Plot: 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.
Reviews: I picked this up after its Hugo win and all the acclaim. And fam, this book earned every compliment it got.
Martine worked to develop an alien society that is truly alien. Politics are spoken in poetry. Smiles are done with the eyes, not the mouth. Names are different from what we’d expect, and not just in terms of made up words. And we learn all this with Mahit, the ambassador from a small station entering this culture as an outsider. We are in Mahit’s head as she is condescendingly treated as a barbarian with foreign practices, condescended to by a colonial culture that she has admired and wanted to join her entire life.
The book is very dense and can run slow at times. But it also has a good sense of humor, likeable characters, and fascinating political machinations and considerations. It definitely earned its Hugo.