Arkady Martine: Desolation Called Peace (Paperback, 2022, Pan Macmillan) 4 stars

An alien armada lurks on the edges of Teixcalaanli space. No one can communicate with …

Solid space opera

No rating

I read A Memory Called Empire earlier this year and really enjoyed it. In this sequel, I was curious to see how the author would handle the mysterious aliens, who we previously hadn’t seen on page.

We see this story from multiple points of view. While I liked getting different perspectives, they felt rather contrived in terms of answering questions raised by the previous PoV character. I also felt there was a lot of characters standing around being told (or overhearing) information by other characters. Sometimes I was put in mind of “messenger speeches” in Greek drama, where important events are recounted to the actors (and audience) by a messenger, rather than being played out on stage.

There was a sex scene which… felt unnecessary and didn’t (in my opinion) contribute in any way to the story, and I could have done without as much angst-y interactions. (Or perhaps, since we all have angsty moments, not having them spelled out so explicitly).

That said, I enjoyed the read overall and the interweaving of the narrative viewpoints.