This was most definitely something different, unusual and enjoyable.
Mahit has been chosen as ambassador for her people, Lsel Station, to the Teixcalaan Empire after the previous ambassador Yskandr has gone missing. There she is thrown into the intrigue of the imperial court with her only potential ally being her liaison Three Seagrass. Things are made more complicated as there is a potential imperial succession issue in which the previous ambassador appeared to be heavily involved in.
So this book takes a bit to get used to. The names of the Teixcalaan people are definitely different than I am familiar with in that they all involve a number and some object which can be confusing. In addition they all try to speak somewhat poetically which makes the language dense. However you do get used to it after a while and as you get to know the characters it’s not such an issue.
The whole story takes place over only a week I think and though it mostly involves just intrigue I was still kept very interested throughout. Mahit is a good character, you feel her confusion and can admire how she works through it to gain an understanding of what’s really going on. Another unique feature of the book is that Mahit’s people have a technology that allows them to take imprints of a person and then implant them in someone else and using counselling and technology kind of ‘blend’ them together. The person who is implanted are still themselves but in Mahit’s case she hasn’t had the full time for integration and the imprint of Yskandr is two decades out of date so she is at a definite disadvantage. Considering it’s a single POV story it was nice to get Yskandr’s voice as well.
My only issue other than the names and language (which is part of the purpose of the story) is that our main characters all act fairly responsibly and grown up but then there are some jarring moments of immaturity that really took me out of the story and made me think I was reading a YA book or something. It was rare but I did notice it. Overall though this was a great read, very different than the usual space opera fare and considering it’s a debut (I think), is even more impressive.
4.5 stars rounded down.