Book Review: A Desolation Called Peace by Arkady Martine (three stars)

Book Review: A Desolation Called Peace (Teixcalaan #2) by Arkady Martine (three stars)

Let’s see if interested means “would like me safely dead,” as usual.

Continues Martine’s inventive space opera with allies one can’t trust adding first contact with an unknowable foe. Multiple points of view intrigue and baffle unwary readers. As with A Memory Called Empire, the improbable outcome everyone expects morphs into the impossible outcome no one desires. Well done.

“Who wouldn’t want to be involved in a first-contact scenario?”
“Nearly everyone who has ever been near an alien.”

New characters mix with holdovers from Memory to expand the horizons of the story. The stakes are appropriately higher.

“If he does it … and he’s right, and he lives—then he’ll have achieved a kind of first-contact negotiation no Teixcalaanlitzlim has ever managed.” “… Are you jealous?” “I’m not brave enough to be jealous.”

Lost at least a star for one gratuitous, graphic sex scene. Unnecessary to either plot or character development, it cheapens the story into rank pornography. The scene in question could have stopped after the initial kiss and ruminations by the point of view character then restarted in next chapter’s post-coital tangle of limbs with no loss. Overuse of the f-word too.

She didn’t exactly want him to be careful. Didn’t want, herself, to be careful. Only to win. She wished she knew what winning would look like.