A Review of: A Desolation Called Peace (Teixcalaan #2), by Arkady Martine

See my review on A Memory Called Empire [it’s short and not very detailed – but the gist is that overall – I quite liked the book!] But; still extremely annoyed with the language of this book. [Hated all the extremely un-prouncable names for everything] Having read one of them in this series did not make it better. Trying to search my brain for some nonsensical thread, and remember what things are supposed to mean – because this time the story is written with an assumption you know, and there isn’t the kind of clues or explanations given to remind you what some rando word is supposedly meant to mean. 

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

This book, I did not enjoy. It was a slog. I felt clunky, and awkward at the beginning, [& Hard to get back into the stream of the story] and desperately tiring thru the majority of it. I had no satisfaction with the story plots; woven in, nor with the overall arc of the book. If this is meant to be a three part series, it falls 100% into the ‘lame, boring, but somehow needed’ second book fallacy, to pull it to whatever the great exciting conclusion of the arc is, in book 3. [If there is a book 3. If not… well it left the set with a bad taste in my mouth.]

Normally I like big, long books. This one, was an effort to complete. I wanted it to get better, enjoyable, as if maybe it just had a rough start, and would regain the pace and enjoyment built in book one. It did not, for me. 

*** Spoilers ahead***

The plot of this book: the Teixcalaanli go to the edge of territory, to defend it from the aliens, revealed at the end of book one. They battle. They try to talk to them. Not much else of consequence. 

There’s some really rando interludes that are ‘the aliens narrating’. They’re very hard to parse, and make sense of (which is the intent, being they’re alien, and different. Very different.) But OMFG, it was not a good call. All it did was make me want to throw this book at a wall. I don’t feel it helped the story in any way – it did not help me see from the alien point of view or understand them. The story would have been better served with nothing, as opposed to this, in my opinion. Or, better yet: find a way to make it comprehensible to the humans reading the book. 

I also didn’t like the addition of the romantic subplot between Three Seagrass & Mahit. It felt.. Like it did not belong in this fantastic space war story. I would have left it as unresolved tension/longing, etc. It wasn’t in line with the story here. Awkward and out of place – overall distracting from the story. 

What I did like, was the interactive brain link of the Shard pilots. The Hive mind of it. It was interesting, and unique, and vivid in the writing when one pilot is dying (creatively) by the alien ‘spit’ and the others feel it. Traumatized by it. Haunted. But yet… it doesn’t seem to allow them any insight or advantage in terms of the war front? Hmmm… could have been better used. This feels like a bad missed story-plot-writing opportunity to me. 

I felt that the ball was dropped on the connectivity. We have the Emperor Nine Adeze, who apparently doesn’t know about this. (Exactly how could she not know?!) The War political agency doesn’t seem to want her to know. (and why, exactly?) But yet – they have the ability to connect in real time – with the peoples on the front side of this war, to talk or feel or whatever. But they don’t? When there is no other way, than wait 10+ hours for messages to get moved one way thru space, and then back… When in war every second counts? It seems obvious, this type of communication would be vital, and 100% utilized. = Bad plot planning. 

Some of the Subplots – which I think would have served the story so wel to explore fully:

  • The young emperor to be; 8 Antidote learning, exploring, spying, thinking, subverting commands, then changing it – after experiencing a shard connection. His story line was interesting, and vastly under-utilized. The story needs a lot more of his character and arc. Sure, he’s a ‘main-ish’ character… but his presense is more of a ‘tool’ than a participant, if you ask me.

• The war division people, against the emperor 19 Adeze.. But it isn’r really explored, just hint dropped, and not followed through on.

• The ship captain 16 Moonrise, against the ship fleet captain 9 Hibiscus. Which ties I with 16 Moonrise’s connection to War politi 11 Laurel. Again – it’s brought in, but not a full character arc, or conclusion to how/what/why, etc.

Some other thoughts:

  • Another thought that does’t tie itself up in a nice bow: the Teixcalaan thing the people of Lsel station are ‘barbarians’. But yet the Lsel people have a technology advanced enough to transfer a persons ‘mind/memory/personality/knowledge’ from one to another – the imago chip. And the yet Teixcalaan don’t have anything like this, and seem to be mostly anti-technology – or at least barely any is mentioned, beyond the surveillance systems everywhere. So who are the barbarians? And why is there so much friction between these cultures? 
  • Exactly WHY are Lsel people considered Barbarians? Simply because they are not Teixcalaan? This is never actually specified. I for one, would like to know. Howa technologically advanced people, would be ‘barbarians’. Not even human. They way it is laid out. 
  • 9 Hibiscus is in charge of alllll the war space ships. But she allows , like she’s helpless to stop it – the irritant of 16 moonrise wander all over her ship, for many extended periods of time. When clearly – she can and SHOULD be telling her to GTFO, and back to her own ship ,where she belongs. 
  • The plan to ‘obliterate’ an entire planet of ‘beings’ – as a solution quickly jumped to. For a culture of people, the Teixcalaan who are an ‘Empire’, and we are made to believe they constantly overwhelm new territory, beat them to submission, and announce they now own the place… so this is the way they’ve done things, for hundreds of years. But in this case- we just gonna wipe those f*ckers out. Teach those bad aliens a lesson, instead of the usual, divided, conquer, rule thing. 
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