A Memory Called Empire by Arkady Martine
Reviewed by GGGinny
What I drank: hard seltzer. Going back to basics BABY! ‘Twas a long week before a lazy weekend and I just wanted something easy to go along with my life.
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.
Drunk Overview: Mehit Dismar is the new ambassador to the overwhelmingly large and inspriingly named “Empire.” She’s equipped with a computerized version of her predecessor that is 15 years out of date and has no idea what kind of shit situation she’s about to get into. She’s given a PA and then has to deal with assassination attempts, learning about what her predecessor had done, a quasi-kidnapping and more.
- I’ gonna be honest, it’s been a bit since I read this book. So I don’t remember everything but there are certain things that are drilled into my head.
- First off, I listened to this as an audiobook, which I think is why I didn’t mind that the entire book was political machinations. That and while the main character was really smart, she wasn’t preternaturally intelligent. But I think it was mostly the format. I tend to kind of zone out on occasion while listening to a book, but I managed to pick up with I needed.
- The PA, Three Seagrass, was great! Super snarky and smart, and the way the book balanced her loyalties was really interesting. I also really enjoyed 12 Azalea was also fantastic comedic relief.
- The bickering between these two reminded me in the best way of siblings. They;ve known each other forever and had inside jokes and, ugh, I want to see friendships like this in every book.
- Also the low key spy thriler aspects of this were charming and ridiculous.
- The technology in this book was also really interesting. It felt like a lot of it were things that could exist in 5 to 10 years, which also brings up the danger of our constant reliance on technology in so many aspects of our lives. The “google glass” system malfunctioned, the brain computer could have issues (not a spoiler, this happens in like chapter 2).
- But really, I think a lot of the reason taht I liked this book came down to the main character.
- As I mentioned, the political machinations books don’t really do it for me. But Mehit Dismar had a great sense of humor, talked through a number of philosophical points where the various technologies were concerned, and just in general, felt so much more real to me than other books I’ve read.
- The plot was what it was. I though the twists and turns worked better in this book due to Dismar’s fractured knowledge (due to the broken brain computer), and when she finally gets more information, it was a delight to see how all of the puzzle pieces worked.
- Oh, I didn’t mention this but Dismar is from a small mining colony far away that didn’t seem to have too much importance.
- And yet, there’s a greater threat coming (also not a spoiler, it’s mentioned in what is basically the intro to the book), which is what makes Dismar important.
- I think the ending was a little bit obvious (at least in the 100 pages that led up to it, or so). I struggle a little bit in a book like this with foreshadowing, when I recognize what is going to happen, but the super smart, very suspicious characters don’t. I liked the twist and you needed the characters unaware for it to work…. I just struggle with that kind of thing in a book where everyone thinks there are 10 different plans per person to do something somehow doesn’t notice the obvious plot…
What I’d Pair it With: IPA. This book is complicated and you have to really think about it in order to enjoy it.
Rating: 3.5/5. Like I said, I have some conflicting emotions, but it was a good read, and I will probably keep an eye out for the sequel