A Memory Called Empire (Teixcalaan #1) – Arkady Martine

a memory called empire
three stars black
Genre: Science Fiction
Publisher: Tor Books
Pages: 464
Release Date: March 26, 2019

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.

A Memory Called Empire has such an interesting and intriguing synopsis, which is why I requested it from Netgalley. Unfortunately, it fell short.

The biggest issue I had with A Memory Called Empire is its writing. Martine’s writing isn’t engaging making the novel read as boring despite the interesting world and culture the author has built. There were countless moments that I felt disinterested in the novel despite an unfolding action sequence or exciting political intrigue.

The reason I rated A Memory Called Empire three stars instead of two is because the culture Martine has created with the Teixcalaanli Empire. The Teixcalaanli Empire’s language and culture is rooted in poetry and literature. It’s a very complex language system that Martine explains carefully through the main character, Mahit. The unfolding of this society is easily the best part of the novel.

This is more of a personal gripe I had with a plot point than real criticism, but I still think it’s worth mentioning. Without going into spoiler territory, Martine decides to withdraw the deadly technological secret, mentioned in the synopsis, at the beginning of the novel. I wish she had left it throughout the story since it would have added more to Mahit as a character, the world building, and culture differences between the Teixcalaanli Empire and Mahit’s native culture.

Overall, A Memory Called Empire has all the trappings of an intriguing and fast paced political sci-fi, but falls flat in its execution. Culture, assimilation, and acculturation are at the heart of this novel making A Memory Called Empire a poignant read for those struggling with where they fit in with society.

***I received an ARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.


Have you read A Memory Called Empire? What did you think?

8 thoughts on “A Memory Called Empire (Teixcalaan #1) – Arkady Martine

  1. I’m about halfway through and I have the exact same problem you did. There are moments when i think I’m really getting into the story, but then the writing takes me out of it again. I feel like a more flowery style of writing would have maybe suited the world better?

    1. I think I may hold back on requesting science fiction novels for a bit or at least wait until there are more reviews since I feel like the few that I’ve read recently I didn’t enjoy.
      So much potential. Oh well.

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