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
This review contains spoilers. I recieved an ARC from Tor Publishers and thank you to Stephen for providing me a copy of this.
What can I say about this book? It’s impressive in its worldbuilding, epic in its scale of description, and focused on a woman that has a mission to save Lsel Station from the clutches of an ever-expanding empire named Teixcalaan.
There is so much to discuss here. The first bit is that an Lsel Ambassador, Yskandr was killed by Ten Pearl because he threatened to flood the Teixcalaani markets with a special kind of technology. Yskandr was supposedly protecting his station by offering the Emperor, Six Direction, a special kind of Imago technology. To my sense, it is a sort of machine that carries the dead and makes them live on. It is immortality. And the Teixcalaani nobility have not missed any of this. The three presumptive heirs to the throne, Thirty Larkspur, One Lightening, and even Eight Antidote, who is but a child, are some of the ruthless heirs you will ever find.
Thirty Larkspur is the cunning maniuplator on a grand scale. I do feel his prescene was needed more in this book. He is a mad-man, a man obessed with power. The Emperor Six Direction, is now old and wants the imago-techonology to create a clone of himself. There are various deals made with the Science and War Ministry, and One Lightening and Thirty Larkspur are behind all of this. And here comes Mahit. The newly appointed ambassador from Lsel Station that has to figure this out with her new lisasons, Twelve Azalea and Three Foot Seagrass. And then there is Nineteen Azde, who has far more regret buried inside of her which causes her to help Mahit in more ways than she could ever imagine. That is also not forgetting the ministers at Lsel Station that sent her because they believe there is an Alien threat coming which will envelope the Empire and all of its client states into chaos. I’ll let you figure that out for yourself.
This is a new world, and this is hard-core sci-fi. I only have begun to appericate the complexities of sci-fi world-building. There is so much here that a fantasy writer could be envious off. Arkady goes into detail about the city, it’s police, it’s literature, its televisons, every single detail you can think of is pin-pointed. Come to think of it, this is perfect material for a Netflix show. This is akin to the Expanse. Realistic sci-fi. Or even a video-game. Horizion Zero Dawn had a future where humanity’s history was wiped out, and it is up too Aloy to figure out the past of this world in a world run by machines. The amount of worldbuilding is impressive. Twelve Azalea and Three Foot Seagrass are some of the best side-kick characters you would ever want to have. I also liked the fact that there was so much detail…it boggles the mind. It was not easy to write a novel like this and so much hard work went into this. This is also akin to Nick Martell’s Kingdom of Liars, where the main character has to figure out his past and what events led to it. In terms of themes I mean. This is a bit of a challenging read, and I rec you read the glossary at the end. It’s at page 451, but keep referring to it as much as possible.
I liked the idea that the city ran on artifical intelligence system, or an algorithim that didn’t identify Mahit as a citizen. You need to be indentified by the algorithim to become a citizen. It also shocked me that the Texicalaani are shorter than normal human beings. Nineteen Azde is a character that is also a villain but also someone who regrets a lot. She’s both. You’ll figure this out soon.
I found this to be an amazing book. I will give this a solid 10/10. Not just because of the sheer visuals, but of the sheer worldbuilding. This is akin to a whole bible of information and lore. It takes a very big mind to come up and catalogue all of this.