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The Will to Battle

(Terra Ignota #3)

4.24  ·  Rating details ·  2,071 ratings  ·  249 reviews
A political SF epic of extraordinary audacity.

The long years of near-utopia have come to an abrupt end.

Peace and order are now figments of the past. Corruption, deception, and insurgency hum within the once steadfast leadership of the Hives, nations without fixed location.

The heartbreaking truth is that for decades, even centuries, the leaders of the great Hives bought the
Hardcover, 368 pages
Published December 19th 2017 by Tor Books
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Jo Walton There were always intended to be four books, which fall into two pairs, TLTL and 7S, then The Will to Battle and Perhaps the Stars. The series will…moreThere were always intended to be four books, which fall into two pairs, TLTL and 7S, then The Will to Battle and Perhaps the Stars. The series will then be complete at four volumes. Ada is working on Perhaps the Stars now, and I can't wait to read it.(less)
Jo Walton The publication date isn't set at all yet. The book isn't finished, and books normally take about a year from being finished to go through the…moreThe publication date isn't set at all yet. The book isn't finished, and books normally take about a year from being finished to go through the process, so 2020 is probably the earliest plausible date from this pojnt, possibly very late in 2019.

(Incidentally, I am answering these questions to save Ada precious writing minutes so the book will be with us all very slightly sooner!)(less)

Community Reviews

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Average rating 4.24  · 
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 ·  2,071 ratings  ·  249 reviews

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Update, later the same day:
I think I'm gonna nominate this one for Hugo. It keeps getting better on reflection. :)

Original Review:

I took my time and savored this one. It deserves it. And more.

Ada Palmer has made a world worth luxuriating in, and far from resting on the Greek laurels she and her work deserve, she's delved deep into new philosophical questions while all the time fascinating us with complicated and rich characters. Never even mind the glorious world-building. The amount of thought
Jo Walton
Dec 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing
It made me hyperventilate on a train. This series just gets better and better.
Sherwood Smith
Dec 20, 2017 added it
Shelves: fantasy, sf
I’ve been thinking about how to review this book for a couple of days, and have come to the conclusion that I can’t review its events without massive spoilers, and even then, those won’t convey the impact to someone who hasn’t read the two previous books.

So I’m going to talk about it by talking around it.

In the last few days, it so happens that I’ve been either watching or reading stories that focus on the problems of power and human nature. The fuzziest of these stories was my viewing of The
Jul 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sci-fi
Ockham Prospero Saneer pleads Terra Ignota, I did the deed, but I do not myself know whether it was a crime. This sets the tone for the entire book.

I know there are at least a few of you interested in this book and whether or not the end feels like we've only been given half a book. I'm happy to report that this does not feel like half a book. The wait for Perhaps the Stars will still be long and torturous, but I intend to fill that time with back to back re-reads prior to release.

These books
Jan 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
Author: Welcome back, dear reader! Did you return for the consistent brilliance that my cast has been putting out in their every performance?
Me: Not necessarily…I’ve got a nagging question that won’t let me quit this play.
Author (asks with keenness and curiosity): What is it?
Me: How is Mycroft Canner not severely dehydrated by now? I mean…the guy has been sobbing non-stop for the previous acts and I doubt he’s getting enough water on his Servicer’s diet. It’s…it’s been bothering me for months!
Bjørnar Tuftin
This is a magnificent series! It has glorious prose, spectacular world-building, amazing intrigue and ... It's so good that I feel bad for not liking it. But fact is just don't. Yes, it's glorious and intricate and imaginative, to me this book was still a slog.
I'm not even sure what kept me going. Pure stubbornness and five-nines record of finishing books? (Not actually true, it's two nines and a smidgen.) A hope that it would eventually be worth it?
It definitely wasn't a desire to know what
Feb 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
Ada Palmer has the skills to pay the bills, and with her new book she's packing a full clip, has a 455 under the hood and a full tank of high-octane racing fuel.

This is the third book in the Terra Ignota trilogy, and damn, it’s good! Palmer keeps the tension running at eye-watering pace, the politics, bad blood and crimes of the previous two novels coming together in a story that has the intricacy of a Swiss watch.

Mycroft Canner, Servicer, one-time sadistic multiple murderer and now servant to
Feb 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
every aspect of this book is so incredibly brilliant and i'm going to go positively mad waiting for the next!!
3.5 stars this time, but rounded up per usual for Ada Palmer’s sheer ambition.

So, it turns out that waiting over a year between these books is a terrible idea! I’d forgotten who did what, why (BLANKITY BLANK) was in prison, and what were the latest double-triple-crossings, etc. I’d lost my momentum a bit, so with its usual dense politics and philosophy, it took me so long to read despite being only ~350 pages. I think this could have been shorter and tightened up; I’m putting it under ‘second
Sep 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, scifi, utopia
It’s fair to say that the Terra Ignota series continues to be demanding and rewarding. Mycroft the narrator, a convicted murderer, is writing a chronicle of events in 2454 in the style of the Enlightenment, while holding down eight jobs and suffering a psychological breakdown. The narrative is punctuated by commentary from Thomas Hobbes and a personification of the book’s readership. At times Hobbes can be tiresome, but Palmer otherwise pulls off an astonishingly complex, intellectually ...more
Jan 11, 2018 rated it liked it
After the constitutive excellent of the first two of the series, I felt this novel falls a little flat. While in the previous iterations, the plot has felt honed and in a momentous direction, here the story seems to meander around, with only occasional larger events stitching it all together. While Lightning had the Ockham-Saneer bash, and Surrenders had Madame's, the global scope of this book overwhelms when it is thrust upon the reader every chapter, instead of breaking up otherwise familiar ...more
Aug 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The first book in the Terra Ignota series, Too Like the Lightning, was magnificent. It left me deliciously bewildered at every turn, with revelation after revelation illuminating new aspects of the world to me, turning my assumptions on their heads with no warning. This being the third installment in the series, the world is now mostly laid out before the reader, but there are still shattering revelations to be had. Before beginning, I was concerned that my expectations for The Will to Battle ...more
Aisha Mayken
Jan 15, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2018-reads
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Chris Starr
Jan 15, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Something keeps me reading this series despite the absolutely annoying writing style. the world that is created in this series is intriguing, and I am interested in it. However, the way it is presented through an egotistical narrator, or "chronicler", is annoying as hell and makes it very painful at times to read.
Another good read, but compared to the previous two this one FELT longer. Maybe because of the endless court proceedings and descriptions of god knows how many philosophers.

Usually I enjoy books that speak about the law and politics in detail but this book was FILLED with it and it pretty much stretched me out.

Still really looking forward to the next book (which is the last one, I think) because of that ending.
keikii Eats Books
Sep 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
To read more reviews like this, check out my blog keikii eats books!

90 points, 4 stars.

“Hubris it is, reader, to call one’s self the most anything in history: the most powerful, the most mistreated, the most alone.”

I'm going to try and avoid spoilers for the previous two books as much as I can.

The Will to Battle is a quieter kind of mindblowing than Seven Surrenders. It actually follows a few months after the ending of the last book and a lot has happened. The world is in a
Jan 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This continues to be a series that is obviously brilliant whether I understand it or not (and I often don't). How could I not love a book where the reader is enlisted into a dialogue with Thomas Hobbes in the 25th century?

I loved the world building and the historical consciousness introduced in the first book. I enjoyed delving further into the world and deeper thoughts about gender in the second book. And in neither book did I entirely follow the plot. Sure, I got the basic idea of the overall
Feb 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
I haven't been able to shut up about these books to literally everyone who knows me.

And now they're over.... for now.

HMB while I go start Too Like the Lightning again.
Mar 30, 2018 rated it did not like it
Shelves: abandoned
In Too Like The Lightning, Palmer created a unique & engaging world that I often keep thinking about. Seven Surrenders brought in some more philosophy and solved the mystery around Mycroft's crimes. I consider these books two halves that make up the first book in the series and it was great.

I struggled mightily with The Will To Battle, however. After 150 pages, I gave up. Palmer seems to have abandoned most of that rich world and it read more like a history/philosophy dissertation with
Tzu-Mainn Chen
Feb 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
"Terra Ignota" is a series best enjoyed once you accept the fact that there's no way in hell you can anticipate what's going to happen. Palmer slaps you in the face with grandeurs and philosophies and absurdities, until the sheer thickness and spread of ideas turns her novels into something abstract and surreal.

This isn't a criticism. Once I stopped trying to unravel labyrinthine plot threads, I enjoyed her books far more. It was with this mindset that I read "Will to Battle", and I enjoyed this
More like a 2.5 but really, I'm not adding a full star on for 10% of a book

How long ago Too Like the Lightning seems. How much I loved that book, how much I wanted to get stuck right into the story. How little I trusted Mycroft Canner to tell an impartial story, how much I trusted Ada Palmer to stick a landing. How completely caught up I was into the world-building, how diverse and interesting everything felt. How much The Will to Battle disappointed me.

After the explosive events and reveals
Sep 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
When you absolutely positively most sincerely need to have a war but you haven't had one in ages and you've been maintaining your peaceful utopia with a secret system of selected murderings rather than through the exercise of military strength and you don't even have nation states any more, you can't just go rushing in, you need your emperors and kings and psychopaths and corrupt officials and ideologues and messianic figureheads and rogue assassins and ressurected classical warriors to sort ...more
for me the intricate plot lines and extraordinary imagination throughout were completely overshadowed by the vague, stylised characters and the overly baroque language

style completely overwhelmed content

certainly there were intriguing sections, but much of it I longed to skip to the point

conclusion of futuristic society structured into competing hives is collapsing under the weight of the covert murders necessary to keep it alive and the emergence of a deity figure (never really developed for
Paul  Perry
The third instalment of Palmer's Terra Ignota series continues to be just as wonderful - dense, clever, humane and gripping. I can't wait for book four.
Sensational. Palmer starts in an Enlightenment utopia (post-war, post-nationalism, post-scarcity, post-gender, post-theocracy, post-fideism, post-meat, post-capital-punishment, post-nuclear-family, general justice via universal voluntary surveillance) and then shows what the tensions will do to any system that has to handle humans as we are.

Many riches. There are constantly five or so subplots on the go, and when one ends it spawns two others. Best are its careful sketches of deep divides:
Me: I finished
Me: I can't really keysmash on a phone, so you'll just have to imagine it
Boyfriend: Heheh
Boyfriend: Cliffhanger for book 4?
Me: I don't think cliffhanger is the right word
Me: More, I am now lying in a smashed and broken heap at the base of the cliff

Or, wait, I'm at a real keyboard now: uygehkflishgruieosyht78awy3 WHAT DID I JUST READ?

I have so many questions right now (including, notably, about population demographics: cross-referencing some numbers mentioned here with numbers from
Maya Chhabra
Mar 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Reviewed at my blog here:

Ada Palmer’s fiction gets a lot of attention for its voice and ideas, but I think her greatest strength is actually characterization. The Will to Battle features a large ensemble cast and somehow manages to give all the characters devastating and/or moving moments. Structure-wise it’s a bit off (suddenly a lot of things happen in the last quarter that are not resolved) and the engagement with Hobbes simply doesn’t work, but what
Aug 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sf, quiltbag
Mind. Blown.


These books are not like anything else out there, and reading them is a ride and a half - the ultimate unreliable narrator, world-shaking events, twists and turns and meta-narrative (the book itself is an important plot point in the book and also the unreliable narrator is currently authoring the preceding volumes and. Yeah. It's a LOT.

It's the kind of rare book where reading it becomes more real than reality - seeping into my dreams, making my sleep restless with premonitions
Jan 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The scope, imagination, complexity, and beauty of Ada Palmer's writing continues to blow my mind. There are no other books like these books. I have no coherent review to articulate here, other than to say everyone should read the Terra Ignota series and that I am desperately excited for the release of the final volume.
Nick Imrie
Terra Ignota is such a glorious sprawl of a story that I have a tough time knowing what on earth I can say about it. It's bewildering - made more so by narrator Mycroft Canner's descend into madness. If he wasn't unreliable enough as a narrator, now we can't even be sure who he's speaking to! Bring on 9A!
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Other books in the series

Terra Ignota (4 books)
  • Too Like the Lightning (Terra Ignota, #1)
  • Seven Surrenders (Terra Ignota, #2)
  • Perhaps the Stars (Terra Ignota, #4)
“As Machiavelli observed, Rome showed, tyrant after tyrant, how those reared in palatine luxury, expecting to be master of the world, basely abused the godlike authority that fell to them unearned, while those promoted through merit—Hadrian, Antoninus Pius, Marcus Aurelius—made judicious use of the Imperium of which they considered themselves, not owners, but custodians. It is not power that corrupts, but the belief that it is yours.” 3 likes
“Complacency is the enemy, Mycroft, not xenophobia. An old phoenix needs burning” 1 likes
More quotes…