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A Memory Called Empire

(Teixcalaan #1)

4.23  ·  Rating details ·  2,806 ratings  ·  579 reviews
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 ...more
Paperback, 462 pages
Published March 2019 by Tor
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Kai Yes, but it is primarily a fish-out-of-water story, so if you want a focus on romance, you probably won't find that here. If you're avoiding romance,…moreYes, but it is primarily a fish-out-of-water story, so if you want a focus on romance, you probably won't find that here. If you're avoiding romance, you won't be hit with too much of it, although this is politics and relationships permeate everything.(less)

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4.23  · 
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 ·  2,806 ratings  ·  579 reviews

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Dec 03, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
ARC provided by the publisher—Tor Books—in exchange for an honest review.

Easily one of the cleverest sci-fi debuts I’ve read so far.

A Memory Called Empire is Arkady Martine’s debut novel and the first installment in the Teixcalaan series. Ambassador Mahit Dzmare arrives in Teixcalaan only to find out that the previous ambassador from the same mining station as hers has died. Contrary to her belief, nobody wants to admit that his death wasn’t an accident, and now it’s up to Mahit to uncover who’s
May 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of sci-fi mysteries and space operas
With reservations.

What do you mean, what do I mean? There's something about it--as good, as inclusive, as remarkable as it is--that just fails to miss me. Possibly it's the empire-building genre. At any rate, this is probably what Alastair Reynolds was going for in The Prefect, only this was so much more tightly plotted, with better characterization, that it was far more satisfying. Perhaps my reservations are due to lingering disaffection, because Martine does exactly what I expected from Reyno
Jun 20, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It has a slow at the start with the pace and world building then gets better as you go. Emphasis is own political intrigue in the Empire rather than action and thrills.
Niki Hawkes - The Obsessive Bookseller
[2.5/5 stars] I have to take a moment to explain how excited I was to dive into this book. I was expecting rich culture, a complex plotline, and fascinating characters. And while I think all those components made an appearance, they weren’t nearly as amped up as I was hoping they’d be.

In fact, 85% of the story was pure dialogue and explanations. It TOLD me about this cool alien world and society, but it often neglected to SHOW me. And that feels like a colossal opportunity wasted. Incidentally,
Mar 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Ambassador Mahit Dzmare, the protagonist of Arkady Martine’s debut space opera A Memory Called Empire, has more than one identity crisis on her hands: she has a deep affinity for the empire that wants to annex her home and she also literally has someone else’s personality nested in her brain. Dzmare’s internal conflicts correlate with the external ones that drive the novel’s plot. Living within the Teixcalaan Empire has been her heart’s desire since childhood, yet her primary aim as ambassador i ...more
Elizabeth Bear
Feb 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
An exceptional first novel recommended for fans of Cherryh, Leckie, Banks, and Asimov.
A Memory Called Empire is a political sci-fi novel with a main f/f romance, the best court intrigue I've read in months if not ever, and plot twists I didn't see coming.
It's set in a space empire in which straight isn't the default, most of the cast is queer, and the worldbuilding is complex but never confusing - everything I've ever wanted.

And yet it's so much more. I knew this would be an intense read for me right from the dedication, because this book is dedicated to anyone who has ever fall
Jun 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
This was something of a slow starter for me. I enjoyed the empire that ran on poetry aspect quite a bit. The standard book of poetical encryptions, the multilayered pride, and subversions built right into the language.

However, I've read a ton of murder-mysteries built into SF worlds so the core of the tale was something of a no-brainer and followed all the conventions. Welcome a stranger, an ambassador for a tiny space-station ensconced in a huge, huge empire, have her replace her murdered coun
I'm super disappointed to be giving this only three stars (no three stars isn't bad- I'd just much rather give it four or five). I'm beginning to question whether it's me or the books.

I guess I'll start at the beginning. One of the first pages said something along the lines of: "This is for all those who have ever fallen in love with a culture that was not their own."

That one line pretty much sums up the whole book. Mahit (our MC) has spent her whole life training to be an ambassador from her h
Nov 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
An intricate, layered tale of empire, personal ambition, political obligations and interstellar intrigue. Vivid and delightfully inventive.
Nick T. Borrelli
May 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
Over the past thousand years or so the Teixcalaanli Empire has been gradually swallowing up smaller planets and outposts to add to its vastly growing domain, often with no care with regard to the free people now being forced to bend the knee. You see, The Empire considers itself to be the height of superior intellect, artistic achievement, ethics, and overall culture. So when the small independent mining station Lsel is contacted by The Empire to supply another ambassador because the current one ...more
"A Memory Called Empire" is a densely-packed, detailed story of interstellar palace intrigue. Those expecting shoot-em-up action need to slow it down a little here. It's a very thick story that takes a while to be fully revealed. One of the central themes is past lives memory in the form of imago machines much like the past lives of Frank Herbert's Bene Gesserits and often a struggle for mind domination with a ghost from the past. Other themes involve how a minority culture on a distant frontier ...more
Cathy (cathepsut)
Jan 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2019
Very, very good. Great concepts, excellent character development, great dialogues, humour, emotional depth...

“Ambassador Dzmare,“ he said, „welcome to the Jewel of the World. A pleasure.“

Mahit, a very green-behind-the-ears ambassador, comes to the capital of the empire that might have designs on her home, Lsel Station. This is what she yearned for, but it‘s not entirely what it was supposed to be. And things don‘t go as planned.

After the first two chapters this made me think of Ann Leckie‘s Impe
This book was wonderful! I can also see why it's compared to some of C.J. Cherryh's work, such as her atevi society in the Foreigner series, which ran on tea. Copious amounts of it. The Teixcalaan Empire of this book runs on poetry. Copious amounts of it.
Mahit Dmzare has been training at Lsel Station to be an ambassador to the Teixcalaan Empre, when she's told the Empire has requested a replacement for their existing Lsel ambassador, Yskandr. When she arrives at the City, the main city of the em
Jon Adams
Apr 22, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is an excellent debut. The plot progression was a bit slow for a lot of the book, but the characters were fascinating and the writing was on point.

It states that this is book 1 but it could easily be read as a stand-alone. She leaves just enough hanging out there to make you want to pick up the next book, but ties up most plot points.
Allison Hurd
Time of death: 62%

I'm sorry, I'm skimming more and more and it's just not worth forcing myself to finish another book I can't enjoy.

What I was initially struck with was how much I respected the author--she seems educated, kind, fond of wit and justice, and I admire those things. Unfortunately, this book was largely misrepresented to me, and by the time I adjusted to the accurate genre, it was clear that it had none of the elements I enjoy in that sphere.

-A political thriller not a space opera.
May 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019-read
4.5 stars

Multilayered, creative, and finely written, all the more impressive when considering this is a debut novel. Basically all the hype is both true and well-deserved.

Interestingly, while I was reading this the writing style kept reminding me of Vivian Shaw. Strange Practice is a completely different story, in a different genre, but has a similarly comfortable and personal narrative style. It turns out Vivian Shaw is Arkady Martine's partner!

Although this book can be read as a standalone, t
Apr 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: science-fiction
One of my favorite plots in science fiction is the stranger in a strange land, where we follow an individual from a culture as they are immersed in a different culture. Our stranger is Ambassador Mahit Dzmare of Lsel Station, a small independent culture based around space stations and asteroid mining. The strange land is the capitol of the Teixcalaan Empire, a sprawling cultural and military monstrosity of an empire that dominates human space and grows through conquest and annexation. There are ...more

I'm so sorry you all have to wait until March. I cannot begin to tell you how MUCH there is in this book. Philosophy, poetry, politics, ethics, mystery, language, literary heritage, HERITAGE, LEGACY. LEGACY. AND WHAT IT ALL MEANS. I CAN'T GET ENOUGH.

I want to talk about the politics of the self and the ethics of legacy. The poetry of heritage. I WANT TO WRITE ESS
Apr 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
What a debut! This is definitely political sci-fi. Some of the choices Mahit made at the end really surprised me 😊😊. The writing, world building, character development, and political intrigue were amazing! The f/f relationship felt organic and it was such a slow burn. Loved it! This read like a standalone so I am curious to see what the next book will be about.
Peter Tillman
So, the best introduction to this wonderful book is the author interview at NPR:

Galactic empires have a long pedigree in SF. The world-city capitol of Teixcalaan will remind old-timers of of Asimov’s Trantor. But Martine’s iteration has some fresh twists. New ambassador Mahit Dzmare is shoved into deep water on her first assignment, a fate that will resonate with anyone who’s found themselves thrust into a new job in a new country….

Aside from the better
Apr 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is amazing! Gary's review is the one to read ( ).

This fits well in the grand tradition of culturally-focused scifi, and I loved the implicit and explicit exploration of how humans will be different growing up in a space station culture threatened with physical (and cultural!) assimilation from a large neighboring empire. And the idea of a star-spanning empire based on poetry and intrigue tickles me too!

The plot is propulsive, the characters devi
With all due respect to other authors debuting in 2019: A Memory Called Empire is the belle of the debutante ball this year. Its rich worldbuilding, layered characterization, and philosophical musing on identity and nation is absolutely marvelous; it rests at the Lagrange point between Aliette de Bodard’s Xuya universe and Katherine Addison’s The Goblin Emperor - multicultural galactic politics full of poetry and intrigue, centered on a deeply sympathetic protagonist who’s not as out of their de ...more
Mahit Dzmare is the new ambassador to the Teixcalaan empire's home planet, known as City. She comes from a planetary system that hasn't been annexed by the Empire, although that could well change in the near future. She carries at the base of her skull a memory unit called an imago, that houses some of the memories of her ambassadorial predecessor. Along with her ambassadorial duties, Mahit has to make sure this imago technology is kept secret from the Empire.

That secret isn't much of a secret f
Apr 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Don’t you just love it when you find a novel that you hadn’t heard of, totally unexpected, that turns out to be an excellent read?

Comparisons to Cherryh’s Foreigner series, as well as Leckie’s Imperial Radch, will of course abound, and yes, diplomacy, politics, and linguistics have an important role in this book, but the treatment of these themes is different. Martine has her own style, which is great. The world she creates is complex, multi-layered, and ever so fascinating! Two cultures, widely
May 10, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ebooks, sci-fi, arcs
A Memory Called Empire is an excellent book, without a shadow of a doubt. There was such depth to the worldbuilding, the characters, the languages, the poetry, the history. Teixcalaan and Lsel Station and everything and everyone in-between felt real rather than imagined.

Full review to come!
Jun 10, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: scifi-club-read
Like so many other reviewers, I was excited about this book and am still excited about the world and many of the ideas. I was much less excited about the story. Unless you like political tension there wasn't much else to be found. There were some brief periods of fun bombings and whatnot but the rest never lived up to what I kept hoping it would. My expectations weren't external via reviews, word of mouth but internal because the world is extremely interesting, the story didn't live up to it.
Sherwood Smith
It I had known that I would only get four chapters in this NetGalley "ARC" I would not have volunteered for it, as I really dislike reading part of a book, especially if one is obliged to review it without seeing the whole. Four chapters is usually mostly setup.

And so it is here. We're introduced to what promises to be a vast space opera universe as a (relatively) young diplomat, Mahit Dzmare, is sent to the enigmatic and culturally complex Teixcalaan as an ambassador from her home station. She'
Jun 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
5 stars until the ending, which didn't strike quite the right note for me. Overall: rich, complex, and immersive political intrigue set within a beautifully imagined culture. A Memory Called Empire is nominally science fiction, as an interplanetary empire is key to the setup, but its interests are much more speculative cultural anthropology than science.

As an American anglophile who spent a couple years living in the UK, I can relate to ambassador Mahit Dzmare's complex feelings about her assig
Hélène Louise
I enjoyed reading this book very much (a 4,5 * read for me) but can’t say that I would blindly recommend it to any reader. Or more precisely, I know that I wouldn’t recommend it to all science-fiction readers while I would recommend it to some other kind of readers, those who appreciate some kind of literate, subtil, slow, detailed stories (like Guy Gavriel Kay maybe, and of course Ann Leckie’s books).

One of the aspects which sounded somewhat of key for me was that the story could easily have be
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SciFi and Fantasy...: "A Memory Called Empire" Discuss Everything *Spoilers* 61 109 Jul 11, 2019 07:17AM  
The Read-Along: Chapter One 1 4 May 31, 2019 01:44PM  

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“You pump the dead full of chemicals and refuse to let anything rot—people or ideas or … or bad poetry, of which there is in fact some, even in perfectly metrical verse,” said Mahit. “Forgive me if I disagree with you on emulation. Teixcalaan is all about emulating what should already be dead.” “Are you Yskandr, or are you Mahit?” Three Seagrass asked, and that did seem to be the crux of it: Was she Yskandr, without him? Was there even such a thing as Mahit Dzmare, in the context of a Teixcalaanli city, a Teixcalaanli language, Teixcalaanli politics infecting her all through, like an imago she wasn’t suited for, tendrils of memory and experience growing into her like the infiltrates of some fast-growing fungus.” 1 likes
“I could have told her the truth,” Mahit said. “Here I am, new to the City, being led astray by my own cultural liaison and a stray courtier.” Twelve Azalea folded his hands together in front of his chest. “We could have told her the truth,” he said. “Her friend, the dead Ambassador, has mysterious and probably illegal neurological implants.” “How nice for us, that everyone lies,” Three Seagrass said cheerfully.” 1 likes
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