Audiobooks, ratings, reviews (beta)

Teixcalaan Series


an Aztec mask

Author: Arkady Martine –

Publisher: Tor –

Genre: Science-Fiction –

Overall rating: 4/5 –

Writing: 5/5 –

Duration: 15:37 (A Memory Called Empire), 17:32 (A Desolation Called Peace) (very long) –

Narrator: Amy Landon –

Narrator/performance: 4/5 –

Impressions: 4/5 –

Performance errors: 0/5 –

Complexity/reading level: 2/5 –

Audience: General


This review so far refers to the first two books in the series (A Memory Called Empire, 2019; A Desolation Called Peace, 2021). With the first part, Arkady Martine won the 2020 Hugo Award for Best Novel.

It is a highly original production, full of humor and imagination. Its pace reminds of Japanese entertainment for young adults. It is also quite modern in its approach to sexuality, with a strong LGBTQ+ and feminist representation. Women engage in diplomacy, they are able to bravely withstand all kinds of aggression and cunning – yet they remain feminine. There are also those curious references to historical cultures (predominantly Byzantine and Aztec, if I understand correctly, see here for more detail).

My main pleasure in these books was the scale and, somehow, air. Arkady Martine is especially skillful at conveying the impression of grandeur and space, being able to paint expanses which are otherwise hard to imagine. The space is so large, sparkling and shiny that taking anything too seriously becomes absurd. The main characters seem to be making rather strange choices. They would refer to poetry when in need of… anything really. When in doubt, they would enjoy plant life and flowers. When asked for religion, they would either think about self sacrifice for honor or self sacrifice for balance… Just these simple references should make you curious. These books are beautiful, smart and, if I am allowed to judge, rather cool.

I liked the narration style. Amy Landon was able to read all that poetry in a way that did not remind me of theatricality. The reading style was pleasant, refreshing, dynamic and elegant.

A Memory Called Empire, Arkady Martine cover
A Desolation Called Peace, Arkady Martine cover

I think that covers were able to show a little bit of that “space” I refer to above. They show small figures in enormous rooms, or something like rooms, possibly some kind of enclosure. There is the opulence associated with an empire but combined with a kind of personal modesty or practicality, characteristic of a wise rule… These books are likely to be the source of inspiration for many years to come.

Cover Photo by Bruno Guerrero on Unsplash