RSS

The Traitor Baru Cormorant by Seth Dickinson | Blabber

19 Apr

The Traitor Baru CormorantThe Traitor Baru Cormorant by Seth Dickinson
Read Feb 7 – Apr 19, 2017
Geopolitical Fantasy
399 pages
Spoiler-free blabber


.

“This is the truth. You will know it because it hurts.”

The Traitor Baru Cormorant is a book that you’ll either love or you’ll hate. A geopolitical fantasy set in a land controlled by a distant empire, it follows Baru, a young woman whose home is made victim of the power that empire holds. As a child, she vows revenge for her country and her family, and sets herself to tear down the nation from within.

The cover of this book, while striking on its own, is one of the most poignant covers I’ve seen when it comes to conveying the tone of a book. As a reader, you follow Baru as she enters into the realm of the enemy, manipulates her way through by cold, calculating precision. The main character is a savant for accounting, numbers, tactics. She plants herself in the middle of a rivalry of dukes, all of whom are overshadowed by the looming Masquerade, the empire that controls them all.

This is my first experience reading fantasy where the only thing fantastical about it is the names of the countries. No magic, no creatures… just a world different from ours, under a type of control that is eerily resonant at times. The Empire of Masks rules over the duchies of Aurdwynn and has imposed upon them their own rules, including those of ‘racial hygeine’.

Under the Mask, marriages must be genetically beneficial and those lands who participate ‘unhygienic practices’ must be accounted for and corrected. Baru comes from such a place – the story begins with her at home, Taranoke, living with her mother and two fathers. The Mask sweeps into Taranoke, one of Baru’s fathers is taken away and Baru herself is placed in a learning facility to learn to stay away from anything The Mask deems as sinful: sodomy, tribadism, genetically inferior breeding… all of these, The Mask seeks to eliminate by whatever means necessary.

Throughout this process, she remembers what the Mask did to her home and family.

This is one of those books that lulls you into a false sense of security, allows you to believe that you understand what’s going on and then yanks the rug out from underneath you. You see Baru’s mind as she forms plots and plans to best manipulate those around her to achieve her goal of reclaiming Taranoke. You read, you see the awfulness the Mask has created and you root for Baru… but at the same time…

The author, Seth Dickinson, is a bit of a wordsmith, but his writing style alone for this book is a tad strange. Told from Baru’s point of view, it goes into battles and hidden politics that Baru herself doesn’t see, so you as the reader sometimes only get descriptions of occurrences instead of actually seeing those occurrences through scenes. It definitely took me a bit to get into – the writing at times adopts the ‘tell’ method instead of the ‘show’, but it does that because it’s what Baru herself experiences. The writing becomes a bit more showy later in the book when Baru starts witnessing events herself, but early on it is a bit mechanic. Don’t let that dissuade you though. The endgame is totally worth the wait.

But I mentioned Dickinson being a wordsmith, and then went into mechanical writing. Whoops. The reason I mention his way with words though is because despite the overall writing at times being bit difficult, there are so many beautiful phrases and memorable quotes littered throughout the book. About half way through, I started keeping track of them and had to go back and poke through the ealier pages to find more:

“Freedom granted by your rulers is just a chain with a little slack.”

“Her fury had nothing else to eat and so it began to eat her.”

“Understood what the books and the generals always repeated: that armies did not kill each other, they broke each other, that the day would be won when one army believed it could not survive. A matter of deception, of conviction, of lies made true through performance. Like everything else.”

And there are so, so many more. Reading this book at times is like reading poetry made into war and betrayal. I really loved this book, despite my small gripes with the writing. It’s thought-provoking, it’s complex, it’s poignant…

And that bolded phrase at the top of this review? It’s the opening line to the book. And really, it’s the most perfect line that could have been there. At the end of the book, you’ll flip back to the front and just stare at that opening line for a while, thinking about what you just read. I know I did.

Rating: 5/5 stars

Advertisements
 
13 Comments

Posted by on 04/19/2017 in Books, Review

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

13 responses to “The Traitor Baru Cormorant by Seth Dickinson | Blabber

  1. Chelsea

    04/20/2017 at 6:46 am

    I read The Traitor Baru Cormorant last year and absolutely loved it. I enjoy fantasy and historical fantasy with clever politics and tactics and with great writing, so this was right up my alley. I’m so glad that you enjoyed it too, and I love the quotes you’ve pulled out from the book in this review! Can’t wait for the sequel!

    Liked by 1 person

     
    • embuhlee

      04/20/2017 at 7:48 pm

      Me neither!! 😀 I can’t even find a placeholder for it on goodreads yet though, so I feel it’s pretty far off still. 😦

      Liked by 1 person

       
      • Chelsea

        04/20/2017 at 9:32 pm

        Yeah, I think the author’s said on twitter that he’s still writing it, but it’s closer to being done than it is started, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed for next year, but I think fantasy readers are used to waiting for the next book in a series anyway!

        Liked by 1 person

         
      • embuhlee

        04/22/2017 at 9:41 am

        This is true, haha. I bet this series in particular is difficult to write. The planning out of all the intentions and schemes of characters must be exhausting.

        Liked by 1 person

         
  2. Thoughts on Fantasy

    04/23/2017 at 4:36 am

    I’ve seen this book online a few times but I never realised it was a fantasy because the cover and title are not at all typical (though from what you have said it doesn’t seem like it’s a typical fantasy). It sounds really intriguing, I think I’ll have to add it to my TBR!

    Like

     
    • embuhlee

      04/27/2017 at 8:00 pm

      I know, looking at it, I thought it was scifi. And really, reading the synopsis doesn’t really scream ‘fantasy’ either. It was definitely good though!

      Liked by 1 person

       
  3. theorangutanlibrarian

    04/30/2017 at 2:30 pm

    This book sounds absolutely amazing!! And you’re right, that cover is stunning!! Great review!

    Liked by 1 person

     
  4. hadeer

    08/18/2017 at 11:42 am

    Great review! I read this book last year and it absolutely gutted me; the reveal at the end had me pulling at my hair! I think it’s such a poignant commentary on the effects of imperialism and colonialism.

    Liked by 1 person

     
    • embuhlee

      08/18/2017 at 6:47 pm

      I agree!! The second one has a title now, too. No cover yet though. I think it’s going to be a release-day purchase for me.

      Liked by 1 person

       

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

 
Delphine's Babble on Some Good Reads

Good books, a loud silence, and a sleepy conscious is the ideal life.

flowlessbooks.wordpress.com/

Happiness is a cup of coffee and a good book

150 Characters and more...

...Because some things in life cannot be expressed with a mere 150 characters.

~Tales of Fantasy and Adventure

a living portfolio of maremma gee

MetalPhantasmReads

Book reviews, tags and music stuff

%d bloggers like this: