you.” (243)
Like Grim said, this series is filled with wonderful moments of compassion and understanding. So we have Seivarden apologizing for insulting Captain Hetnys, even though Hetnys sucks, because she understands that Sword of Atagaris loves her. Heck, there are even moments like that for Anaander. I can read about Tisarwat and imagine a very young, very ambitious, very full of herself Anaander thinking “I could protect the Radchaai people better than this. I could.”
I won't quote it, but I loved the entire showdown between Station and Anaander late in the book. I'm so glad Station got to be awesome and actively protect its residents. After centuries of being damaged and neglected, it deserved to have a chance to shine.
Related to that:
“I had to do something, Lieutenant,” Station, in Seivarden's ear, and Basnaaid's. “You're right, it's not the sort of thing I'm used to doing. I tried to imagine what Fleet Captain Breq would do.” (262)
Station asking itself “What would Breq do?” and imitating her as best as possible. Oh, my heart. Breq had a great role model in Awn, and Station has a great one in Breq.
“I'll never forgive her,” said Amaat Nine. Said Mercy of Kalr. (286)
This. And all the goodbyes with Medic and Kalr Five. Even though I knew how it would turn out, it still made me feel weepy.
“Get on the shuttle, Amaat,” I repeated. And to Seivarden, “You don't know what you're doing.”
“I don't think I ever have,” she replied. “But it's always been the right choice to stay with you.” (300-301)
I love that Leckie spent so much time on the characters and their relationships. The Perfect Scene was glorious, but it was little moments like this that made those relationships feel three-dimensional.
“Your very great pardon, Cousin,” said Sphene, “but this having meetings so we can plan to have meetings business is bullshit.” (321)
Oh, Sphene. I wish I could sic you on a couple people at work next time someone brings up sub-sub-committees like they'd be a good idea.
I finished two days later than my buddy, but I did finish, and I enjoyed every minute of it. As a very character-oriented reader, this trilogy gave me so much to love, and it certainly didn't hurt that Leckie included a few things that I, personally, keep an eye out for in fiction. Her AI characters were phenomenal and wonderfully varied. Also, one thing I didn't mention in my original review since it touches on some personal stuff, I was very happy about her inclusion of asexual characters and relationships. I identify as asexual, although, for various reasons, I'll probably never mention it in my reviews - I thought about it and decided I was okay with mentioning it in this post.
The way Leckie handled everything was lovely, and not something you see in a lot of fiction with prominent asexual characters. Yes, most of the asexual characters were non-human, but there was at least one human who was probably asexual (Medic, if Breq's guess in Ancillary Sword was correct). The fact that characters were asexual was explicitly mentioned. And then there was the wonderful and complex relationship between Mercy of Kalr, Breq, and Seivarden, which came together in a way I've never seen in even the best stories I've read with asexual main characters. To give you an idea, most of those would have paired Breq off with Seivarden and had her offer to take care of Seivarden's sexual needs herself, or would have set things up so that it was Breq/Seivarden/Ekalu. It was nice to see something different, done so well. And I should mention, I didn't start reading this trilogy expecting most of what it gave me – I just wanted to read about AIs.
Changing gears, I'm also glad that several fan theories I saw (in both fanfic and fan post form) never came to be. There were people who theorized that Seivarden would betray Breq, or who thought that Seivarden was destined to be the Ghost Gate ship's captain by virtue of House Vendaai having been Notai. There were also people who thought that Breq would end up having a baby, sort of the sci-fi version of a baby-logue. I'm thankful Leckie did none of those things.
So yeah. Buddy Read complete. I'm sad that there are only two other stories set in this world.