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Publisher's Summary

Winner of the 2020 Hugo Award for Best Novel
A Locus, and Nebula Award nominee for 2019
A Best Book of 2019: Library Journal, Polygon, Den of Geek
An NPR Favorite Book of 2019
A Guardian Best Science Fiction and Fantasy Book of 2019 and “Not the Booker Prize” Nominee
A Goodreads Biggest SFF Book of 2019 and Goodreads Choice Awards Nominee 

"A Memory Called Empire perfectly balances action and intrigue with matters of empire and identity. All around brilliant space opera, I absolutely love it." (Ann Leckie, author of Ancillary Justice)

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 the imperial court.  

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.  

A fascinating space-opera debut, Arkady Martine's A Memory Called Empire is an interstellar mystery adventure.

"The most thrilling ride ever. This book has everything I love." (Charlie Jane Anders, author of All the Birds in the Sky)

©2019 AnnaLinden Weller (P)2019 Macmillan Audio

What listeners say about A Memory Called Empire

Average Customer Ratings
Overall
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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Story is great, weird editing, not great narration

I love the story but ended up buying the actual book, which I'm going to read myself.

The narrator tries to do accents to differentiate the characters but a) seems to have trouble remembering what she was using for which character so sometimes it's hard to tell who's supposed to be speaking and b) made some Choices that had me scratching my head. The drunk guy as Irish? Really? Nineteen Adze as British? I mean, I guess Britain was a colonial power but that just doesn't seem like a great choice for this particular book given that Teixcalaan is deliberately modeled a non-western colonial culture.

Also this is all from Mahit's point of view but the narrator flattens her affect anytime she's not doing dialogue so it comes across as very flat and deliberate. Which might work for something from an omniscient POV but it doesn't here where you're supposed to be in Mahit's head, where she's having EMOTIONS. Anyway, I'm not going to finish listening to this because now I have a paper copy of the book and I keep getting distracted from the story by how much I hate "infofiche [pause] stick". It's one object, don't pause between the words.

The editing is a whole other problem, you can tell very clearly where a lot of the editing was done because the narrator's voice or inflection or volume changes from one word to another and it's clear that it's from a different take. It throws you right out of the story.

78 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

Strange concept of what science fiction means

If you ever wanted science fiction to feature more deep analysis of poetry about bureaucracy THIS IS YOUR JAM. Also if you need to know the bias cut of the fabric minor characters’ clothing are wearing or the useless nuance of makeup or doorbell sounds, do buy this book.

If not, reader, move on.

54 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Good

A slow paced story that focuses on politics, the symantics of language, and world building. I personally found it all to be good and kept me entertained for the most part. I think patient and thoughtful readers will like it, but if you are expecting a lot of explosions and actions scenes look elsewhere.

The narrator has a good voice, but doesn't differentiate enough between the characters; although she does do a good enough job that I can tell the difference.

38 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Ambassadorial murder intrigue

Arkady Martine's A Memory Called Empire follows a rookie ambassador from a small, independent space station (which wants to stay that way) as she navigates her role in the regional Empire. Upon arrival, she learns that her predecessor died and gradually comes to suspect murder, finding a target on her back. With little information on her predecessor's activities, she must piece together clues while avoiding assassination attempts. Meanwhile, a larger menace to both the empire and her home is looming while the empire is mired in succession issues and civil unrest.

While the main characters are humanoid, the environment seems completely disconnected from any Earthly relationship. The major sci-fi element is an implant that allows the recipient to absorb the memories of another person such that another person is almost inside their head. Due to his death, she only starts with an out of date backup which goes off quickly. Interestingly, in spite of interstellar travel, the communications between the ambassador and her home space station harkens back to a 19th century arrangement where neither side knows what the other is doing. At the same time, while the Empire has the outward impression of an overwhelming force, internally, between succession concerns and civil unrest, the Empire offers itself as paper tiger.

The narration is reasonable with a decent range of voices with adequate pacing.

20 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Weak writing, decent concepts

I picked this book up because some reviewers compared the depth of the fictional world to Dune. Even with tempered expectations I was incredibly disappointed. The characters all breathlessly applaud each other for their very simple, predictable, and barely strategic attempts to navigate their situation; the writing makes me think this book is written for middle-school readers (excepting the liberal use of the word f*ck); the language and even the physical world is riddled with familiarities that undermine the sense of being in a fictional world; the main character's inner monologue comprises most of the book and is basically a repetitive series of "I'm overwhelmed" or "I'm lonely even with these amazing friends." I can't recommend this.

18 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Couldn’t handle the narrator

After chapter five I called me local independent bookstore who was doing curbside pick up during COVID days. I just couldn’t stand the narrator. She made the ambassador to the empire sound like a twenty something valley girl. The cadence and intonation were so annoying that I couldn’t focus on the book. After reading the hard copy I found the story okay. Not as good as Ann Leckie or N K Jemison but worth reading.

14 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

A whole empire between covers

I was not sure about this one; but it stands up to epic space opera like Ancillary Justice. Do you like strong female leads? Notional space anthropology? Geo/spatial politics? What about evocative imagery? Have you ever thought about where you end and your memory begins, how you know stuff or how much of who you are is tangled in the various glands of your body?

Well have I got a book for you...

8 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • B
  • 08-30-20

no bite

I want this to be better than it is. I think the ideas presented in this book are interesting, although about halfway through it I realized I didn't care about the protagonist.

6 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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A Slog

A Memory Called Empire is a book I can’t wait to forget. The interesting promise of its setting and world-building is undercut by an underwhelming story, underwhelmingly narrated. The author doesn’t seem to capitalize on the most interesting aspects of the setting and plot, but instead drags the reader through unimaginative political bureaucracy. I couldn’t get to the end of this book quick enough. Perhaps a sequel in this same world would pack more of a punch than the original. How this book one a Hugo is beyond my grasp.

6 people found this helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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Too many plot holes and tropes for me to get thru

Pretty unengaging book. The super secret technology that is also the subject of popular holo/entertainment vids? And sold to the potential galactic rival, just because? A well trained ambassador who is unable to deal with 4 days of stress and high stakes games? I'm guessing this was written for a younger audience because I'm struggling to stomach the glaring plot holes and shallow story arcs throughout the book.

3 people found this helpful