cover image A Desolation Called Peace

A Desolation Called Peace

Arkady Martine. Tor, $26.99 (496p) ISBN 978-1-250-18646-1

Martine spins a dizzying, exhilarating story of diplomacy, conspiracy, and first contact in the powerhouse sequel to her Hugo Award–winning debut, A Memory Called Empire. Mahit Dzmare has returned home to Lsel station after a brief, eventful stint as ambassador to the empire of Teixcalaan, but now Teixcalaanli warships are moving into formation against the terrifying aliens that live beyond a nearby jumpgate. When Nine Hibiscus, the leader of the warships, requests a trained diplomat to aid in alien relations and avoid conflict, Mahit’s former liaison and love interest, Three Seagrass, assigns herself the job—and drags Mahit along with her. But there are factions on Lsel and in Teixcalaan who would benefit from an endless war and who work to undermine their negotiations. Martine effortlessly balances several points of view—including the idealistic 11-year-old imperial heir, Eight Antidote—to provide a vivid window into a struggle over the question of who gets to be counted as a person. Martine’s aliens are viscerally unsettling and utterly believable, and she deploys them masterfully to underscore themes of colonization, assimilation, and cultural violence. This complex, stunning space opera promises to reshape the genre. Agent: DongWon Song, Howard Morhaim Literary. (Mar.)