I loved the world building in A Memory Called Empire, but I was not expecting to love A Desolation Called Peace even more! The sequel not only delivers political manipulation, which I’ve come to expect, but also ALIENS. YOU READ THAT RIGHT! I loved that element so much and gave me serious “Arrival” vibes! Keep reading this book review to see my full thoughts!
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.
Whether they succeed or fail could change the fate of Teixcalaan forever.
(Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)
A Desolation Called Peace has bloomed into a broader world. A world of aliens, first contact, and survival looming over their heads. Martine delivers a world that examines futures baptized with blood, technology that has the potential for destruction, and questions about the way towards peace. At the beginning of A Desolation Called Peace, we aren’t sure what the motives of everyone are. Not that it gets simpler, but throughout the book Martine unravels the tendrils of stories, people, and manipulation spreading through the stars.
Imago Tech & Aliens
My greatest enjoyment of A Desolation Called Peace stemmed from the fantastic world building developments and everything to do with aliens. Having to reckon with the fall out of A Memory Called Empire, Mahit has to figure out why she might have been sabotaged. Martine sinks into the ideas of the Imago technology – people who keep our memories behind lock and key – and a system based on trust and ethics. All the ways our history is controlled. And the ways we cannot escape the manipulation of the past even in the future.
What happens when we break the ethical rules because we think we are being guided by what is right? Who determines what is right? This looming question is turned over and refracted throughout A Desolation Called Peace. And speaking of ethics, I adored all of the alien interactions, especially the linguistic conversations! It gave me serious “Arrival” vibes which, if you love that idea, you have to read this one! Martine asks interesting quesitons about the lines between us and our societies, not to mention vs them.
That doesn’t mean I didn’t still love Mahit, especially considering their character growth in this book! A character which ended up being my favorite has to be Eight Antidote – who was also in the previous book! A Desolation Called Peace just kind of swept me away and delivered a book I was not expecting. More people need to sell this book as ALIENS! It’s a book which questions the concept of necessary sacrifices and the bargains we have to make. What pieces of ourselves we will lose in the process.