A Memory Called Empire by Arkady Martine is an extremely accomplished first novel that has been described by reviewers as both a brilliant space opera and a gripping political thriller.
Ambassador Mahit Dzmare, representing a small, fiercely-independent mining station, travels to the heart of the vast Teixcalaanli Empire. Regarded as a barbarian by the empire’s citizens, she discovers that the murder of her predecessor is only a small part of a vast Byzantine plot that threatens both the stability of the empire and the independence of her own home. The novel’s plot is a complicated one, but it is so deftly handled that it never sags or becomes overwhelming and the characters are well-rounded.
Balancing both action and intrigue, A Memory Called Empire will appeal to anyone who enjoyed Ann Leckie’s Ancillary series. It is an absorbing study of how empires expand and annex their surroundings through trade and culture, as well as military might, and how societies preserve their history and institutional knowledge.