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Publisher's Summary

"[An] all around brilliant space opera, I absolutely love it." (Ann Leckie, on A Memory Called Empire)

A Desolation Called Peace is the spectacular space-opera sequel to Arkady Martine's genre-reinventing, Hugo Award-winning debut, A Memory Called Empire.

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....

A Macmillan Audio production from Tor Books

©2020 Arkady Martine (P)2020 Macmillan Audio

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What listeners say about A Desolation Called Peace

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  • Overall
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Terrific sequel that enhances & expands the original

All told, a fantastic second round to this story/saga!

More facets of the empire & its culture explored, more intriguing concepts for a reader to wrap their head around and space battles to go along with the political intrigue. And a very unique and expansive look at a competing alien ‘culture’.

The narrator (who I felt was a little wooden for the first book) really fleshes out the characters for this one and enhances the story.

A great sci-fi universe, and I hope a third book is on the way!

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Staggering!

If you have any affection for the world of 'A memory called empire' this is no-brainer. The simmering romantic tension between Mahit and Three Seagrass unpins a story of colonialism unwinding, or to steal from numerous places, "What happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object?".

Standing on the shoulders of 'Empire', this novel adds additional viewpoints, from weathered Yaotlek Nine Hibiscus and her right hand, Twenty Cicada, to the scurrying, naïve-but-not-for-long child heir, Eight Antidote and his guardian, Emperor Nineteen Adze. With the narration slipping back and forth between what is, at turns, a war, a love affair, a palace intrigue and a first-contact scenario, the story feels gripping, driven and honestly I could go on for hours on the statements in this work, from commentary on post-colonialism to pervasive surveillance, to the amazing, intricate, wonderful world of Teixcalaan, where poetry is politics.

Having just rolled off Ann Leckie's Imperial Radch trilogy, you may find the similar themes in both of Arkady Martine's volumes to be to your liking. Martine's prose and dialogue is good but her characterizations are pure delight.

The narration is well executed, by the same narrator who performed the first book in the series, with clearly defined internal and external voices for each character, all equally well executed, including the, at times, mouth-twisting issues of Teixcalaanli pronunciation.

I cannot recommend this highly enough, as a sequel to a Hugo winning debut novel, this does not disappoint.



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  • June
  • 2021-03-05

Breathtaking and worth waiting for

Part two of a duo-logy, the first being A Memory Called Empire which won the Hugo last year! While the first book was from Mahit Dzmare’s POV, the sequel expands beyond Mahit to multiple characters which at times the chapter or scene would end on a bit of a cliff hanger and go to the next POV making it very difficult to stop listening to. The prose is light, beautiful, and even humorous at times. I would rewind just to listen to the actual poetry which is one of the main features of Teixcalaan culture and often act as double entendres. The main plot about fighting a monstrous enemy is a metaphor for “us vs them.” If “they” aren’t an “us” than they must be barbarians, monsters or worse even if the “us” commits atrocities to maintain power and control. So ask yourself, who’s really the barbarian or monster here? Many themes are explored such as identity, assimilation, friendship, love, loyalty, politics and others. Probably will need listen to again as this novel is richly layered and more will be revealed. Although the author says it’s a duology, the ending seems like there could be more adventures for Mahit Dzmare and hopefully Three Seagrass as they are a dynamic duo!

1 person found this helpful

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  • Quinalt
  • 2021-05-04

Enjoyed to book mostly

I found this book to be well written with an engaging story, with two issue:

1 - The representation of romantic relationship of the main characters was just cringy. They were supposed to be women in their mid-20s, not insecure 12 year olds - mature adults don't act that way. If it was a paper book, I would have skimmed those pages for relevant content but the audio books make that harder, so I had to listen to the silly, juvenile angst hoping for something that would advance the plot (spoiler: there wasn't anything).

2 - As with a lot of science fiction books I've read recently, some technology seems to be stuck in the 21st century. What I mean is that there are giant star ships that use FTL (either warp or gates or something) but somehow a space station is still just a tin can, instead of an O'Neill cylinder or similar. It just shows lack of imagination or maybe lack of research?.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 2021-05-01

excellent sequel

a fantastic sequel. Mahit's story continues and does not disappoint! I couldn't stop listening to the book, such a wonderful audio version though I recommend x1.5 speed

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  • RainierRandy
  • 2021-04-28

Captivating world

This plot was rich and had a lot of depth. The character development was amazing and the technology ideas were incredible. The amount of complex backstory woven into the narrative was compelling.

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  • Tess
  • 2021-04-23

Great performance

I actually liked this better than book one. Maybe it is because I read book one and listen to book 2? Listening to it added a lot for me.

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  • Elisabeth Carey
  • 2021-04-23

Mahit Dzmare and Three Seagrass are back

Three months have passed since the end of A Memory Called Empire, and Mahit Dzmare, who had decided she couldn't stay in Teixcalaan, has found that she can't really go home again, either. Lsel Station is not a friendly and welcoming place for someone who has absorbed so much Teixcalaan culture, and who, oops, has not one but two imagos of the previous Ambassador, Yskandr, in her head. The Minister for Heritage wants Mahit in her lab to upload her imago for future generations, and when she finds out for sure what Mahit has done, it's not likely Mahit is going to survive that.

The Minister for Pilots is very annoyed with her and not inclined to help. The Minister for Mining has made her what's a really bad offer even if Mahit believed he'd keep his promise. When Three Seagrass shows up, managing to cause more trouble in the process, but asking Mahit, as Ambassador to Teixcalaan, to accompany her to what's going to be a really difficult negotiation in the middle of a war zone, Mahit decides it is, at least, the best offer available.

The deal Three Seagrass has brought her is that they work together to negotiate with aliens whose language they not only can't understand, but is near-impossible even to listen to. The Teixcalaanlizlim not only don't understand the language; they don't understand anything about the aliens. And the aliens don't understand anything about humans--including the fact that humans and these aliens have very different experiences of personhood.

Oh, and there's the awkward little fact that the aliens are much better at destroying Teixcalaan ships than Teixcalaan is at destroying the alien ships.

It's not just the communication problems with the aliens they have to contend with, though. There are political conflicts within the fleet. Yaotlek Nine Hibiscus has only six flagships, including her own, and their supporting ships, to fight the aliens. Yet one of her fleet captains, Sixteen Moonrise, is not supporting Nine Hibiscus, but trying to undermine her, even on her own flagship, Weight of the Wheel. Among other things, Sixteen Moonrise is working to cast Nine Hibiscus's efforts to evaluate the aliens and gather information to make an attack effective, as a hesitancy to confront them at all.

Both Nine Hibiscus and Sixteen Moonrise have allies back in the Ministry of War. Nine Hibiscus also has her adjutant, Twenty Cicada, whose well-earned nickname is Swarm (he's everywhere.) Back on the Teixcalaan homeworld, Eight Antidote, eleven-year-old heir to the Emperor Nineteen Adze, is noticing intrigue going on, and looking for answers. Even engaging in some intrigue of his own. He's caught between being just eleven, only perhaps a little more mature than the average eleven-year-old, but still a kid, and at the same time, the heir to the Emperor, with some real political value and power of his own.

In all of this, there's still the uncertain relationship between Mahit and Three Seagrass, with Three Seagrass unaware of how much she unintentionally disrespects and insults Mahit, due to Teixcalaan cultural arrogance and imperialism, despite her genuine love for her. Managing that conflict is another challenge for Mahit, and confusion for Three Seagrass.

And I haven't really said a word about what an interesting character Twenty Cicada is. He's from a world absorbed into the empire perhaps more recently than many, an adherent of a minority religion, with an ethical philosophy different from the dominant one, and aside from his real friendship with the Yaotlek, that different viewpoint is an important part of his value to her. I really would like to see more of Nine Hibiscus and Twenty Cicada.

Oh, and there's a kitten. Mustn't forget the kitten!

Highly recommended.

I bought this audiobook.

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  • Micah Anderle
  • 2021-04-22

Mad decent sequel

Slightly less intricate than A Memory Called Empire, as if the author took less time to write it. still captivating and full of delectable world-building detail.

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  • Squeak
  • 2021-04-04

Brilliant

Much like the first book, the action ascends slowly. We get a good look at Lisel Station, a feel for the Teixcalaanli space force and its interlinked Shard pilots, an enchanting perspective from the young emperor-to-be Eight Loop, and the looming three-ringed alien threat.

You might feel like getting off this ride early. After all, Mahit and Three Seagrass got issues to work out, with each other and within themselves; it gets taxing. Eight Loop’s story, while intriguing, seems like it will go in way more than eight loops. And new characters, Nine Hibiscus, Sixteen Moonrise, Eleven Laurel, are caught in the slow, intractable Teixcalaanli political game. Only Twenty Cicada, or Swarm, an imperial outsider like Mahit who functions within the empire, offers occasional curiosities and, later, a complete bridge to the novel ending.

The final third is a roller coaster: one where all the rides in the park come together at once. And all the loops begin to make sense: the connection between the imagos and the networking tech used by the Sunlit and the Shard pilots; the relation between the aliens and that technology of conjoined consciousness. Finally, without getting into spoilers, it was nice to see a novel make use of fungus’ sci-fi capacity. Conceptually and story wise, Martine left plenty to be tapped. Genuinely hope she graces us with another gem.

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  • 2560431
  • 2021-03-29

Excellent!!

Absolutely fantastic - loved the second part as much as the first. It’s quite unlike any other space opera I read - it’s very original, political, adventurous and super imaginative. Pick this one up for sure!!!

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  • angelaz
  • 2021-03-22

Stunning in both its detail and scope

I am wild for Martine’s prose and this trilogy. It will be one of those I relisten to the minute I finish volume three—I’ll be that sorry to finish them. And now the wait begins, but we always have Poetry to help us through the hard parts of our days. (And our narrator’s performance was flawless!)