Member Reviews

A superb companion to A Memory Called Empire and a standout book on its own, A Desolation Called Peace is an incredible read. This is going to be a must for fans of the first book in the series, and I will have to say that readers should read the first book before this one for the necessary context needed to understand exactly what is going on with the political and cultural elements that this book deals with. Martine's returning characters shine here as they try to quickly stake their place in a shifting and turbulent situation that neither of them is fully equipped to handle on their own, and several of the new characters threaten to steal the show even if the novel doesn't spend as much time with them as our protagonists.

Fans of A Memory Called Empire and books like it will be well served with this title.

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First, a necessary disclosure: this is book 2 of a duology, so I would strongly recommend reading book 1 (which I reviewed here) before you jump into this one. Can you read it as a stand alone? Probably... but you will miss out on a lot of context and dramatic events that brought our characters to where they are in this book.

The story picks up two months after the end of the first book. Lsel Station got what they wanted - the Teixcalaan Empire is now at war with the mysterious aliens that had been disappearing their ships in the darkness of the void. Mahit is back on Lsel, but the place she grew up in doesn't feel like home anymore, especially with the secret she is carrying about the sabotage of her imago machine and the unorthodox method she used to repair it.

And back in the City, the new Emperor is now forced to win a war she didn't want, while also fighting the clock and dagger fights with officials of different departments that didn't particularly want her on the throne... like the ministry of War, who she needs to fight this war instead of her.

We get to follow some of the characters that we came to know and love from the first book, like Mahit and Three Seagrass, who end up in the middle of the action once again, trying to find a common ground with an alien species so different that they don't even have a language per se and who don't consider individual deaths as anything of consequence.

We are also introduced to new characters, some of which we briefly saw in the first book, like Eleven Antidote, the 90% clone of the late Emperor. I must admit that I absolutely loved his POV in this book. He is eleven years old, but he is not a typical child. He's been brought up and educated as a clone of the Emperor, so he never had a real childhood. He is also very smart and precautious, and he likes to think things through and solve mysteries. And I loved the courage and determination he showed when he acted to right what he was convinced was a wrong, even though he was going against the orders or the current Emperor by doing so.

Another wonderful new character is Twelve Cicada, who is the second in command to Nine Hibiscus, the fleet commander charged with wining the war against an enemy who can appear in and out of subspace and spit a substance that dissolves ships along with the pilots. I loved the relationship between these two and how they complemented and tempered each other. And I found highly satisfying the fact that Twelve Cicada was the one to find a solution to this conflict in the end.

This book touches several important themes. What exactly is the price of civilization and isolationism? Can you be a person even though you aren't "civilized" in the eyes of your opponent? To Teixacaalisim, everyone else is a barbarian, including other humans, so the encounter with something even more alien has them unsettled and unable to react properly.

Who are you in the end as an individual, when your home station feels like hostile environment, but the Empire you longed to belong to all your life threatens to swallow you whole and kill your individuality? That is the question Mahit grapples with in this book.

And finally, is destroying a whole planet a price an Emperor is willing to pay to maybe end a conflict before it becomes a war of attrition? Or is that an act too atrocious even for Teixcalaan? What legacy do you want to leave for your descendants? That's the problem Eleven Antidote grapples with.

There are multiple layers in this book, so it's hard to address them all without spoilers. My advice is, read this duology. Go by the first book and read that while you wait on the second one to come out in March 2021.

PS: I received an advanced copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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This novel was SO satisfying. Labyrinthine politics (internal and external) that actively oppose real progress, the perils of liminal states, First Contact, the dangers of rigidity, colonizers seeing their own reflection, language limitations (seriously, lots of language focus; it's very cool), and how love doesn't automatically wipe out a lifetime of institutional bias. Also, very scary aliens.

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A Memory Called Empire was one of my favourite books of 2019, possibly all time, so there was absolutely no way I wasn’t going to love A Desolation Called Peace. It was wholly inconceivable. So, nothing I say in this review should be at all surprising, really.

At the end of A Memory Called Empire, it was revealed that an alien threat was approaching Teixcalaanli space, and fighting that threat is what takes up the bulk of A Desolation Called Peace. There are added POVs, too, with Eight Antidote, Three Seagrass and Nine Hibiscus in addition to Mahit. So, we follow Nine Hibiscus on the frontlines of the war, Three Seagrass as she wrangles her way into being sent out there too, Mahit as she is co-opted into said war (though also as a way to escape Stationer politics), and Eight Antidote as he deals with the politics at home.

It’s an even more complex book than A Memory Called Empire.

And, really, that’s what I love about this series. There’s such depth to the worldbuilding and consideration of even the tiniest aspects of it, and I love it. You can so easily lose yourself in Martine’s world and writing. And here, you get an expansion of that world. No longer are we only on the Teixcalaanli home planet, but we’re also in Stationer Space, and at the outer reaches of the empire, meeting new aliens who don’t communicate in nearly a similar way to everyone else.

In the first book, there’s this line “Like a flower turns to the sun or a person takes in oxygen, he said, Teixcalaan reaches again toward the stars.” and I always think of that as reflective of how the books feel. They’re a slow unfurling of the plot, so that you’re always wanting to read more to find out what happens next. Combine that with the aforementioned worldbuilding, and you get the kind of book I mean when I say I like slow adult SFF. The sort you can just immerse yourself in for hours on end.

And then when you finish, you’re left with a desperate desire for more.

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I am grateful that Martine's A Desolation Called Peace came my way at the end of 2020 instead of during the middle, when I had a full case of Quarantine Brain™. Some authors write books suited to QB: undemanding, fun, predictable, and about as interesting as chocolate pudding. Martine is almost the exact opposite, in the best way possible. Almost every word feels like it has weight, and it's almost impossible to predict where her starry empire will take the reader.

"'What is it made of?' Three Seagrass asked, and then drank it before he could answer her. It tasted like salt. Like--alcoholic salt, and oceans. There weren't any oceans here. It was fascinating, and also awful, and she was never, ever drinking it again."

A Desolation Called Peace follows up on the events of A Memory Called Empire. Mahit has returned to Lsel Station, and Three Seagrass is working for the Emperor's Information Ministry. These two share the narrative with two new characters: Eight Antidote, an eleven year-old who happens to be the former Emperor's clone and current heir; and Nine Hibiscus, the leader of the squadron seeking to discover what's been eating ships at the edge of 'civilization,' right by Lsel Station.

"Mahit had done fine without her on Lsel, had missed her only as much as she'd missed Teixcalaan, which was enormously and with aching frustration."

As each narrative develops, they slowly begin to intertwine. The plotting felt both well done and largely organic. Early on in the story, Nine Hibiscus engages the aliens and her story has an active tension to it. Marit's conflict is more emotionally insidious and challenging, as she and her imago, Yskandr try to negotiate their way back into Lsel life. Eight Antidote's narrative is an intriguing counterpoint to the adults; his voice is clear, usually not wrought with emotion, and his role as student helps the reader orient themselves to the complexities of the situations and conflicts as well:
"He'd have to remember not to make [that mistake], when he was Emperor. Loyalty wasn't transitive. It didn't move up and down the chain of command smoothly. It could get cut off, or rerouted. Especially if someone else powerful was intervening in the movement of information."

It explores cultural identity, communication, treason, first contact, war crimes, the nature of memory and identity, the nature of experience and self, and love between people of different cultures. And it does this without long, wall o'texts that make readers' eyes start to roll back in their heads. It does it in beautiful, evocative ways, with action and emotion. To say, I 'liked it' is an understatement: it was one of the best books I read in 2020. It's definitely earned a spot on my bookshelf.

"And he could figure out the rest later. He wasn't stupid. He read all kinds of poems."

A note on story order: The story was meant to be told as a duology, so it might be worth trying to read them both reasonably close together. Should you read the first before the second? Yes. Can you get by without it? Probably, but you are going to miss out on some of the complex cultural and interpersonal dynamics of the characters that make the story so rich.

Many thanks to NetGalley and Tor Publicity for an advance e-book for review. The book is scheduled for release on March 2021. Quotes are subject to change and only included to give a flavor of the evocative and lovely writing.

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It has been my reading experience that sequels to award-winning science fiction novels often do not live up to their predecessor’s reputation. A Desolation Called Peace is Arkady Martine’s 2021 sequel to her 2020 Hugo Award winning space opera, A Memory Called Empire – but defies that pattern. It’s as if she read my comments on book 1, and responded to them. We DO see an exposition of the station culture of Lsel, with its linear integration of generations of prior personalities. We DO see the threat of military conflict in space against appallingly alien aliens. Those aliens were barely introduced in book 1, but the war with them plays a focal point for the power and intrigue plots now. I am now far more impressed with this pair of novels, than I was with the first as a stand-alone.

Readers need to be aware that this is a direct sequel. That means that the same characters are carried forward, and events build on the prior events. The setting is not re-introduced and the prior plot is not recapped. So, I recommend these two novels be read in order, preferably with not too long a time between them.

Importantly, the characters have grown and changed since book 1. Mahit Dzmare is home on Lsel, ejected from Teixcalaan, and unpopular with important figures in the station government she once represented as ambassador. Three Seagrass (Reed) has taken an important job in the Information Ministry, as Envoy to the alien enemy as requested by the war commander Nine Hibiscus. Nineteen Adze is the young new Emperor. Eight Antidote is her 11-year-old heir, second in line to the throne. In the beginning, I felt there was too much time spent on nuances of the relationship between Reed and Mahit, slowing down the exposition of the setting and the action. But all that ground-laying led to enjoyable interacting play-out of multiple layers during the novel’s conclusion. In the very very end, things fell together just a little too neatly – but I found it satisfying anyway. This is highly recommended entertainment, if not particularly literary.

Arkady Martine is the pen-name of American historian and science fiction writer AnnaLinden Weller. I received ebook advance reader copy from Tor Publicity through netgalley in exchange for an honest review. The book is scheduled for release on 2 March 2021.

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The previous book in the series was excellent and this one is equally as good. Martine is a skilled writer and this book should do well with her fan base, and maybe bring in some new fans. Recommended.

I really appreciate the ARC for review!!

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I didn’t love this book as much as I loved the first one, but that’s a common theme with me and SFF sequels. However, I definitely think it was a worthwhile read and nicely expanded upon the universe that the author created in the first book. I think one of the reasons that I liked this slightly less was that it was more of a space opera than I found the prior novel to be (and less of, though the elements are still there, a story of politics and world building).

I also really wanted to point out that of the four major POV characters, three are women and the other is a child. It was awesome to see an adult SFF book where a man’s POV was deemed necessary to complete the story (as women’s voices have been considered unnecessary in similar circumstances for so long).

Overall, I do recommend this if you liked the first book or if you like space operas with political undertones. It was great to be back with Mahit and Three Seagrass.

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A Desolation Called Peace by Arkady Martine is a superb read with well-defined characters and plotline. Definitely a page turner and well worth a read!

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This is the sequel to Martine’s Hugo Award-winning debut, "A Memory Called Empire." It follows the story of Mahit Dzmare, who at 26, found herself unexpectedly appointed the new Ambassador sent to the Teixcalaan Empire from her home on Lsel Station, an artificial mining construct with at most 30,000 inhabitants. After only a short time, and despite the connection she felt with her cultural liaison in the capital a woman named Three Seagrass, she had enough and returned home. But home was not the sanctuary she thought it would be, and she immediately became a pawn between rival ruling members of Lsel Station’s Council and was in danger for her life.

Mahit improbably gets a last minute reprieve through the intervention of Three Seagrass, who insists Mahit needs to accompany her to the edge of the galaxy to help serve as an interpreter between the Teixcalaanli fleet and a bizarre alien race that is attacking them.

Indeed, the problems of language and ways to communicate is central to this sequel, always underlying the Byzantine politics and characters who are struggling to survive in a world rife with ambition, ideology, loyalty, and complex machinations among all the parties.

Interestingly, one of the languages at play is poetry and its expression through song, because that is a primary means of transmission in the Teixcalaanli culture. A second very different language that figures strongly in the story is that of shared perceptions and experiences, and how that sharing shapes future thought.

Yet another theme running through the story is the famous quote from Tacitus, the Roman orator, lawyer, and senator considered one of antiquity's greatest historians, from which the book’s title comes:

“These plunderers of the world [the Romans], after exhausting the land by their devastations, are rifling the ocean: stimulated by avarice, if their enemy be rich; by ambition, if poor; unsatiated by the East and by the West: the only people who behold wealth and indigence with equal avidity. To ravage, to slaughter, to usurp under false titles, they call empire; and where they make a desert, they call it peace.”

Evaluation: Martine’s imagination can literally be said to know no bounds. The world-building in this space opera is very detailed and complex. The author assists by providing a glossary at the end of the book, although I would have preferred if it had preceded the story. While this book is clearly "science fiction" set in a very alien universe, the themes are universal and recognizable: quest for power, fear of death, and most of all, the desire for connection and belonging.

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One of the more striking things I recall from my graduate degree in English is Foucault, or at any rate someone quoting Foucault, talking about the concept of “person.” Quite a bit of injustice and a whole lot of structural violence and oppression boils down to who and what we count as a person – that is, a human who matters. Because if you don’t matter, or if you matter less, then who cares what happens to you?

This thought was reverberating around in my head from beginning to end of Arkady Martine’s exceptional, thought-provoking sequel to last year’s Hugo-winning A Memory Called Empire. That book was about falling in love with a culture that doesn’t love you back. It was about political intrigue, and poetry, and a city that was an also an empire. I loved it a lot.

A Desolation Called Peace plays with similar themes in a different playground. The action has reoriented: in a neat inversion (quite a lot of those, actually), we’re at the edges of the empire, not its center. Instead of court intrigue, we get military conniving. And, in direct contravention of the title, we get a certain kind of war. Or, to put it more precisely, we stand on the knife-edge of one.

Enter Mahit Dzmare and Three Seagrass. Mahit, having returned to Lsel Station at the end of the previous book, faces a delicate political situation. Three Seagrass, having received a promotion, faces some trouble of her own. And, one way or another, they wind their way to a conflict at the edge of Teixcalaanli space, with an alien force that no one understands.

Who or what are these aliens? What do they want? Martine gives you some hints along the way, but there are still moments of terrible surprise: those gut-churning moments when you realize that, like the characters, you understand far less than you think you do. And there are moments of elation, too – of discoveries that tilt the world through the sheer force of Martine’s subtle wording. (I am thinking of one particular moment that prompted me to actually write “Oooh, clever” in my notes.)

Speaking of which, the prose is frequently gorgeous, even poetic. There is one sentence, early on, that practically put me in a state of spontaneous weeping, it was so heartbreakingly beautiful. In deference to the distance of the publication date I won’t be including any direct quotes here, but trust me: there are moments when this prose sings.

What makes all of this work as well as it does – and it works very, very well – is how thoroughly integrated plot, character, and theme are. This is something I often look for and rarely find: everything is connected, like a golden thread linking every disparate element of the story, weaving a whole that’s greater than the sum of its parts. Personhood, freedom, finding home, and being known. These themes are refracted and reflected like glittering shards across every page.

It helps that we are led through this conflict by characters who are both complex and likable. Mahit and Three Seagrass are fun and frustrating together, and they are joined by an assortment of characters – some known, some new – that make reading a delight. There is one character, in particular, who is so delightful and smart and brave that I now want another whole book just about him, please and thank you.

Martine has created a vast and fascinating world, populated with likable but nuanced characters, and filters their conflicts through the lens of some truly affecting and thought-provoking questions. This is science fiction of the highest order. I can’t recommend enough picking this up when it releases in March.

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The second in the series does a nice job of bringing our "heroes" back together for a new threat that could just destroy both Lsel station and drag the empire into a never ending war. The author excels at interior monologue as characters tease apart the intended or hidden meaning behind a statement.

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I was given an ARC of A Desolation Called Peace, the sequel to Arkady Martine's debut novel A Memory Called Empire, and read it as quickly as I could, around the obligations of adulthood. This culminated in a Saturday where I did research all morning, gave a math talk in a virtual room in Ottowa, made dinner out of cauliflower and black cumin seeds, and then curled up under an electric blanket with a whiskey sour and two cats and kept reading till one in the morning, a set of life choices that seemed thematically appropriate.

A Desolation Called Peace opens like a war book, with a talented general facing an alien enemy whose ships appear from nowhere. In structure, though, it's a political book--a personal one, with prediction balanced against prediction, desire against desire.

Desolation's balances are arrayed in twos and threes and sixes. The threes make a fair summary. There are three civilizations, the lonely station Lsel, the empire Teixcalaan, and the encroaching aliens, and three central viewpoint characters: the Stationer ambassador Mahit, the Information Ministry emissary Three Seagrass, and the eleven-year-old imperial heir Eight Antidote, who is a delight. There are also three technologies for linking minds to minds, though Mahit only knows of one, the imago memory implant that connects her to young and old versions of the murdered ambassador Yskandr. Sixes are for large-scale politics: six Councilors jointly rule Lsel, and together the branches called Six Palms create the Teixcalaanli Ministry of War.

I trust these counts have meaning because A Desolation Called Peace is consciously and gleefully crafted. It's not a book that hides its artifice. It wants you to glory in the layers. There's a joy in watching the conveyances of plot draw Mahit and Three Seagrass onto the same ship. The mirroring between Mahit and Yskandr is more complete than it was in A Memory Called Empire, and there's a pleasure in the skill they learn to share. The center of the book is a scene where their memories match perfectly, hand over hand.

There's one place where the layers may seem thin, and that's the ways in which Teixcalaanli is and is not Nahuatl. The references to the Aztec empire are there; but Nahuatl is a living language. I'm not the right person to make a full accounting, but as the child of a gardener, I wondered about the flowers. Teixcalaanli culture is full of symbolic chrysanthemums and lotuses, Old World flowers. I only caught one nasturtium from the Americas. A twenty-first-century US perspective on internationalism weaves in and around Desolation's old images of sun and sacrifice. It might be safest to think of its City as another triple: Tenochtitlan, maybe, but at least as much Byzantium and New York.

Mahit first earned Yskandr's memories through the aptitudes, tests that measure both realized and potential skill and psychological compatibility. I have the impression that as writers, Arkady Martine and I share a particular aptitude, an aesthetic preoccupation with pattern, color, and the way light falls, and an impulse to make that kind of beauty carry story with it. There's a particular trick of foreshadowing in the shape of a tattoo, for instance, that struck me with the force of resonating intuition. We don't approach people the same way, though--that's clear to me even when I make allowances for a story turning on everyone's potential to seem alien. I'm glad of the surprises, and for a dynamic balance that doesn't end in desolation at all, but in hope.

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A DESOLATION CALLED PEACE by Arkady Martine continues what made the first book so wonderful. It's a jewel of a book that shines in many lights. I went into this completely blind, having only my memory of the first book. (um, possible pun unintended.) While this book doesn't directly explain the former events, there were enough reminders that getting back into the rhythm of things was relatively easy.

This definitely isn't a book to kick back and relax to. Well, it wasn't for me anyway. I had to really pay attention to what I was reading. Similar to the first book, there's a slight learning curve. This isn't a knock on the book. It made me actually notice the little details. The interesting tattoo on Twelve Cicada, for instance. Or noticing the idiosyncrasies of the different POVS.

I appreciated how well fleshed out the characters were. The writing was done in such a way that there was never any confusion on who the focus was on. My personal favorite sections to read were Mahit's because I liked seeing how she grappled with just being. She is Mahit, but she is also someone else. She is also an older version of that someone else. She is the personification of memory.

The worldbuilding and other intricacies are astounding. There's almost a petty nature to all the secrets people are keeping in this book, even from the Emperor Herself. We don't see it directly, but there are hints at another world. There are hints at another civilization in the interludes. I think the fact that we don't get more information makes these hints and sections that much more intriguing.

I will say that I found Eight Antidote's sections...not hit or miss exactly, because I genuinely enjoyed them. But it felt like we were constantly reminded that he was eleven years old. By the way, he's eleven years old. It was like we were constantly being reminded that he wasn't an adult but a child. And it makes me wonder if, had these reminders not been there (I swear in nearly every single one of his sections, even if briefly), would I think of him as a child character? I wonder if part of the intent is to show that he is a child devoid of a childhood, connected to his ancestor-the-emperor and constantly studying, thinking of becoming the Emperor.

In my eyes, A DESOLATION CALLED PEACE is about being connected while at the same time being separated. That's probably the biggest theme coursing through this book I think. It's one that it both enjoyable and thought-provoking. It's one that I think will stick with me. And it's one I hope is only the second in a longer least a trilogy.

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I'm delirious with how much I loved A Desolation Called Peace.
I re-read A Memory Called Empire immediately before starting it, to make sure I was keeping track of everything in my head - and this made it more clear to me that, though a continuation, this book reads quite differently to its predecessor. Firstly, space, and battlefields in space especially, are a vastly different environment than the imperial court. However, it also took me a while to get used to the multiple points of view (I'm generally a huge fan of multi-POVs, but I think coming straight from the first book I was still very firmly entrenched in Mahit's head).
By the time I'd reached the conclusion of the book I was thoroughly invested in all of the characters - the differing POVs allowed deeper consideration of all aspects of the story, and a wider appreciation of just what a masterful work this is. As with A Memory..., the writing throughout is utterly beautiful. Regardless of the POV, or the context (the small chapter-starting snippets from the first book reappear here, adding extra context and intrigue), Arkady Martine's words pull you along effortlessly.
It is possibly a side effect of this being the conclusive part of the duology, but it felt even more emotionally satisfying than its predecessor. I would happily read more from Mahit and Three Seagrass, of course, but I feel content with where we left off here (and I shed a surprised tear at some points too).

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"A Desolation Called Peace" is ultimately a story about communication between alien cultures, following in the wake of Clarke's 2001 Space Odyssey, Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land and Card's Ender series. It is nevertheless a long and perilous journey to get there. What with unpronounceable civilizations like Teixicalaanli and names of characters such as Nine Hibiscus and Three Seagrass, this novel, like the first one in this series, is a difficult nut to crack. It's dense, rich, thick, and, as a reader, you are plunged into this strange universe without warning. But, persevere. It's worth the early struggle once you finally see the map of where this is going.

Martine reprises many characters from the first book such as Mahit Dzmare and Three Seagrass. All of the characters ultimately make their way in some form to the edge of the galaxy where the Fleet has encountered an alien civilization which acts so different from what is known. It makes little sense why everyone is headed there but there appears no way to communicate. Their sounds do not even appear to be language. Is there any common ground or is the distance so great that endless war is the only route to take?

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"<i>A loss for whom?</i> Yskander murmured. Mahit wasn't sure, or couldn't tell him, or he already knew. (A loss for <i>her</i>. For the spaces of language that let a person like her imagine Texicalaan and still be a Stationer. The idea that there might be something other than Teixcalaan, when one said the word for <i>world</i>).

Oh, this was a glorious sucker punch of a novel. It takes the roots sunk into your brain by its predecessor and digs even deeper into the questions that the original story raised. This novel is all about <i> tension </i>, about the drawn out agony of moments between cause and effect. Does that mean it has slow moments? Perhaps. But only in service of the greater goal of making you, the reader, deeply resonate with the electrifying undercurrents of meaning.

I grew up in a country of devourers. My nation, much like Texicalaan, spent much of its youth invading, destroying, and eventually absorbing its native peoples and calling these actions <i>freedom</i> and </i>progress</i>. Most of my childhood I passively accepted that mine was the only reality that existed. This novel not only attacks this sense of complacency, but also attacks the broader definiton of what it means to be an individual. Who are <i>you,</i> really, if not a product of the society in which you are raised? How much are you restricted by the bounds of the language you speak? The people who raised you? Where did your values, your morals, your beliefs arise? How much of these do you have to dismantle before you couod begin to craft your own identity? And, above all, what does it mean to love the culture that raised you, despite all of its many atrocities?

I will be thinking about this duology for a long, long time. It's rare that I get so wrapped up in the existential nature of a science fiction novel that I don't first stop examine the fabulous characters and relationships. Three Seagrass and Mahit continue to grow both themselves and their relationship in a way that feels painfully raw. Their romance is lovely in part due to the difficult questions it raises for both of them, and the grace (and, occasionally, the honest ugliness) with which they navigate their complicated feelings. I LOVED every scene the two of them were in. Nine Hibiscus and Twelve Cicada were welcome additions to the narration and a fascinating window in to Texicalaani culture, but by FAR my favorite protagonist of this novel was Eight Antidote. His narrative, more so than any other, leaned into questions of identity and agency, made even more compelling by his status as a child with the weight of far too much responsibility on his shoulders. While some of his narration felt beyond his years, Martine also managed to capture the universal anxieties of being a child of a world of adults. Heir apparent to a galaxy-spanning empire or not, everyone gets scared taking the subway alone for the first time.

If this really is the end of Mahit and Three Seagrass; Texicalaan and Lsel Station, I will be sad but not disappointed. What Martine has accomplished with this duology is a monumental feat of character, story, and emotion, and I hope that this world is immortalized in the canon of influential science fiction for many years to come.

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If you thought the first one was good, you're in for a real treat with this sequel. We push the world deeper, the tory, the intrigue, the characters, a very solid continuity to one of my bi surprise from last year (I read it last year, not sur if it was publish last year or in 2018...). Start with the first one of course, but totally worth discovering!

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A DESOLATION OF PEACE is Book Two of Teixcalaan, the sequel to A MEMORY OF EMPIRE, a carefully-wrought Science Fiction novel starring a strong female protagonist [and the male character whom she retains in her brain stem as an imago], as she continues to navigate the byzantine culture of the Empire, a culture of politely illusory deception and danger.

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<p>Review copy provided by the publisher. The author is a close friend of mine, to the point where I DMed her to screech, "my DUDE Swarm" in the middle of this book when my new favorite character did something particularly noteworthy.</p>
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<p>Mahit Dzmare and Three Seagrass are back, dealing with the (NOT INCONSIDERABLE) fallout from their previous actions. Can Lsel be home again? What about all the upheaval in the reign of the new Emperor, Nineteen Adze? All of that is very much just getting started when Martine's cool, assured prose is introducing us to an entirely new alien species. Threat or menace? We are plunged immediately into finding out--and into all the complications of finding out with the above fallout still ongoing.</p>
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<p>Nine Hibiscus and her old friend Twenty Cicada are on the front lines of the new alien threat. (And if you're thinking, Twenty Cicada, I thought Teixcalaanli weren't supposed to be named after animals, 1) you are just as entranced with Teixcalaanli names as I am and 2) you are correct, this is a worldbuilding detail as well as a bit of characterization. My dude Swarm is the best.) Nine Hibiscus's political position, as a military leader, has been immensely altered by the upheaval in the previous volume, and she has to wrangle disgruntled and politically inconvenient officers under her command as well as keeping the new aliens from pouring in and destroying Lsel Station <em>and</em> the Empire.</p>
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<p>And there are modified kittens in the ductwork. Oh, and Nineteen Adze and her...extremely precocious imperial heir? They have a great deal of look-in too. Because there's a lot going on among the ministries of War, Science, and Information, and it will take a pretty determined person to put the pieces together.</p>
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<p>I laughed, I whimpered, I squirmed, I marveled. This is just <em> so good</em>. It's so thoughtful about home and relationship and obligation and duty and communication, it's doing all the things it's doing on so many iterated levels, it is a beautiful book, it is in every way a delight, and you should feel free to DM me "OMG MY DUDE SWARM" when you get to various bits of this book when it comes out.</p>
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