Arkady Martine’s A Memory Called Empire is a novel of political intrigue, set in a vast interstellar empire. As it begins, our protagonist, a young woman from a small space-station-based civilization just outside the edge of the Teixcalaan Empire, is summoned to be the new ambassador to the empire.
Upon arriving at the capital city planet to start her new job, she discovers that her predecessor was murdered, and oh hey imperial court politics, whee. From there, it takes all kinds of twists and turns as she ferrets out what happened, what’s happening now, and tries even more to figure out what she wants to happen.
Beyond the political intrigue thriller aspects of it, this is also a book about the nature of empire itself, and is grappling with trying to reconcile admiration for an empire’s beauties with an awareness of its intrinsic inhuman monstrousness; it’s maybe one of the most ambiguous novels I’ve read, that way.
This is good stuff; there will apparently be sequels to this, but it’s a complete story as written, so don’t feel a need to wait.