A Desolation Called Peace (Teixcalaan, 2)

By Arkady Martine

Rating: 4 stars

The empire of Teixcalaan is at war with an alien species. Lsel ambassador to Teixcalaan, Mahit Dzmare, has returned home to her station not quite in disgrace, but still finds herself under threat. When Fleet Captain Nine Hibiscus sends back home for someone to try to communicate with the enemy, former attaché Three Seagrass jumps at the opportunity, and she brings Mahit with her, jumping from one frying pan to another as she swaps the politics of her home for that of the fleet.

I didn’t enjoy this book quite as much as I did its predecessor, but there was still a lot to like here. While not musing so much on the siren call of a dominant culture, it looks more at communication, mirroring the way that Mahit and Three Seagrass communicate (or fail to) with the attempts to communicate with the aliens. As well as these two main protagonists, we also have the PoV of Eight Antidote, the heir to the Empire, as he learns about war and politics, back on the homeworld, and what it means to be the future emperor. He’s also an eleven year old child, but he has to grow up a lot and very quickly if he’s going to prevent the war from expanding to fill all the space it can.

The big themes in this book involve not being able to go back home (although more because Mahit wants to avoid having her skull carved up, than for any metaphorical reasons). I think the idea that she has changed enough that she’s rejected by her home would have been a strong strand on its own, without needing the element of physical threat, but maybe that’s just me.

I think maybe the different plots were wrapped up a little too neatly, and too easily by the end of the book, but that’s not something that bothered me as much as it might have done. There’s a solid ending, but also lots of space left open to tell more stories, both about Mahit and Three Seagrass, and also in the wider universe that Martine has created. I’d read them.

Book details

ISBN: 9781529001648

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