A Memory Called Empire was probably one of the most innovative science fiction novels of recent memory. And now, the follow-up and conclusion to the duology, A Desolation Called Peace was just released. So you can bet I was excited to dive back into the world of the Teixcalaanitzlim! It was an interesting experience reading book two in text after audiobooking the first one – so many things are spelled very differently to how I expected them to be!
Massive thanks to Black Crow PR and UK Tor for sending me a review copy! All opinions are my own
RELEASE DATE: 04/03/2021
STAR RATING: 4/5 ✶
SUMMARY: An alien armada lurks on the edges of Teixcalaanli space. No one can communicate with it, no one can destroy it, and Fleet Captain Nine Hibiscus is running out of options.
In a desperate attempt at diplomacy with the mysterious invaders, the fleet captain has sent for a diplomatic envoy. Now Mahit Dzmare and Three Seagrass—still reeling from the recent upheaval in the Empire—face the impossible task of trying to communicate with a hostile entity.
Their failure will guarantee millions of deaths in an endless war. Their success might prevent Teixcalaan’s destruction—and allow the empire to continue its rapacious expansion.
Or it might create something far stranger . . . (from Tor)
OPINIONS: On one hand, I absolutely loved returning to Arkady Martine’s rich and detailed world. While A Memory Called Empire focused on the inside workings and small-scale politicking, A Desolation Called Peace opened up to the wider world around Teixcalaan, war and diplomacy. But, I felt that in the grander scale of things, individual relationships and characters got a bit lost. I got so excited when Three Seagrass rejoined the story, but sadly the relationship between her and Mahit Dzmare was not explored as much as I would have liked. In that respect, I found the sequel a bit unsatisfying, as their relationship and banter was one of my favourite aspects of the first book.
What I really liked is that A Desolation Called Peace explored the Imago line further. Mahit and Yskandr – you bet I was taken aback reading their names spelled out very differently than I imagined from the audio – slowly meld together more, and become a sort of new person incorporating aspects of both their personalities. This exploration of what makes one oneself was very interesting to me.
While I felt like A Desolation of Peace didn’t quite live up to the expectations A Memory Called Empire set, that is likely down to personal preference. I’m not a huge fan of grand scale science fiction and war in space in general, and much preferred the more personal intriguing of the first book. This second book is very different in feeling to the first, and I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing. It is still an excellent book, and I think many people will love it, even if it didn’t hit the spot for me personally.