Book Review

A MEMORY CALLED EMPIRE by Arkady Martine

Rating: 3 / 5

A MEMORY CALLED EMPIRE by Arkady Martine was the November book for the Deep Dark Reads buddy read on Instagram. I went into this knowing nothing besides it being set in space and that it is the first in the Teixcalaan series.

A MEMORY CALLED EMPIRE begins with Mahit who has been summoned to replace her predecessor as her station’s ambassador to the Teixcalaanli Empire. She is given very little time to prepare and finds out upon arrival that her predecessor has died, a supposed accident. Mahit’s technology meant to streamline her way into this foreign world is failing and she isn’t sure who she can trust amidst the political upheaval of the world she’s meant to coordinate with to protect her people.

There were a lot of interesting elements to the world that the author has built here. The Teixcalaani people value poetry and they tell their histories and give tours of their cities based on memorized and recited lines. Political statements are made as poets generate new verse. The various technologies of the different people groups was also interesting, from the artificial intelligence of the Teixcalaani world to the mental implants of Mahit’s station.

While there were a lot of interesting elements to this book, it didn’t really grab hold of me. I tried this one both on audio and in print and while I think audio worked better for me, neither format really sucked me in. I felt like there were areas that could have been fleshed out better as well. As an example the people on the planet have names made up of numbers and objects and there is a whole explanation that the author provided outside of the novel as to the complicated system behind the convention, but that didn’t translate into the text of the novel itself.

Clearly this is a very well thought out world and I think that perhaps spending more time in the world in future installments of the books will allow for a more developed story. I am curious to see where book two takes the story and will be looking forward to hearing more about A DESOLATION CALLED PEACE when it releases in March.

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