In January, I read A Memory Called Empire by Arkady Martine. I actually really enjoyed it. (In fact, my new fave fantasy/sci-fi subgenre might be space operas…) So far, the sequel in the duology, A Desolation Called Peace, has delivered. March has been a significantly slower month as far as reading goes. Something’s happening in my body – i”m coming out of hibernation, out of winter. I also have had more than a few nights where I just had to go to bed early because of fatigue or a headache, or both. Nevertheless, I persist with my reading goals and habits.
A Desolation Called Peace starts out with Ambassador Mahit Dzmare on Lsel Station. She has two imagos of Yskandr – one she was given before being assigned to the empire Teixcalaan in the first place, and one that she and her Teixcalannli companions retrieved from the body is Yskadr himself which she had implanted in her brainstem by way of shady back-alley neurosurgery. Now the Councillor wants her to download the imagos… and Mahit could be in serious trouble.
I want to extrapolate some quotes that I find particularly interesting and applicable to… well… life.
“Don’t trust anyone who makes you feel good without knowing why they want you to feel that way.” (page 41)
That is a good reminder in case you’re wondering if someone is trying to emotionally manipulate you. After working in schools for the better portion of my teaching career, I can tell you that kids see right through that shit. But unfortunately, many adults have ulterior motives for making other people feel good or wanted or accepted.
“The body didn’t care about the size of the promise, only the size of the cut.” (page 77)
I kind of interpret this to mean that we don’t quite realize the promises or oaths we swear until we’re burned by them. Sometimes you have to be “cut” or burned to learn to not make promises you can’t keep.
“What better way to draw a monstrous thing to its death than to use its functions against itself?” (page 83)
Yes, we can use our enemies’ strengths and weaknesses against them. The bigger they are, the harder they fall.
“Trust is not an endlessly renewable resource.” (page 167)
For sure. I think trust can be long-suffering, but it can be used up and unable to revive.
“Cost-benefit analysis was antithetical to sleeping.” (page 174)
Ahh yes. Make a pros and cons list they said. It will tell you what you need to do, they said. Until you get zero sleep because you’re perseverating and probably worrying.
“Imagination created biases.” (page 174)
YES. Imagination can be great, but it can lead to pie-in-the-sky expectations. And then when real life hits, all the expectations come crumbling down.
Besides these quotes, the book is just good. The plot is moving forward, there’s great character development, and, as the title claimed, there are space kittens. I’m not much of a cat person, but this excites me. I’ll be back with more about A Desolation Called Peace after I’ve finished it, hopefully soon!