SPSFC Semifinalist Review: The Peacemaker’s Code by Deepak Malhotra

After whittling our initial 28-book allotment down to three, my SPSFC2 team has received six more semifinalists from other judging teams. Our scores of these six new books, along with our original three semifinalists, will combine with with 81 other scores (nine each from nine teams) to determine the SPSFC2 finalists.

Each of the six books we’re reviewing this round comes with a recommendation from another blogger judging this competition, and almost all of them come with multiple strong recommendations from members of their first-round judging team. So keep in mind when you read our reviews that they are only our own thoughts, and they do not exist in a vacuum. And as always, remember that our opinions are our own, and a book not working for one or more of us does not mean it isn’t well worth reading.

So much for the standard caveats. Today, we’ll be discussing an intense diplomatic first contact novel: The Peacemaker’s Code by Deepak Malhotra

Jay’s Review and Rating

Overall, The Peacemaker’s Code was an easy read with a fascinating and deeply researched diplomatic puzzle at its core and a clever and satisfying finish. On the other hand, it probably ran a little longer than it needed to, with a significant romantic subplot that didn’t work as well for me and the occasional instance of information being hidden when it really didn’t need to be. It’s not a book I’d recommend to everyone, but those who enjoy stories about preventing conflict through diplomatic means will find plenty to enjoy.

Jay has rated The Peacemaker’s Code 6.5/10. For more detail, check out his full review.

Josh’s Review and Rating

A long novel seemingly dealing with first contact, The Peacemaker’s Code takes way too long to set things up and feels like wish fulfillment, as its protagonist is the same profession as the author and is treated as the most brilliant, indispensable person–and even (most obnoxiously) the most romantically attractive. There might be a solid novel if you can get beyond that but it was too laughable for me to continue past the first third.

Josh has DNF’d The Peacemaker’s Code.

Matt’s Review and Rating

The Peacemaker’s Code reads like a Dan Brown character making first contact with aliens. With the stakes nothing short of saving the human race, our hubris-laden male lead must leave the girl weak in the knees with his charm and the extraterrestrials weak at the negotiating table with his cleverness. The lengthy novel is full of imperial contextualizations that feel more like a history buff’s flex toward the rather binary premise of “kill or potentially be killed.”

Matt has rated The Peacemaker’s Code 5/10.

Sarah’s Review and Rating

Intriguing premise, with a set-up that keeps you on your toes as you navigate all the details along with the MC. I appreciated the nuance that these characters brought to determining whether extraterrestrial visitors were friend or foe. Not too long into it though, the nonstop stream-of-conscious logic and reasoning was too much for me. Folks who don’t mind the minutiae of debate and enjoy a slowly unveiled puzzle may get a lot out of this. But I’m not the right audience, needing a stronger supplement of character and emotional storytelling, so letting my teammates score this one.

Sarah has declined to rate The Peacemaker’s Code (Not My Style).

Official Scores

Jay 6.5
Josh DNF
Matt 5
Sarah NMS
Team 4.6


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