A Desolation Called Peace is the sequel to the immensely satisfying A Memory Called Empire. How I describe the series to other people is basically diplomatic science fiction. Once again, we find ourselves with Three Seagrass and Mahit Dzmare in a very complicated situation. This time, it’s not imperial intrigue (well, there is some of that) but an unknown enemy, attacking and devastating imperial colonies.
This novel is quite a bit longer than the first, but I honestly find it difficult to pinpoint something that could be removed. Perhaps the subplot with Eight Antidote, the heir to the Teixcalaanli imperial throne, but I quite liked it. I also liked how he was different than his predecessor (not his father, as he was a clone) and the current emperor. I think there’s also a bit around Mahit and Lsel station, which was nice to wrap up previous plot lines from the first novel, but maybe that didn’t have to be the first 100 pages. However, I also enjoyed learning more about stationer politics, so I’m glad it was still in there.
Anyway, it was very enjoyable. I liked the politics as always, this time with a bit more of Lsel station, but also fleet politics. Most of the story takes place on the capital ship, sent out to figure out what the aliens are. I liked the captain of the fleet, and her second in command quite a bit. They were great characters. I liked the politics between the fleet captain and other parts of the fleet. As well as lots of intrigue from the centre of the empire, reaching out the fleet.
I just like the atmosphere of the whole novel, it’s just well crafted and really enjoyable to read.
My only dislike is at the very end. I know there had to be a wrap up of some sort of this book, with the sabotage of Mahit’s imago (an ancestral memory machine). But I wanted a bit of a happier ending. It wasn’t bad by any sense, but felt that Mahit deserved more. But it wasn’t that kind of book and the ending makes total sense in how it was wrapped up. To be honest, this was duology and it leaves it open for potential more Mahit and Three Seagrass adventures. I’d love that.
There are so many women in the novel as well, LGBT themes, interesting religious cults, weird aliens, lots of philosophical conundrums. All in all, a very excellent sequel.