Cover Image: A Desolation Called Peace

A Desolation Called Peace

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Woah! What I can tell you about this one without giving away the goose? 
It’s immensely good fun 🤩 I was hooked almost instantly and I loved the unique and diverse characters. It was a pleasure to read! 
I loved that it had such wonderful LGBTQA rep and saw myself greatly in the characters. A real treat!
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The sequel to Martine’s Hugo-winning astropolitical space opera A Memory Called Empire expands its scope to a reckoning between empires, as the conquering Teixcalaanli negotiate with an encroaching inhuman threat. Between the two interstellar powers are independent ambassador Mahit Dzmare and Teixcalaan cultural liaison Three Seagrass—along with plenty of new characters—who will need more than poetry to save Teixcalaan’s legacy.

I don't always go in for first contact stories, but Martine has written the best take I've seen since Arrival/Story of Your Life. As in Ted Chiang's story and its film adaptation, the aliens of Desolation at first seem so anathema to the humans encountering them that it should be impossible to establish any sort of common ground--to wit, Mahit and Three Seagrass cannot stop vomiting upon hearing the aliens' skin-crawling sounds. It's such a great visceral detail that brilliantly sets up the stakes--sure, interplanetary war threatens if these two sides remain at cross-purposes, but how can they engage in diplomacy if it literally turns their stomachs?

While Desolation hinges on this big plot, the book also fans out into a many-pointed star of character portraits that manage to both slow down the action in each case while still contributing to the larger urgent plot. Readers get to explore the perspectives of beloved (if polarizing) ship captain Nine Hibiscus, her trusted adjutant Twenty Cicada (including a brief glimpse into how his culture was consumed by Teixcalaan), new Emperor Nineteen Adze and child heir Eight Antidote... and, yes, both a delightful spin through Three Seagrass' furiously ambitious mind and a welcome return to Mahit and Yskandr's fractured dynamic--which looks to be creating more friction, not less, than in Memory.

A Memory Called Empire could have been a perfect standalone, but that Martine has put so much care into expanding Teixcalaan's universe in such a satisfying and complex way is truly a gift.
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Such immersive writing, such an Intensely interesting universe, and such Unique and Real characters that I feel as though I've met these people and I love them, even the slightly maybe-evil ones. The first book in this series really blew me away. As a follow-up book, this is really good. Not as amazing as the 1st one, but it's the same beloved characters and I ate it up without hesitation. It certainly kept me turning the pages, although it didn't have the same "murder mystery, trapped in a house with a monster" feel to it. There wasn't as much tension, but then how can you beat the ending of the first book?
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This is the sequel to one of my favorite books of last year. This one was a bit less enjoyable than the first. There was the addition of other perspectives, the child-clone, the general, 3 Seagrass, and more. I didn't hate that so much, but with the difficulties with the names of these folks, it took a while to remember who was who. Also, the big bad was supposed to be these aliens, but for whatever reason, they weren't? 

I do still love Mahit so very much, as well as 3 Seagrass. I am excited to see where it goes, especially with the addition of these new characters.
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** spoiler alert ** I loved the world of Teixcalaan, with all its poetry and political brutality. With the second book in the series, I was at first disappointed that we were spending most of our time out in space on Weight for the Wheel and Nine Hibiscus. But the pace quickly picked up once we began encountering the unknowable enemy, and we reconnect with Mahit Dzmare and Three Seagrass. Their complicated relationship soon takes center stage, even though they share their POVs with Eight Antidote, the Emperor-To-Be who is trying to figure out what kind of leader he wants to become - even when it flies in the face of his teachers and mentors.

Cool aliens
Intel into the Shard pilots and Sunlit
Sexy times

Not my favorite:
I always want more Yskandr
The discovery amount what makes the aliens tick comes SO LATE in the story, and I would have liked to explore that more
Too much time spend on Stationer politics that didn't really go anywhere (in this book at least)

Overall, a good successor to A Memory Called Empire, and I'm excited to see how the trilogy ends!
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I made the mistake of waiting over a year after “A Memory Called Empire” was published before reading it. Not this time! The second I saw the sequel pop up on Edelweiss I requested it. And then I had to diligently wait to read it so that I could cover more recent books in a timely fashion. That took some self-control, let me tell you. But the time finally came, and the payoff was definitely worth it! I think I may have enjoyed this book even more than the first.

The war that Mahit started to save her station has begun. Back home at Lsel Station, however, she thinks her part in this story is over, even with the reminder of what she’s done flying past in the form of Teixcalaan war ships. But soon enough, she’s called back into action. Three Seagrass arrives with a request: join her in making first contact with these strange aliens. With no coherent language and the mysterious ability to appear suddenly, these creatures are nothing like the Teixcalaan Empire has faced before. Maybe a barbarian is the only one who will understand them?

In the way of good second novels, “A Desolation Called Peace” is bigger than “A Memory Called Empire” in pretty much every way. Not only does the story expand outwards from the single city/planet that it was localize within in the first book, but the narrative itself expands to encompass not only Mahit’s storyline, but also Three Seagrass’s and several other new (and familiar) characters. These efforts to broaden the scope of the story result in an expansion that feels leaps and bounds ahead of the first book. And this is particularly impressive given how detailed and precise the world-building was there, already.

The culture, language, history, etc., of Teixcalaan felt fully realized in all of the little ways one doesn’t think about but that stand-out when you really step back to appreciate an author’s work. From its emphasis on poetry and literature in its speech and protocol, to the cloudhook technology that seems a natural extension from where our own smartphones are headed. And here, Martine takes that strong foundation, and blows it up to add not only a more detailed look at Mahit’s home, Lsel Station, but adds in an entire new species/culture of the aliens our main characters are interacting with. All while still exploring the ins and outs of the Empire itself, with a closer look at the different religions within it and at the inner workings (both technological and political) of Teixcalaan’s powerful military. Frankly, it’s incredible.

The expansion of character POVs was also really impactful. I loved Mahit in the first book, but in this one, she was probably the least interesting character. Now, don’t read that wrong! I still loved her and her arc, it’s more to say that the additional characters were just that interesting that the more familiar Mahit faded a bit into the background in comparison. I particularly enjoyed getting to see into Three Seagrass’s mind. She was a huge character in the first book, so getting to see finally through her eyes was amazing. Beyond her own interesting story, I was particularly impressed by the duel views that Mahit and Three Seagrass brought to similar issues. Three Seagrass is clearly not a malicious character, but being in her head was a great opportunity to witness a character recognizing and confronting their own privilege and biases.

Beyond Three Seagrass, we also had chapters from the leader of the military front, a powerful, female general, and from Three Antidote, the young partial clone of the previous emperor who we met in the first book. I won’t go into much regarding either of their stories as there are some spoilers there, but, needless to say at this point, I really loved them both. Perhaps, particularly, Three Antidote’s chapters were impressive for how well they capture the thinking of a young boy approaching maturity but still a child at heart. With all the complicated, fleshed out adults, it can be hard to write a compelling child character alongside them, but Martine perfectly captured the thinking and actions of a kid in Three Antidote’s unique position. Again, incredible.

I also really loved the twisty way the story unfurled, with pieces that you didn’t even realize were pieces falling together in the end to resolve many mysteries all at once and illuminate themes you thought were only brought up as passing anecdotes. This review is already long, but if I let myself, I could probably go on and on. Fans of the first book are sure to love this one, too, and any sci-fi reader who hasn’t jumped on board this train, really needs to!

Rating 10: A masterpiece of a space opera! All the more impressive for expanding so effortlessly from the highs of the first novel.
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A Desolation Called Peace is a really phenomenal sequel to an exceptionally good SFF debut. Desolation opens up the world shown in A Memory Called Empire by expanding the POV to multiple characters on different sides of the conflict that formed Memory's cliffhanger. Mahit's role as primary protagonist is reduced and her story becomes one thread in a larger conflict. With Desolation, as with Memory, the concept of "good" and "evil" is irrelevant outside of individual choices—there is a lot to be said about the evils of imperialism, but Arkady Martine is more concerned about how longstanding conflict and insider-outsider mentalities are complicated by the pressures of time, tradition, and the decisions made by the powerful, whether that power derives from an imperial throne that oversees an vast system of colonies or a councilor's seat on a lone space station. The alien threat that disrupts and further complicates the political maneuverings of our various POV characters is particularly fascinating—I won't spoil it—and adds an extra bit of ethical complexity to an already tangled web. I suppose the only minor complaint I have is that it isn't twice as long—and at around 500 pages that's saying something.
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After loving "A Memory Called Empire" I was so thrilled to be reading it's sequel "A Desolation Called Peace".  There were so many questions I had at the end of book one, and I wanted to be back with the characters I loved.

Unfortunately book two did something that drives me insane.  Book one was a single story POV where we followed Mahit as she was an emissary on a foreign planet, completely alone and struggling to survive, all while trying to solve the mysterious death of the man who held the position before her. Book two opens as a multi-POV book (I know this is personal taste but I hate when series do this) and we are following characters I have no connection to, nor do I care about.  Along with that the world opened up from a murder mystery royal espionage to actual worlds at war.  What I am trying to say is the tone shift was so much between book one and two that I could not enjoy myself reading book two at all.

Thank you to Netgalley and the Publisher for giving me a free arc in exchange for an honest review.
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An alien armada is lurking at the edges of civilized space, threatening both the Teixcalaan Empire and Lsel Station. No one is able to communicate with the alien force and when a planet is completely annihilated by it, the Empire sends one of its best soldiers, Fleet Captain Nine Hibiscus to defend the borders of Teixcalaan. Three Seagrass and Mahit Dzamare again find themselves in the heart of the action and they might be the only ones capable of preventing a war that could destroy the Empire and lead to the death of billions. After all, who’s more suited to negotiate a peace treaty with aliens than a barbarian and a spy?

I read A Memory Called Empire last year and I enjoyed it quite a bit so I was very excited to read the sequel and, A Desolation Called Peace didn’t disappoint. Martine successfully managed to expand the scope of the story and create new fascinating challenges for our characters.

The introduction of new point of views such as Three Seagrass’s, Eight Antidote’s and Nine Hibiscus’s was a very interesting narration choice. It allowed the action to take place both inside and outside the borders of Teixcalaan. I especially liked the parts set on Lsel Station since I wanted to learn more about it after reading first book. I was especially curious to discover Lsel Station outside of Mahit’s biased perception of her home station. In A Desolation, we discover Lsel Station not solely as something barbarian and opposed to Teixcalaan but as its own world with its own culture and history trying to survive and remain independent from the all too powerful Teixcalaan.

The addition of the new point of views was also a great way to paint a broader picture of the world. I particularly enjoyed both the point of view of Eight Antidote, heir apparent to the Empire, and of Captain Nine Hibiscus, Fleet Captain in charge of protecting the Empire against the alien threat. The only perspective that left me a bit underwhelmed was the added point of view of Three Seagrass. Indeed, as much as she was a fantastic side character in the first book, I actually enjoyed her character more when I wasn’t in her head. In A Desolation, she makes several rash decisions that made me care for her less than in the first book. However, I still enjoyed her relationship with Mahit and especially how it allowed the author to bring up interesting points about power dynamic in interracial relationships.

While A Desolation and A Memory have their differences, I can’t say I enjoyed one more than the the other. I liked the slower pace of the first book but I very much enjoyed how Martine expanded the scope of the story in the second book while still addressing the themes of colonization, memory and interconnected identities.

I am definitely looking forward to reading other stories set in the world. Even if A Desolation ended in a satisfying way, Martine left enough loose-threads hanging to write a few more stories set in the world of Teixcalaan and I definitely need more Eight Antidote in my life! 😉

If you liked A Memory Called Empire then you should definitely give A Desoaltion Called Peace a try.

Rating: 4 out of 5.
I received a copy of this book through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. My thanks to Tor and Netgalley for providing me with a review copy.
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Arkady Martine’s novel, A Memory Called Empire, was a stunning debut, offering up a richly imagined world and digging into themes of identity and colonialism with sensitivity and nuance. A Desolation Called Peace meets the high bar set by its predecessor, developing the world and existing relationships with the same eye for nuance, as well as breaking new ground.

Having rescued Lsel Station from the threat of the Teixcalaan Empire (at least for the time being), Ambassador Mahit Dzmare returns home to find she’s in even more hot water there. Fortunately, she’s saved (again, at least for the time being) by the wheels that she set in motion. The new Emperor has sent out a fleet to investigate Mahit’s report of a ravenous alien race not far from Lsel Station. When the fleet captain puts out a call for a diplomat and linguist to make first contact, Three Seagrass answers, collecting Mahit along the way.

There is so much to be delighted by in this book. I was thrilled to have Mahit and Three Seagrass reunited and particularly by the difficulties of their relationship. The story acknowledges the way these characters haven’t known each other for very long and most of that time involved intense events. While in some ways they know each other intimately, in others they don’t know each other at all. This tension permeates their interactions. It is equalised somewhat by Three Seagrass stepping out of her comfort zone and leaving the Jewel of the World, the capital of Teixcalaan. But on board a Teixcalaan vessel, she’s still in Empire territory and the balance of power between these characters remains very unequal. While Mahit is still officially the Ambassador of Lsel Station, there is no call for her to act in that capacity and the military only suffer her presence because she is there at the behest of Special Envoy Three Seagrass. As a non-citizen, Mahit is not entitled to wear the eyehooks so ubiquitous to the Empire. If Three Seagrass storms off in a huff, Mahit is left unable to navigate the ship or even do something as simple as open a door, leaving her literally lost and helpless. Although Mahit and Three Seagrass have missed each other during their time apart, this has not magically erased the colonialist tensions in their relationship.

We also get some new perspective characters. The Fleet Captain Nine Hibiscus enables the reader to get a good grasp of the military situation — not only of the conflict with the aliens, but also of the schisms within the fleet. After all, what is the Empire without politics? However, the author is also savvy enough to give Nine Hibiscus her own emotional stakes. The deliciously understated relationship between the Fleet Captain and her second-in-command subtly echoes some of the dynamics of the relationship between Three Seagrass and Mahit, while also highlighting some differences. Nine Hibiscus and Three Seagrass embody idealised types of Teixcalaans: the war general and the poet. In contrast, Mahit and Twenty Cicada are outsiders, with Twenty Cicada practicing a minority religion and Mahit being a non-citizen. The difference is that despite Twenty Cicada’s otherness, he remains part of the Empire. He is a strange Teixcalaan, but he’s still a Teixcalaan. Thus, he is permitted to wear an eyehook, serve in the military, and make himself an ubiquitous and useful presence in a way that Mahit never can. His decades long, apparently non-sexual relationship with Nine Hibiscus also provides a strong contrast to the central relationship.

Another significant and new perspective character is the Imperial Heir Eight Antidote. He was introduced in the previous book as the clone of Emperor Six Direction. Now approaching his teens, he takes his place on the Empire’s stage. And, as I said before, what is the Empire without politics? Eight Antidote finds himself being manipulated and begins to learn the art of manipulation in turn. He’s a surprisingly sweet character, with an earnestness that’s endearing and makes an excellent foil to his intelligence. It’s unclear at this stage whether there will be any further books in this series (I’ve got my fingers crossed), but if there is, including Eight Antidote in this book is a brilliant stroke. Seeing him as a perspective character when he’s so relatively innocent has made me feel attached to him, reinforcing an emotional connection to the Empire he will one day inherit.

And lastly, we get to the aliens themselves. Parts of the book put me in mind of the movie Arrival. It is, after all, a first contact story with truly alien aliens, creatures who communicate in such a different way to humans but who undeniably communicate. And there’s a time pressure from the military to get things figured out before they come in with guns blazing. This association also amuses me, since Teixcaan itself is a culture of references, with a literary quote for all occasions.

The exact nature of the aliens brought to mind many other (largely recent) texts, which shall remain nameless for the time being to avoid spoilers. This disappointed me at first, since it is becoming well-trodden ground (if it isn’t already so). However, the ending brought a new approach that was satisfyingly original.

While I could go on (and already have at length without even touching on the secrets or space cats), suffice it to say A Desolation Called Peace is an intelligent, engaging book that does a fantastic job of building on what came before. I can only hope there’s more to come.
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In the follow-up to her stunning debut, Arkady Martine throws us back into the Teixcalaan Empire in her latest book, A Desolation Called Peace.

Mahit Dzmare is back on Lsel Station, trying to adjust to having two imagos in her head while coming to terms with the fact that one of the Councillors is likely trying to kill her. She’s also still dealing with the trauma from the political upheaval of her last post where she barely survived. But on the edge of the Empire, near Lsel Station, a deadly alien armada is discovered.

Fleet Captain Nine Hibiscus is facing not just this mysterious armada but insubordination among her ranks. With no way to communicate with this new species, she sends a peculiar request for a diplomatic envoy. Which Three Seagrass gladly answers, with one stipulation: that she is able to work with Mahit once more.

Reunited on a warship and facing an alien being that communicates far differently than anything they’ve ever encountered; they learn that one wrong move and the alien fleet with attack. And likely win. The fate of Teixcalaan is in their hands.

A Memory Called Empire was a stunning debut. The story was so immersive and imaginative that ended on a bittersweet yet satisfying note that made readers yearn for more. They got everything they hoped for and more in A Desolation Called Peace.

There are many similarities in structure between the two books. Martine has expanded the scope of the world, giving us a broader understanding of the Teixcalaan Empire through location and character perspective with four difference narratives, Mahit, Three Seagrass, Nine Hibiscus, and the Emperor’s young clone, Eight Antidote.

The format remains the same, with snippets of interplanetary communications, news reports, diary entries, and so on at the beginning of each chapter. All hinting at what we can expect and yet, elusive and slippery in exactly the way politics are, even in this expanded galactic future. We also still get the interludes, offering glimpses into other characters and situations building in the background that threaten to dismantle everything the characters are working toward. It’s a masterclass in tension, presenting storylines that weave closer and closer until the threads meet in the last third of the book. The result is complex and layered, but easy to follow as we are allowed to understand each thread on their own before they’re brought together.

Where A Memory Called Empire was mainly in the center of the Teixcalaan Empire, A Desolation Called Peace is set in multiple locations. We are back in the heart of the Empire, but we also get to see the inner workings of Lsel Station, a glimpse at an outpost planet, and the tense setting of a warship on the front lines of a budding war. Within each narrative, the themes of empire, culture, and language are explored, and while those were present in the first book, here they are given new perspectives with larger consequences. The implication of immersed technology is raised in much greater detail. It’s a clever juxtaposition between connective neurotechnology and a hive mind, and the cascade of similarities and differences that unfold within the story are stunning and brilliant.

These themes are consistent throughout both books, and are threaded into each character, giving us different viewpoints and raising different questions. The characters struggle in various ways with identity and belonging. None of them fit entirely or wholly in the Empire they love, and yet they’re still uncertain. The dynamics between this uncertainty clashes when we throw in gigantic, potential world devastation level consequences into the mix, with an added layer of political machinations driven by questionable morals. Choices have consequences, from decisions made individually to orders that could annihilate a species. Nothing is clear, though, as we find in current reality. Answers have both good and bad repercussions, making it difficult to know definitively which route is right. And while these questions and conflicts have an uncomfortable resemblance to the ones we face today, it only highlights how difficult they really are.

Martine’s writing is impressive on every level. She has created not just characters with an endless depth of emotion and nuance, but warring factions within a bloated government that mirror our most complex governments today. It’s a testament to her skill as a writer that she has created a world so different in so many ways, but it is still understandable and recognisable in all the ways that matter. Every detail is stunning, creative, and vivid, and the plot is accessible and compulsive.

While it’s possible to read and likely even understand the plot and world without reading A Memory Called Empire, it’s not something I would recommend. Martine has a way of making expansive plots easy to follow along, but there will be texture, details, and nuance missed. Will it ruin the experience? Maybe not. Martine herself has indicated that this is a universe, after all, not simply a series. But reading them out of order will change the experience at the very least, and this is a world where science fiction readers will want the best possible experience.

A Desolation Called Peace is a smart and devious book, where plot twists take us in unexpected directions and clues are planted so subtly, they promise to be a delight when rereading. And that’s a guarantee for anyone who loved the first book. This is a series fans will want to read again and again, finding new clues and hints each time. It reads like a classic sci-fi novel with the prose of a literary masterpiece. It’s a series that spans galaxies, but the system is both thrust into the future but is also plucked from the past. The characters struggle with fundamental human truths that have plagued us since our evolution. It’s rich, expansive, and immersive, and will appeal to a wide range of science fiction and literary fans.
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A compelling and engrossing narrative, A Desolation Called Peace is an outstanding space opera and character study. Highly recommended for fans of the genre and newcomers to science fiction alike.
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Lingustics in Space

This is the second book in the Teixcalaan series, with A Memory Called Peace as Book One. Though I don’t attempt to include spoilers, I’ll just leave a general SPOILER ALERT for Book ONE.

How wide, after all, could the concept of “you” stretch?


Book two is a great expansion of Book One – more space, more culture, more philosophy. And also more characters and plot. If you at all liked A Memory Called Peace, you most certainly won’t be disappointed.

World Building

We get to see more of the world in book two, and I liked it. Liked it very much!

We see more of Lsel Station and of the outskirts of the Empire with the flagship Wheight for the Wheel and whatever looms behind that in the darkness of space.

I liked the idea of the City in Book One, but because we barely saw any space action, it didn’t feel like a proper Sci Fi to me – more like Urban Sci Fi (I just made that up, I don’t know, if anyone uses that term. Probably not.) In Book Two however we see finally some space action, and things don’t look good for humans (and barbarians).

I loved, that we saw some other cultures outside and inside the Empire, another shortcoming of Book One and its limitations of the City in my opinion. And we even got some space kittens 😀

All in all, this was a great expansion, that I wish had found its way into Book One. There is much more to see.

We also get more history of the Teixcalaan Empire and its ever growing borders.

We didn’t get so much of the bureaucratic system and see more than ministers insulting one another subtly with ancient poetry. Which again, is a plus in my opinion.

As in book one, I could see, that Martine tried to convey a lot with linguistics. And I like the idea of it and there are some great ideas here, but I feel her writing actually can’t transport the language she is telling about. Which is maybe fair enough, since it’s obviously written in English, not Teixcalaan.

I still think the Teixcalaan naming system is brilliant and the pet names they give each other melt my heart. (And it makes you think about what your name would be – mine would be Five Thistle, which coincidentally is a side character in Book Two… which is fitting, since I’d most likely be a side character in a space war :D…)

There are also great ideas throughout the whole book about individualism, society, collective memory and thought. Very smart, and greatly interwoven with the world and plot.


We see more characters in book two! And I love two of them to death (the yaotlek and Swarm are my new favorite dream team. Those two brought me to tears…)

As I didn’t feel connected to Mahit and most of the other characters in Book One, more characters gave me more opportunities to like anyone. Martine still has a way of keeping her characters at a distance, that I don’t particularly like, but at least we got to see more personalities this time.

I also didn’t expect her sapphic relationship to be this… hot? That was one of the instances in this book, that definitely evoked a lot of emotion for the characters and not just interest in plot or world building for me.

I still don’t really feel anything for Mahit and Three Seagrass as some of the main characters, but it was more than I got in Book One.


Shit is happening. We have an alien thread, that might be stronger than the empire, we have military mutiny, we have bureaucratic shenanigans and some petty counselors.

It’s great. Go read it.
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A Desolation Called Peace is the sequel to A Memory Called Empire which won last year's Hugo Award and the Baltimore Science Fiction Society's Compton Crook Award for best first novel. Arkady Martine, AKA Dr. AnnaLinden Weller, is a city planner with a Ph.D. in Byzantine history, which naturally inclines her to complex plots and well-realized backgrounds.

If A Memory Called Empire was a novel of setting, that of the richly described culture of the Teixcalaan Empire, A Desolation Called Peace is much more a novel of character or more accurately characters. Three Seagrass, who had served as Ambassador Mahit Dzmare's aide/liaison in the first book, is now a major viewpoint character along with Mahit; Eight Antidote, the 11-year-old heir to the Empire; and new character Nine Hibiscus, yaotlek (commander of fleet commanders) in charge of the fleet fighting the aliens. Unlike other books with multiple viewpoint characters, Martine does not separate different viewpoints into separate chapters but jumps from character to character within each chapter.

The book opens with Nine Hibiscus sending a scout ship to find out more about the mysterious aliens who attack and then vanish without any demands or even communications. No one even knows what they look like. When the scout returns with an alien corpse and a recording of the aliens' communications, which is painful to human ears, Nine Hibiscus sends a message to the Information Ministry asking for a linguist who can speak to aliens.

The Third Undersecretary to the Minister of Information, Three Seagrass, receives that message. Already feeling trapped and bored in her administrative position, she uses her discretionary authority over assigning personnel to assign herself to this job as Envoy-at-Large. She plans to use this position to reunite with Mahit Dzmare since the barbarian is the closest thing to an alien she knows.

Meanwhile, Mahit Dzmare, the heroine of A Memory Called Empire, has returned to Lsel Station, whose efforts to remain independent of the Empire mirror her own personal struggle against assimilating into its culture. Still ambassador, despite her quasi-disgrace, Mahit finds herself learning how to adapt to having both old and young versions of Yskandr as voices in her mind due to the secret and very unauthorized implantation of a second imago, a device that carries another's memories and personality. She is also trying to learn whether Councilor Amnardbat deliberately sabotaged her imago. When Amnardbat demands she update her imago for a future successor, Mahit is suspicious that Amnardbat wants to find out why the sabotage failed and worried about what will happen when the government learns she has replaced her imago. So when Three Seagrass arrives and invites her to join the communications effort, she jumps at the chance.

Back in the empire, 11-year old Eight Antidote, a 90% clone of the previous emperor and the heir to the current one, is learning what a future emperor needs to know. He frequently visits the Department of War to learn how battles are fought. The emperor is only half-joking when she calls Eight Antidote her little spy. In the course of the book, he really does discover secrets and has to decide whether he can take action now, not just prepare for his future reign.

Like the first book, A Desolation Called Peace has a lot going on in the background which makes for a slow start. But once the Three Seagrass and Mahit join the fleet and begin to work on translating the alien language (which they begin to do unrealistically quickly) the pace speeds up. And the hints of an attraction between Three Seagrass and Mahit become a full-bloom sexual relationship that still does not resolve their interpersonal problems.

A Desolation Called Peace lacks the mystery that drove the first book. Instead, there is an overall theme of communications, between humans and aliens, empire and barbarians, and Three Seagrass and Mahit.

I found this book to be very good, but not quite as good as A Memory Called Empire. I felt the alien plotline was resolved too quickly and too easily considering the lack of common ground between humans and aliens. Also what the author intended to be a major surprise about the aliens' nature is too easily predicted. And I find it very difficult to believe an 11-year old, even the clone of a previous empire and the heir to the current one could do what Eight Antidote does at the end (and not get into trouble for it). However, these are minor quibbles in an otherwise excellent book.

This novel also feels like the second book of a trilogy even though I have not heard if Arkady Martine plans to write the third one immediately. A Desolation Called Peace resolved the alien plotline but did not settle the relationship between Three Seagrass and Mahit. And there are still questions about Mahit and the government of Lsel Station.

Readers who loved A Memory Called Empire, and there must be many considering the awards it won, will love A Desolation Called Peace. I highly recommend it to all readers on the understanding that they must read A Memory Called Empire first.
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I enjoyed this one and think it's a fitting end to the series if the author decides to keep it a duology as planned.
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This was so fantastic! As much as I enjoyed A Memory Called Empire, I enjoyed this installment even more. The worldbuilding and science fiction elements were so well written, and it is beautifully written. I had so much fun trying to predict what would happen next. I highly recommend!
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Readers who have loved the first book will probably love this one as much. But for readers like me, who had like it a lot but not really loved it… I wonder.

In a way the story was satisfying, as we get to follow the same characters as in the first book. But it would have been more satisfying if I had felt any attachment to them to begin with; alas, I hadn’t, and it hadn’t.

The second negative point is that I found the story really hard to follow, with a very chaotic rhythm.

To be honest I frequently wondered if I’d be able to finish the book. The only things that made me go on was that it was a Netgalley read, and I don’t like to give up those, and the promise of aliens’ psychology. (The exposition of this last one was good, if rather meagre, after all that wait along the book!)

I’m not sorry to have finish the book, but I wonder if my wobbling reading was due to the fact that I wasn’t in love with the Teixcalaan world and its characters, or because of the writing. The author chose to unfold the story with different points of view, and if the whole was linear and theoretically easy to follow, the writing technique made it nearly insufferably boring to go on. This way of finishing so many parts with cliff-hangers didn’t make me more exciting about reading on, but annoyed me. What made it worse was the rambling and digressing writing. I get that the reader is supposed to be immersed in each character’s thoughts, and that rambling and digressing is perfectly representative of how someone thinks, but for the reader I am, it was painful to read. And most of the time, not very interesting.

All in all, a good read, I liked the story but not the efforts I had to make to make my way through it, and I doubt that I’ll be reading the next sequel. The best reads, in my point of view, are the ones you dive in merrily and swim happily till the end, with little efforts and plenty of satisfaction!  

(I thank Netgalley and Macmillan-Tor/Forge for sending me the ARC in exchange for my honest review)

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I know this is an unpopular opinion. Unfortunately this second book did not do it for me.
While I found the first book interesting, intriguing, and concepts that just blew my mind, I can't say I got attached to the characters.
So this second book has the same style, and expands the world building. But having no attachment to the characters, I did not care much for what was happening unfortunately.
I think the writing style was really cohesive and worked very well with the world build. I believe that many science fiction fans would like this book.
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A Memory Called Empire was excellent, this one is even better.
It's another gripping page turner that keeps you hooked and enthralled.
The plot is tightly knitted and complex, the world building is excellent and expand what we already knew, great character development.
Arkady Martine is an excellent storyteller and this novel is strongly recommended.
It can be read as a standalone as it's a follow up to A Memory Called Empire.
Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for this ARC, all opinions are mine
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Not sure if it's the overall plot, characters, writing, or even the combination, they just did not work for me..
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