Book Review: A Desolation Called Peace by Arkady Martine

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Genre : Science-Fiction

Publisher : Tor Books

Length : 496 pages

Format : eARC

Rating : 4 stars

Publication Date: March 2nd 2021


An alien armada lurks on the edges of Teixcalaanli space. No one can communicate with it, no one can destroy it, and Fleet Captain Nine Hibiscus is running out of options.

In a desperate attempt at diplomacy with the mysterious invaders, the fleet captain has sent for a diplomatic envoy. Now Mahit Dzmare and Three Seagrass—still reeling from the recent upheaval in the Empire—face the impossible task of trying to communicate with a hostile entity.

Whether they succeed or fail could change the fate of Teixcalaan forever. 


An alien armada is lurking at the edges of civilized space, threatening both the Teixcalaan Empire and Lsel Station. No one is able to communicate with the alien force and when a planet is completely annihilated by it, the Empire sends one of its best soldiers, Fleet Captain Nine Hibiscus to defend the borders of Teixcalaan. Three Seagrass and Mahit Dzamare again find themselves in the heart of the action and they might be the only ones capable of preventing a war that could destroy the Empire and lead to the death of billions. After all, who’s more suited to negotiate a peace treaty with aliens than a barbarian and a spy?

I read A Memory Called Empire last year and I enjoyed it quite a bit so I was very excited to read the sequel and, A Desolation Called Peace didn’t disappoint. Martine successfully managed to expand the scope of the story and create new fascinating challenges for our characters.

The introduction of new point of views such as Three Seagrass’s, Eight Antidote’s and Nine Hibiscus’s was a very interesting narration choice. It allowed the action to take place both inside and outside the borders of Teixcalaan. I especially liked the parts set on Lsel Station since I wanted to learn more about it after reading first book. I was especially curious to discover Lsel Station outside of Mahit’s biased perception of her home station. In A Desolation, we discover Lsel Station not solely as something barbarian and opposed to Teixcalaan but as its own world with its own culture and history trying to survive and remain independent from the all too powerful Teixcalaan.

The addition of the new point of views was also a great way to paint a broader picture of the world. I particularly enjoyed both the point of view of Eight Antidote, heir apparent to the Empire, and of Captain Nine Hibiscus, Fleet Captain in charge of protecting the Empire against the alien threat. The only perspective that left me a bit underwhelmed was the added point of view of Three Seagrass. Indeed, as much as she was a fantastic side character in the first book, I actually enjoyed her character more when I wasn’t in her head. In A Desolation, she makes several rash decisions that made me care for her less than in the first book. However, I still enjoyed her relationship with Mahit and especially how it allowed the author to bring up interesting points about power dynamic in interracial relationships.

While A Desolation and A Memory have their differences, I can’t say I enjoyed one more than the the other. I liked the slower pace of the first book but I very much enjoyed how Martine expanded the scope of the story in the second book while still addressing the themes of colonization, memory and interconnected identities.

I am definitely looking forward to reading other stories set in the world. Even if A Desolation ended in a satisfying way, Martine left enough loose-threads hanging to write a few more stories set in the world of Teixcalaan and I definitely need more Eight Antidote in my life! 😉

If you liked A Memory Called Empire then you should definitely give A Desoaltion Called Peace a try.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

I received a copy of this book through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. My thanks to Tor and Netgalley for providing me with a review copy.

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