A Memory Called Empire

Hardcover, 464 pages

Published March 26, 2019 by Tor Books.

OCLC Number:

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4 stars (6 reviews)

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.

5 editions

An absolute joy

5 stars

I'm so pleased with A Memory Called Empire. It's rare to have a pairing of both a really rich, engrossing world and characters that I cared about so much. It felt like not a decision or phrasing was done without careful consideration. I could feel the pull Mahit felt between her home and the empire, and her exhaustion as the book stretched on. An absolute force and I can't wait to read the next one.

The slow-burning love-child of House of Cards and The Expanse

4 stars

If I'm honest I first picked up this book because of the image on the cover but once I picked up the book I remained interested and the aesthetic remained pretty cool throughout and gave me vibes from the "Coup" and "The Resistance" board games.

The book really focuses in a lot on the political manoeuvrers of the central character Mahit and her allies (and enemies). There's a fair amount of political theatre and description of Mahit's internal monologue which reminded me of House of Cards. The world building meant that the plot does take a little while to really get going but once it does get going, there's a fair amount to be excited about. The last few chapters were pretty gripping and more reminiscent of something like The Expanse.

There is a lot of description of the culture and language used in the Teixcalaanli Empire which for me, …

Politics and spaceships

4 stars

What if, the Federation wasn't this big happy family and the humans weren't in charge but were only some minor part of some larger alien empire?

I enjoyed this book, it has a lot of politics; if you found the scenes in The Expanse around the earth parliament annoying, this book is not for you.

It also explains in an entertaining way how tricky being a Galatic Empire is, even (or perhaps because) you have the ships with the Big Guns.

It was entertaining

No rating

I experienced this as an enjoyable palace intrigue like some other reviewers, but I didn't really find it particularly insightful on "assimilation and language and the seduction and horror of empire" (quote taken from the author's acknowledgments section). It's an interesting world and I'm looking forward to reading the sequel, but I can't say my mind was blown.

Fun political intrigue

4 stars

I quite enjoyed this book! A fun narrative about a young diplomat from a remote space station who finds herself appointed ambassador to a Big Evil Empire. The book takes place in the imperial capital and thematically does the whole "man, giant empires really do suck a lot" thing, and does it well. The one Big Weird Sci Fi idea (basically multiple people cohabiting in one brain) is pretty cool and also the author manages to portray it without being offensive to people with, say, dissociative identity disorder. I feel like it dragged a bit at the end and sort of fizzled out, and ultimately I found myself reading a book set on the main character's home space station than at the heart of this big scary empire. I live in a big scary empire so it all seemed pretty standard to me. Still, totally recommend the read.