The Traitor Baru Cormorant

  • by Seth Dickinson
  • Narrated by Christine Marshall
  • 14 hrs and 0 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

In Seth Dickinson's highly anticipated debut The Traitor Baru Cormorant, a richly imagined geopolitical fantasy, a young woman from a conquered people tries to transform an empire. Baru Cormorant believes any price is worth paying to liberate her people - even her soul.
When the Empire of Masks conquers her island home, overwrites her culture, criminalizes her customs, and murders one of her fathers, Baru vows to swallow her hate, join the empire's civil service, and claw her way high enough to set her people free. Sent as an imperial agent to distant Aurdwynn, another conquered country, Baru discovers it's on the brink of rebellion. Drawn by the intriguing duchess Tain Hu into a circle of seditious dukes, Baru may be able to use her position to help. As she pursues a precarious balance between the rebels and a shadowy cabal within the empire, she orchestrates a do-or-die gambit with freedom as the prize.
But the cost of winning the long game of saving her people may be far greater than Baru imagines.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

A triumph of a debut!

A terribly cunning display of the untrustworthy narrator (it's in the title, after all!) Baru is an incredibly engaging protagonist, and this fantastical political thriller keeps you guessing about loyalties, love, and what drives a person to ultimate treachery. This narrative weaves a spectacular warning to the readers: of social injustice, imperialism and the profound danger and power that comes from being truly alone in your mind. Machiavellian machinations in a spectacular feat of world building. Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful.
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- Mimi

Not Sure What the Hype is About

So let's be completely honest. This book is a pretty boring "fantasy" novel (although there's no magic, so it's more of an economic/political medieval fiction). It is basically the story of an empire's conquest and rule over tribal lands, with a very Orwellian stance of "Big Brother" politics, with a lot of nods to both the Roman Empire and Communism. But the only reason I can think of it getting such rave publicity is its LGBT-friendly slant. Most likely this was woven into the story in order to garter artistic and critical acclaim for its progressive storyline.

Of course, such structures historically never existed in our world. There were no native tribes or lands that are predominantly homosexual on planet Earth, so it requires quite a stretch of the imagination. Although it has always existed, especially in the Roman Empire for example, Dickenson makes it anathema in this empire and instead creates a entire culture based upon it - then makes that culture out to be some kind of utopia from the main character's viewpoint - a culture that the empire is dedicated to stamping out. No satisfying, in-depth reasons are ever given for this, only some vague "hygienic" reason but apparently plague and malnutrition are much more of a killer in these societies than anything else.

Aside from this one plot device which is woven throughout the story - the threat of discovery, the agony of hiding ones' feeling from society for fear of being ostracized and murdered - the book was not all that well written. I had trouble following and differentiating the various characters, and even following the plot. The big confrontation at the end was confusing to me as well. I just can't give this book a recommendation, especially when you consider that there are other amazing fantasy series that have gay characters that are done in a far better and more realistic portrayal, such as the Malazan series. So this book isn't that special.

I thought that this was a standalone novel, but it seems it may be part of an ongoing series. For me, there just wasn't enough there to make me want to keep going.
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- Joshua "www.newimperium.org"

Book Details

  • Release Date: 09-15-2015
  • Publisher: Macmillan Audio