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A Desolation Called Peace (Teixcalaan Book 2) Kindle Edition
Editors' pick: Readers of meaty sci-fi will love book two of this Hugo-winning series that finds a terrifying alien fleet on the empire’s doorstep."—Adrian Liang, Amazon Editor --This text refers to an alternate kindle_edition edition.
“A dizzying, exhilarating story of diplomacy, conspiracy, and first contact in the powerhouse sequel to [Martine's] Hugo Award–winning debut . . . This complex, stunning space opera promises to reshape the genre”―Publishers Weekly, starred review
“Martine weaves a dramatic and suspenseful story of political intrigue and alien first contact . . . each character is rendered in exquisite detail.”―Booklist, starred review
Praise for A Memory Called Empire
“A mesmerizing debut . . . it left me utterly dazzled.”―The New York Times Book Review
"[A] gorgeously crafted diplomatic space opera . . . Readers will eagerly away the planned sequels to this impressive debut."―Publishers Weekly, starred review
"Politics and personalities blend with an immersive setting and beautiful prose in a debut that weaves threads of identity, assimilation, technology, and culture to offer an exceedingly well-done sf political thriller."―Library Journal, starred review
"This is both an epic and a human story, successful in the mode of Ann Leckie and Yoon Ha Lee. A confident beginning with the promise of future installments that can't come quickly enough."―Kirkus, starred review
“Exquisite . . . a compelling journey with a rich world and fascinating characters”―The Los Angeles Times
"Interesting, detailed, lavish."―The Wall Street Journal
"A Memory Called Empire perfectly balances action and intrigue with matters of empire and identity. All around brilliant space opera, I absolutely love it."―Ann Leckie, author of Ancillary Justice
"In A Memory Called Empire, Arkady Martine smuggles you into her interstellar diplomatic pouch, and takes you on the most thrilling ride ever. This book has everything I love: identity crises, unlikely romance, complicated politics, and cunning adventurers. Super-fun, and ultra-fascinating."―Charlie Jane Anders, author of All the Birds in the Sky
“Stunning sci-fi debut. An ambassador from a small space station has to survive in the capital of a galactic empire where everyone seems to want her dead. Add in a great will-they-won’t-they wlw romantic interest. Awesome.”―Rick Riordan, author of the Percy Jackson series
“An elegant and accomplished example of the subgenre of subtle scheming with a background of stars. A delightful read. I couldn’t put it down.”―Jo Walton, Hugo and Nebula award-winning author of Among Others
“A taut murder mystery entwined with questions of technological ethics, A Memory Called Empire is also an evocative depiction of foreignness. Martine creates an elaborate and appealing culture against which to play out this story of political intrigue, assimilation, and resistance. Daring, beautiful, immersive, and often profound.”―Malka Older, author of Infomocracy
“A Memory Called Empire is a murder mystery wrapped up in a political space opera, and deeply immerses the reader in a unique culture and society. I very much enjoyed it and look forward to what Martine does next.”―Martha Wells, author of The Murderbot Diaries
"A cunningly plotted, richly imagined tale of interstellar intrigue that does something new with space opera."―Ken MacLeod
“A Memory Called Empire elevates space opera to poetry―clever, deep, sometimes tragic, sometimes violent, always transcendent poetry that shines like the edge of a knife.”―Delilah Dawson
“An intricate, layered tale of empire, personal ambition, political obligations and interstellar intrigue. Vivid and delightfully inventive.”―Aliette de Bodard, Nebula Award-winning author of the Xuya Universe stories and The House of Binding Thorns
“A cutting, beautiful, human adventure about cultural exchange, identity, and intrigue. The best SF novel I’ve read in the last five years.”―Yoon Ha Lee, author of the Machineries of Empire trilogy
“An exceptional first novel recommended for fans of Cherryh, Leckie, Banks, and Asimov.”―Elizabeth Bear, author of Hammered
"A Memory Called Empire . . . is so frigging good. It's like a space opera murder mystery combined with all the political parts of Dune."―Dan Wells, author of I Am Not a Serial Killer
- ASIN : B07QPJHNSM
- Publisher : Tor Books; 1st edition (March 2, 2021)
- Publication date : March 2, 2021
- Language : English
- File size : 4153 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 493 pages
- Page numbers source ISBN : 1529001625
- Lending : Not Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #10,311 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
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Top reviews from the United States
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* Nine Hibiscus is ranking officer, and smart: why does she let 16 Moonrise ramble around her ship? That's dumb, when 9 H has demonstrated ability to deal with insolent subordinates. This is annoying.
* 19 Adze is also smart, sophisticated, experienced: why does she say, "Go ahead, bomb the alien home planet to dust." without knowing anything, like, "Is it a major planet?" "What other horrific technology might the aliens have?" "Will we really piss them off?"
* Is he 8 Antidote or 8 Anecdote? Crybaby 11-year-old, or really precocious kid?
* Spending what feels like 20 pages of agonizing about what a barbarian is (or isn't) got really tedious. A culture as vast and old and sophisticated as Teixcalaan has got to have developed a better approach to barbarians.
* The discovery of the syrinx... does the information ever get transmitted to Mahit and 3 Seagrass? (Maybe I missed it; I was starting to skip pages).
* Mahit and 3 Seagrass having sex; did this really advance the plot?
So many intriguing ideas, so many missed opprtunities! // Written in haste and annoyance, without going back to look at the book again.
Read the dedication and the epigraphs. They help set the context for the story. The second epigraph explains the title (also, perhaps, the title of the previous book). It is the well-known quote attributed to Calgacus by Tacitus, "To ravage, to slaughter, to usurp under false titles—this they name empire; and where they make a desert, they call it peace." The Latin word here translated as "desert" is "solitudinem", which is Martine's title becomes "desolation".
The main characters of A Desolation Called Peace are Mahit Dzmare, Three Seagrass, and Eight Antidote. (That is a slight spoiler, because Three Seagrass doesn't become an important part of the story until 14% of the way through the book. Thus in the beginning I was left wondering if she would join us. She does!) Mahit and Three Seagrass were of course main characters of A Memory Called Empire. Eight Antidote, now Emperor Nineteen Adze's heir, was a minor character in the previous book, but becomes an important point-of-view character in this one.
The novel has an unusual structure. It is a multiple point-of-view story. The main POV characters are the three just named, but POV sometimes switches to minor characters. Now, multiple POV is not unusual in science fiction. I think I first noticed it in William Gibson's Cyberspace trilogy (but I'm sure he wasn't the first to use it -- he just made it conspicuous). In Gibson's books and many other works of science fiction, each chapter is told from the POV of one character, and the focus character rotates among several characters -- as many as five. This can be confusing, as the story may not be told in linear order. There may be a Rashomon-like effect of seeing the same events from different POVs.
In A Desolation Called Peace, narration switches among many characters, but not by chapter. Each chapter is divided into short sections, each section told from one POV. (It is possible that A Memory Called Empire also had this structure, and that I didn't notice it.) This sounds confusing, but it really isn't. In fact, by allowing Martine to tell her story in linear order, it makes it easier to follow a far-flung tale. Everything that happens in one chapter happens at (roughly) the same time. Generally Eight Antidote tells us of events in the Teixcalaanli capital while Three Seagrass and Mahit tell of us events out on the military front in space.
I have to speak of the story in generalities to avoid spoilers. It mixes far-flung space opera with deeply personal stories. For Mahit, especially, all choices are fraught because, as in the first book, the interests of Lsel station and Teixcalaan are not identical, nor is either's interests identical with hers.
Now, I do have one negative thing to say. Martine is not a scientist, and it shows. (I personally am a scientist, so I'm clearly more sensitive to this issue than most readers.) She doesn't understand physics or biology. Some of the things that happen are inconsistent with physics. I don't mind this so much. In most science fiction books the problems would have been acknowledged and papered over with bulls--t. The general SF assumption is that the technology exists to do whatever I, the author, deem necessary or desirable to move my plot. Martine just leaves out the BS, which is fine by me. The BS is more offensive than the bad physics, so I'm just as happy that Martine dispenses with it.
The biology problems bothered me a little more. Here is a quote, '“Is it a mammal?” Nine Hibiscus asked. She knew how to kill mammals. They had fairly standard physiologies. The heart, for example, was in the chest. “It’s not an insect or a reptile,” said the medtech. “Probably a mammal. A male-sexed one.” He gestured; Nine Hibiscus noted the penile sheath and nodded.' Now, in fact, it is extremely unlikely that an alien that evolved independently from life on Earth would be either a mammal, a reptile or an insect, or have a penis. In fact, even the words "male/female" might be meaningless. Even here on Earth, there are many organisms (animals, even) that are not male or female.
Biology is a historical science. What we see here on Earth is the result of a long process of evolution in which many chance events played decisive roles. It is as unlikely that aliens are mammals with hearts and d--ks as that they speak a language whose grammatical structure is identical to that of Latin (which Martine clearly knows is unlikely). I'm a little surprised Martine makes this error, since she is a historian.
That said, the matter plays no important role in the plot and was only a minor annoyance.
The prose is almost poetic in how well it flows. You are drawn in to it - hard to put down, fortunately there are story breaks often enough that you can.
Like the first book, it's slow to start and get into but this time I was ready for it and just savored the journey. It picks up just a little after A Memory Called Empire, with the same characters and the same main situation, the aliens on the edge of the empire, so you really have to read that first if you haven't already. There's a lot of linguistics in this hopefully first contact scenario, a lot of politics, and some extremely tense war situations. My only complaint is I wish it were longer or that we get a third book.
Top reviews from other countries
I reflected reading this that it is really difficult ro do something completely new in SF these days. All the old cultures of Earth have been mined for models, and innumerable novels and TV shows have explored the possible forms of space warfare and space soldiery. This novel doesn't contain anything wildly new. Hive minds? Check. Vast bureaucratic empires? Check. Loyal soldiers, impressive generals? Check. Wily politicians? Check. Subversive foreigners? Check. But what brings it together for me is the author's wonderful command of character and of language. Each of her characters is real, differentiated by everything from backstory to vocabulary, varied and interesting even if you hate them. The relationships between them are subtle and carefully explored. And her language is splendid, taking no prisoners. Personally, I enjoy a glossary at the back, and recognise that you can't always translate a word exactly - sometimes you need to use the original, even if it is in Aztec.
So, just as enjoyable as the first one, slow to start but really picking up the pace as it goes along, satisfactorily resolved with the possibility of more to come... I LIIKE this book.
A minor moan, which applies to this and other current authors, is the use of contemporary swear-words in contexts supposed to be elsewhere and elsewhen. The willing suspension of disbelief becomes more difficult and nothing is added to narrative or character. I'm not 'offended', just irritated. Drop it. Invent new words, if you must, but leave the f-bomb at home.
While the previous novel had some pace and verve, this one by comparison is flat and lifeless and limps along apologetically, and I am wholly disappointed so far by its lack of bite. It's very retrospective, harking back frequently to events in the first novel, revisiting its former glory, but failing to recreate it.
I'm not yet finished but I'm not sure I will, not unless there is something to get enthusiastic enough about to make it worth while. I read in hope but hope is fading.
The opening of Desolation was lyrical and came from a completely unexpected direction, I think this opening helps the reader look at the universe of Teixcalaan slightly differently from the very beginning.
The themes of belonging, identity, home carry over from memory and develop further in various ominous and threatening contexts, for example the possibility of resolving a first contact scenario with a planetary nuclear holocaust.
Although the narrative reached a conclusion I was very much left wanting to hear more stories about this imagined universe and the characters who inhabit it.