A Memory Called Empire

A Memory Called Empire

Book - 2019 | First edition
Average Rating:
Rate this:
"During a time of political instability in the highest echelons of the imperial court, 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. 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"--Publisher.
Publisher: New York : Tor, 2019
Edition: First edition
Copyright Date: ©2019
ISBN: 9781250186430
Call Number: SF MARTINE 2019
Characteristics: 462 pages ; 22 cm


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment
Jun 27, 2020

This was a very solid 4 stars for me up until the perfect, powerful ending that tipped it up to 4.5. Absolutely a phenomenal book, recommended to those who enjoy intrigue, political theater and in-depth world-building. As a comparison to similar authors, I was reminded of Vernor Vinge, especially A Deepness In The Sky, and also of Ann Leckie.

Jun 23, 2020

A Memory Called Empire is an impressive debut novel well deserving of its Hugo and Nebula nominations. What stands out is the complex diplomatic maneuvering, which forms the basis for the plot, carried out in a richly detailed culture created by the author. The characters are multi-dimensional, their verbal sparring animated with nuance and wit and poetry. The Teixcalaanli Empire rules a sector of the universe and exports its culture to the conquered and still free nations. As rival political factions mobilize, the emperor is dying and the new ambassador from the not-yet-annexed mining station arrives in the empire’s subtropical city world (I kept imagining it looked like Singapore) to replace her predecessor who has died under suspicious circumstances. At the end of the book there is a glossary and a review of the Teixcalaanli language. Much thought has gone into creating this universe. I particularly loved the naming convention for people in the Teixcalaanli world: a number followed by a word from nature or craft or tool: Three Seagrass, Nineteen Adze, Eight Antidote. (What name would you pick?!) There is an upcoming sequel.

IndyPL_CarriG May 31, 2020

Loved this work of political science fiction and excited about learning more about the universe it's set in. Martine has obviously put a lot of thought into building this world, and I feel confident she could spend her career writing books set in it. This particular political mystery introduces two very different and fascinating cultures, and one ambassador who is thrust from one to the other with little warning or preparation. The characters are well-drawn and the world-building is unique and believable. I can't wait to read the next one!

Hillsboro_RobP May 10, 2020

Humans are aliens among ourselves in a political sci-fi culture clash with a high-minded mystery at its heart.
The plot is excellent, if a bit simple, but the bulk of the creativity is spent on the science fiction technology and culture conceits that define why each moment carries weight to the characters. Although I enjoyed the characters, the book's sheer density makes it hard to absorb in small chunks. This is a novel to sit and read a few hours at a time. The author's descriptions aren't usually of the physical surroundings, but instead the introspection of Mahit's thoughts and an cultural or linguistic explanation of significance. Martine sticks the landing in the end.

For fans of intellectual sci-fi, EmbassyTown, Dune, detailed world-building and the politics of empire.

Mar 31, 2020

2020 Nebula Awards nominee and available on e-book through overdrive!

Dec 02, 2019

via reddit

Sep 25, 2019

An average debut novel. You will find enough intrigue to keep you reading if you pick this up, however,your not going to find yourself waiting in anticipation for the obvious series of novels this is meant to proceed. The Plot lacks depth and novelty typical of the genre and the romance, though believable, could have been slightly more PG.

JessicaGma Sep 11, 2019

This book delivered on its hype - my goodness, this was a great murder mystery but also a taut space opera with much political machinations (which of course also play into the murder). This was a great read after a string of so-so books.

alburke47 Jul 14, 2019

Mahit Dzmare is the new new ambassador to the Teixcalaan Empire. The problem is, her predecessor is dead, and that’s the least of her worries. She hails from Lsel, a space station and trader with the Empire. Lsel lives in constant fear of annexation, and sent the original ambassador to stave off any desires Teixcallan has of adding Lsel to their pile. But first Mahit needs to find out what happened to her predecessor and ingratiate herself with the people of Teixcalaan.
Let’s start with the world-building here, as it is quite unique. There isn’t a whole lot about Mahit’s home, but their technology is quite impressive. They have created an “imago,” a device that attaches to the spinal cord and records every incidence of a person’s life, in particular their skills. This is useful when one lives in deep space. Instead of rookie pilots, an imago of a dead pilot is attached and all their skills and knowledge is shared. The added value is one can have lines of pilots dating back 20 generations. This is kept secret from other cultures though, especially Teixcalaan, who claim such devices are immoral, but would likely jump at the opportunity to get their hands on one. Mahit’s problem is that while she has an imago of her predecessor, it’s fifteen years old as he hasn’t returned in that time period, and there was no opportunity to record a newer one. Now Mahit must manoeuver her way through complex Teixcalaan politics (and it is complex), with nothing but some outdated information as a guide.
The Teixcalaan homeworld where she must go is a planet wide city (a more attractive version of Coruscant), where the people consider themselves a step above the “barbarians” from the outerworlds. The city is run by a singular AI which controls much of daily life, while the inhabitants seem to be focused on either politics or poetry, both of which play a major role in the story. Mahit has trained her whole life to be here, but she still feels out of her depth while trying to make any headway on her mission. Luckily she has a liason, Three Seagrass, who helps her negotiate the shark-infested political waters, and their developing relationship is one of the strengths of the book.
That’s basically it in a nutshell, but there is a lot more to the book than I could possible bang out in 500 or so words. I really enjoyed it. It’s rather different to almost anything else you will read, with little actual action, but instead plenty of wordplay and political machination. I bet you will not see the ending coming. Be warned though, it is quite a slow burn, and I feel like I spent an inordinate amount time reading it (and checking the definitions of words relating to poetry). If you want a quick read, look elsewhere. If you want a slow but satisfying science-fiction-politically-driven-murder-mystery-with-some-cool-tech, then this could be the book for you.

4 out of 5 stars

Apr 23, 2019

So far, this is my favorite book of 2019.

View All Comments


Add Age Suitability

There are no ages for this title yet.


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.


Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number


Subject Headings


Find it at MCL

To Top