A Memory Called Empire by Arkady Martine
Young Mahit Dzmare, fond of the poetry and epics of the vast Teixcalaanli empire, is the new ambassador from Lsel, a space station. She has just begun exploring the outdated memories of the former ambassador, Yskandr, when her neural implant malfunctions. Her liaison, Three Seagrass and Twelve Azalea, Seagrass’s friend, are the only Teixcalaanli she can rely on, and perhaps trust. Mahit must find out Yksandr’s fate and if recent dangerous accidents are connected and aimed at her. After Mahit meets the elderly emperor Six Direction she receives an encrypted message from Lsel with implications almost as powerful as the poetry that can rescue Mahit, Three Seagrass, and Twelve Azalea from a riot and kidnapping. With excellent world-building and an ever-intensifying pace, this is an absorbing read that’s perfect for right now; and a good readalike for Foreigner by C.J. Cherryh, The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison, Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie, and the very entertaining Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance by Lois McMaster Bujold. Mahit is viewed as a barbarian by the Teixcalaanli, but some aspects of their culture shock her. A thought provoking read, this novel is nominated for the upcoming Hugo and Nebula Awards, and the ebook is available from Media on Demand/Libby. A second book, A Desolation Called Peace, will be published next March.