A Desolation Called Peace by Arkady Martine is a phenomenal follow-up to A Memory Called Empire. In the 1st novel, we met the Lsel Ambassador Mahit Dzmare and her Teixcalaanli controller (pretty much) Three Seagrass. In this continuation, we see the story from both of their perspectives. Addition to that we also see Nine Hibiscus, who is the commander of the Teixcalaanli Fleet, and Eight Antidote, who is the 90% clone of Six Direction, the (previous) Emperor of all Teixcalaan.
The story starts two months after the first novel ended. Mahit Dzmare, the ambassador of Teixcalaan Empire has gotten back home after preventing the empire from attacking her space station. However, rather than being praised as a saviour, she’s being treated with doubt by the leaders of the Station, who know something should not be right with her implant that has the memories of her predecessor. Similarly, as the circumstance is turning out to be illogical, Three Seagrass, her previous cultural liaison at the empire and a present intelligence officer, comes to take her away.
The empire is at battle with a totally alien enemy that they can’t speak with and don’t comprehend. Mahit and Three Seagrass are tasked with learning their language so the conflict can be halted before it spreads to the core of the empire. But that challenge is, how to learn a language that makes you sick? How to win a war when there are groups inside the empire who have their own plans?
This is a more mature novel than the 1st one, and that was not bad either. It’s additionally more science fictional with spaceships, first contacts, and unimaginable aliens. The political interest and philosophizing about cultural dissimilarity is replaced with questions regarding language and meanings of people.
A Desolation Called Peace by Arkady Martine has a satisfying ending suitable for a duology. But, there is huge space for additional novels as well, if the author wishes to proceed with the world. She has made a complex universe with extraordinary characters, and it would be a pity if it finished here.
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