A Memory Called Empire

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A Memory Called Empire

A Texicalaan Novel 1





  • [status:: read]
  • [rating:: 4]
  • [added:: 2023-10-02]
  • [started:: 2023-10-02]
  • [read:: 2023-10-17]

Spoilers below

Notes/Thoughts while reading

  • I’m loving it so far
    • Imago idea is fun.
  • But also - somehow the author and I aren’t on the same page.
    • I imagined Three Seagrass to be stern, stand-off-ish and slightly xenophobic from the first interactions. Especially the “she might darn well liase” in the medical room suggested she didn’t rush to do her job. But later on she was described as doing heaps of work and there is a friendly relationship? Like the protagonist thought of her as sweet when she was unconcious after the bomb blast.
    • That friend informally popping in and hanging out with Three Seagrass was so weird. It has been suggested that this culture cares a lot about titles. Now, on the first day he just willy-nilly shows up and Three Seagrass and him hit it off? That felt weird culturally and incongruent with her personality.
    • It’s unclear what Mahit’s stance towards the empire is. She described her duty as making sure that her home does not get swallowed up by the expansion, but she also loves everything empire. Sharing the secret of the imago technology seems stupid.
    • I thought the bomb going of – “the world was white and a roar” – was another Imago flashback. There were a few of those hickups where i just didn’t get immediately what the author meant.
  • Malehi’s friendship with Three Seagrass was actually really well handled. She knows she can’t really trust her but doesn’t want to believe it.
  • Teixcalaan is very much like earth in it being a planet, it’s very relatable. “The city” could easily be earth in a millenia. But the obscure names, in spelling and in being named after objects, and the lack of emotional expression really distance them from “us” (dehumanise). Lsel though is a space station, something much harder to relate to, but the smile is the same and it’s the protagonist’s culture. So we emphasise with both cultures. Teixcalaan expansionism and cultural pressure also reflects the current West’s pressure.
  • That napping on the grass scene was just great. Like we don’t often have heroes actually being tired.
  • That was actually a wild ending. It all just exploded and went big. Sometimes during the book, I feel like it couldn’t hold its own weight. The poetry felt like someone writing poetry that an empire of poets would write, not something that it would write. Those poems always broke immersion for me. Three Seagrass’ poem didn’t feel quite good enough to be sung in the streets
  • I was sort of disappointed that Three Seagrass in the end was “just” a person who wanted to help. It seemed like there would be more mystery, maybe a betrayal in her.
  • The stakes at the end of the story were big but I also didn’t really care about the emperor or Nineteen Adze. Twelve Azalea’s death was the most meaningful. A challenge was who to care for throughout the book. I didn’t care for the Teixcalaan empire, or really for Six Direction. Maybe that was the genius of the book, that it wasn’t clear black and white. I couldn’t say after the first few pages ‘these are the bad guys and those are the good ones’
  • It used a similar method to The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet in having parentheses to comment on thoughts of the character. I don’t know, I don’t think that’s my thing.
  • The whole imago storyline was really well done. Both the introduction, and how we felt the loss and the re-appearance of Yksandr
  • In general, the whole diplomatic intrigue setting was so well done. Mahit actually got herself out of trouble a few times by being diplomatically smart. That was very well done.


  • Mahit Dzmare - Ambassador, Protagonist
  • Three Seagrass - aide to Mahit
  • Twelve Azalea - friend to Three Seagrass
  • Thirty Larkspur - political intriguant who tried to usurp
  • Yskandr Aghavn - imago of Mahit’s
  • Teixcalaan - dominant culture
  • Nineteen Adze, aide to emperor, to be become emperor by end of book