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A Memory Called Empire

Teixcalaan, Book 1
Written by: Arkady Martine
Narrated by: Amy Landon
Series: Teixcalaan Series, Book 1
Length: 15 hrs and 37 mins
4.4 out of 5 stars (49 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Winner of the 2020 Hugo Award for Best Novel
A Locus, and Nebula Award nominee for 2019
A Best Book of 2019: Library Journal, Polygon, Den of Geek
An NPR Favorite Book of 2019
A Guardian Best Science Fiction and Fantasy Book of 2019 and “Not the Booker Prize” Nominee
A Goodreads Biggest SFF Book of 2019 and Goodreads Choice Awards Nominee 

"A Memory Called Empire perfectly balances action and intrigue with matters of empire and identity. All around brilliant space opera, I absolutely love it." (Ann Leckie, author of Ancillary Justice)

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 - or that Mahit might be next to die, during a time of political instability in the highest echelons of the imperial court.  

Now, Mahit must discover who is behind the murder, rescue herself, and save her station from Teixcalaan's unceasing expansion - all while navigating an alien culture that is all too seductive, engaging in intrigues of her own, and hiding a deadly technological secret - one that might spell the end of her station and her way of life - or rescue it from annihilation.  

A fascinating space-opera debut, Arkady Martine's A Memory Called Empire is an interstellar mystery adventure.

"The most thrilling ride ever. This book has everything I love." (Charlie Jane Anders, author of All the Birds in the Sky)

©2019 AnnaLinden Weller (P)2019 Macmillan Audio

What listeners say about A Memory Called Empire

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

quite good

Narrator was a bit unenthusiastic at times. Interesting thematically but needed some more development on certain plot points. The concept of memory was very fascinating.

2 people found this helpful

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Excellent and novel sci-fi!

This blend of science fiction and thriller and history, with interesting advanced tech, but also an exciting political plot, is exactly the sort of thing the genre needs more.of!

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Empire is...

An excellent mediation on the long-term effects of imperialism and the damage empire does, while still acknowledging the difficult choices people have to make living in such a world. Thrilling writing.

1 person found this helpful

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How long have you been in the world?

The centre of an empire, Stationers, and threats from all sides. Loved this book. Especially recommend if you enjoy court intrigue.

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Good scifi

I really liked this story. I would say it's good science fiction that falls slightly short of being 'great' I think this is much more speculative cultural SciFi than hard or high tech. not that the tech is unrealistic (other than maybe FTL depending on your opinions on that), it's just not focused on in a scientific way but in more of a cultural impact way. Love the culture and world building. The audio book performance is great but I knocked down to 4 stars for a few mispronunciation issues

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Nadia
  • 2019-06-10

Story is great, weird editing, not great narration

I love the story but ended up buying the actual book, which I'm going to read myself. The narrator tries to do accents to differentiate the characters but a) seems to have trouble remembering what she was using for which character so sometimes it's hard to tell who's supposed to be speaking and b) made some Choices that had me scratching my head. The drunk guy as Irish? Really? Nineteen Adze as British? I mean, I guess Britain was a colonial power but that just doesn't seem like a great choice for this particular book given that Teixcalaan is deliberately modeled a non-western colonial culture. Also this is all from Mahit's point of view but the narrator flattens her affect anytime she's not doing dialogue so it comes across as very flat and deliberate. Which might work for something from an omniscient POV but it doesn't here where you're supposed to be in Mahit's head, where she's having EMOTIONS. Anyway, I'm not going to finish listening to this because now I have a paper copy of the book and I keep getting distracted from the story by how much I hate "infofiche [pause] stick". It's one object, don't pause between the words. The editing is a whole other problem, you can tell very clearly where a lot of the editing was done because the narrator's voice or inflection or volume changes from one word to another and it's clear that it's from a different take. It throws you right out of the story.

25 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • James
  • 2019-04-13

Good

A slow paced story that focuses on politics, the symantics of language, and world building. I personally found it all to be good and kept me entertained for the most part. I think patient and thoughtful readers will like it, but if you are expecting a lot of explosions and actions scenes look elsewhere. The narrator has a good voice, but doesn't differentiate enough between the characters; although she does do a good enough job that I can tell the difference.

17 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Eric Parris
  • 2020-02-25

Strange concept of what science fiction means

If you ever wanted science fiction to feature more deep analysis of poetry about bureaucracy THIS IS YOUR JAM. Also if you need to know the bias cut of the fabric minor characters’ clothing are wearing or the useless nuance of makeup or doorbell sounds, do buy this book. If not, reader, move on.

13 people found this helpful

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  • Michael G Kurilla
  • 2019-06-24

Ambassadorial murder intrigue

Arkady Martine's A Memory Called Empire follows a rookie ambassador from a small, independent space station (which wants to stay that way) as she navigates her role in the regional Empire. Upon arrival, she learns that her predecessor died and gradually comes to suspect murder, finding a target on her back. With little information on her predecessor's activities, she must piece together clues while avoiding assassination attempts. Meanwhile, a larger menace to both the empire and her home is looming while the empire is mired in succession issues and civil unrest. While the main characters are humanoid, the environment seems completely disconnected from any Earthly relationship. The major sci-fi element is an implant that allows the recipient to absorb the memories of another person such that another person is almost inside their head. Due to his death, she only starts with an out of date backup which goes off quickly. Interestingly, in spite of interstellar travel, the communications between the ambassador and her home space station harkens back to a 19th century arrangement where neither side knows what the other is doing. At the same time, while the Empire has the outward impression of an overwhelming force, internally, between succession concerns and civil unrest, the Empire offers itself as paper tiger. The narration is reasonable with a decent range of voices with adequate pacing.

8 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Ben Stubbs
  • 2020-01-29

Weak writing, decent concepts

I picked this book up because some reviewers compared the depth of the fictional world to Dune. Even with tempered expectations I was incredibly disappointed. The characters all breathlessly applaud each other for their very simple, predictable, and barely strategic attempts to navigate their situation; the writing makes me think this book is written for middle-school readers (excepting the liberal use of the word f*ck); the language and even the physical world is riddled with familiarities that undermine the sense of being in a fictional world; the main character's inner monologue comprises most of the book and is basically a repetitive series of "I'm overwhelmed" or "I'm lonely even with these amazing friends." I can't recommend this.

7 people found this helpful

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  • Judit Noyes
  • 2020-05-30

Couldn’t handle the narrator

After chapter five I called me local independent bookstore who was doing curbside pick up during COVID days. I just couldn’t stand the narrator. She made the ambassador to the empire sound like a twenty something valley girl. The cadence and intonation were so annoying that I couldn’t focus on the book. After reading the hard copy I found the story okay. Not as good as Ann Leckie or N K Jemison but worth reading.

5 people found this helpful

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  • Mitch
  • 2020-05-29

I dislike writing negative reviews...

Lots of potential... but the breaks in continuity/logical failings... just too much. Not to mention the fact that the entire premise is just not possible! Can’t recommend... Spoilers follow. 1. The thing that the all powerful emperor wants lies in state for THREE MONTHS while multiple additional nearly all powerful people also know and NO ONE DOES ANYTHING TO TAKE IT?!? 2. The old but perfect and unfailingly brilliant Emperor, for no good reason other than to set conditions for an unnecessary civil war, named three co-heirs... 3. The super secret not-a-McGuffin McGuffin which is the basis for an entire stations culture, who sends ambassadors to the all powerful super empire right next door, is able to keep a secret... except their ambassadors start telling the secret basically with everyone within a day of arriving... but that’s ok, because the previous ambassador had already spilled the beans while sleeping with BOtH of the two most powerful people in the empire... but finding not enough time to actually explain how the thing works/doesn’t work... despite the fact that our current protagonist is able to convince those same two people in like three sentences each... 4. You don’t send people to be ambassadors to THE empire right out of college as your first freaking assignment. And they don’t go alone! Even with freaking computer ghosts in their heads! BUT even if you did, you would have instructions! Goals! Purpose! And freaking established codes based on something way better than the dictionary! 5. The super city... can’t go anywhere or do anything unseen. Can’t even open a door without a citizen and their face cellphone (cloud hook)... except every single time. Including wandering around the freaking palace, right into the emperor’s private garden! I could go on... the super police that make storm troopers look competent... they didn’t even have to say “these aren’t the droids you are looking for...” Oh and the mysterious aliens that haven’t done much but have to be an exestential crisis to the whole empire if not the human race... but that spends months or years not really doing anything all that bad? But just mentioning it results in an emperor’s sacrificial suicide... but doesn’t result in a single order to gather the fleets to defeat the mongol hordes? I mean it would have taken ONE sentence! I really wanted to give the whole thing one star... it’s that bad. Oh, the freaking naming?!? and the “poetry”... ugh. Is zero stars a thing? But some of the characters were interesting (even if no one and I mean NONE of the characters acted in any way believable or consistent)... so I didn’t HATE it... so two stars over all. For those Sword and Laser readers... I voted against this one in the March Madness thing and was furious when it became a pick... but I read it... ugh... congrats to the author... I couldn’t write this well, but I might make a decent content/continuity editor/reviewer. She needs one.

4 people found this helpful

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  • User
  • 2020-03-13

A whole empire between covers

I was not sure about this one; but it stands up to epic space opera like Ancillary Justice. Do you like strong female leads? Notional space anthropology? Geo/spatial politics? What about evocative imagery? Have you ever thought about where you end and your memory begins, how you know stuff or how much of who you are is tangled in the various glands of your body? Well have I got a book for you...

4 people found this helpful

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  • christian
  • 2020-08-18

A Slog

A Memory Called Empire is a book I can’t wait to forget. The interesting promise of its setting and world-building is undercut by an underwhelming story, underwhelmingly narrated. The author doesn’t seem to capitalize on the most interesting aspects of the setting and plot, but instead drags the reader through unimaginative political bureaucracy. I couldn’t get to the end of this book quick enough. Perhaps a sequel in this same world would pack more of a punch than the original. How this book one a Hugo is beyond my grasp.

3 people found this helpful

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  • B
  • 2020-08-30

no bite

I want this to be better than it is. I think the ideas presented in this book are interesting, although about halfway through it I realized I didn't care about the protagonist.

2 people found this helpful