Ambassador Mahit Dzmare arrives in the center of the multi-system Teixcalaanli Empire only to discover that her predecessor, the previous ambassador from their small but fiercely independent mining Station, has died. But no one will admit that his death wasn't an accident. Now, Mahit must discover who is behind the murder, to save herself and her way of life. Arkady, scholar of Byzantine history brings all her knowledge of intricate political maneuvering to bear in her debut space opera.
...a mesmerizing debut, sharp as a knife that threatens as much by the gold filigree in its hilt as by the edge of its blade ... With incredible clarity and precision, Martine folds layer after layer of complexity into this book...welding beauty and efficiency, building engineering out of verse. It left me utterly dazzled.
The setup is the start to a stunning story that impressively blends together Martine’s fantastic and immersive world, a combination political thriller, cyberpunk yarn, and epic space opera that together make up a gripping read ... Martine threads a delicate needle...as the plot unfurls, showing off the complex facets where politics and identity mix ... it’s an excellent, gripping novel with a brisk plot, outstanding characters, and plenty to think about long after it’s over.
...[a] stunning debut ... Martine hits the ground running, and the relentless pace doesn’t let up for the entire book. Aspects of the story that could come across as stiff, detailed worldbuilding or decadent indulgence in the multitude of characters running around in other hands are instead deftly incorporated into the forward motion of the plot. Martine has perfectly calibrated each chapter to do as much as possible to serve character, emotion, plot, and worldbuilding, all in perfect balance with each other. Martine’s writing is a brilliant, measured exercise in raising stakes, propelling emotionally rich and complex characters forward, and delivering information that always feels organic to the situation. Not only that, but her worldbuilding is some of the most elegant and rich I’ve come across in recent science fiction ... A Memory Called Empire is a success by every metric possible. It has compelling, complex characters that made me root for them with every turn of the page...It raises complex, thorny issues about colonization, empire, culture, society, identity, personhood, economics, and so much more—issues that are interrogated and investigated with a clear eye not given over to cynicism. At the end of the day, this novel asks questions of the reader that left me deep in thought for months after I’d finished the book. In fact, I’m still thinking about them. And I’m most likely going to start my second read as soon as I’ve filed this review.