A Desolation Called Peace, by Arkady Martine

Second paragraph of third chapter:

(Three months ago, even if she'd somehow reached this exalted position in the Ministry, complete with her own tiny office with a tiny window only one floor down from the Minister herself, Three Seagrass would have been asleep in her house, and missed the message entirely. There: she'd justified clinical-grade insomnia as a meritorious action, one which would enable her to deal with a problem before anyone else awoke; that was half her work done for the day, surely.)

Sequel to last year's Hugo winner A Memory Called Empire, which I greatly enjoyed, but did not write up at the time due to being involved with Hugo administration myself. I really enjoyed this one too – horribly lethal alien incursions, grand sweeping palace politics, and a smart kid and a fish-out-of-water diplomat who separately try to save the day. Martine's gimmick of giving her main culture's characters names that start with numbers is surprisingly effective at creating the sense of a totally different civilisation. It's quite a long book – 480 pages plus a glossary and pronunciation guide – but it did not drag. Kindly sent to me by work colleagues when I was down with COVID, to accelerate my recovery. It certainly didn't do any harm. You can get it here.

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