Read an ARC from NetGalley
Content warning: vomiting, death, attempted genocide
The sequel to A Memory Called Empire picks up right where the previous entry left off: with Mahit Dzmare returning to Lsel Station. However, we are treated to a few new POV characters in the form of Nine Hibiscus and her fleet waging war on aliens they can’t communicate with who fight back with novel weaponry.
Taking a few pages out of Arrival (2016), the second half of Teixcalaan’s story moves away from a single location mystery and brings that political intrigue to space and beyond. As hypnotic as the first and ties up many loose ends in its satisfying conclusion.
I won’t give too much away, but wow does Martine level up the stakes and add more connections to the intricate political web of Teixcalaan. Mahit, Three Seagrass, Eight Antidote, and more return, but we get some insight into the Empire’s military structure. I can’t give away too much, but the way it builds off the entire discussion of identity and immortality through the imago implants is outstanding. Most of my binge-reading of this one was looking for how all the threads connect. And also how the new invaders play into the incredible foundation. I won’t go into specifics, but it is so satisfying when you get there.
The depiction of Mahit communicating with two Yskanders also feels very compelling to me. The way thoughts flowed between dialogue and interior only further engulfs the reader in the dreaminess of this otherwise heavy narrative about the cost of Empire. Her chemistry with Three Seagrass is the same delight as it was in the book before. I just love them so much, between the seamless cultural exchanges, banter, and flirting, every moment they spend together soothes the tension of the disaster afoot.
Eight Antidote is such a fantastic addition to the points of view. A bit precocious, but I found myself wanting to protect him until the very end. Even though some characters didn’t interact for much of the book, it all feels coherent. Form meets function. Oh, and the title, I think, hints at the ethical core of the book. Martine really nails the landing with this one, and I can’t wait to see what she’ll bring next.