Tuesday, November 10, 2015

The Traitor Baru Cormorant by Seth Dickson

The Traitor Baru Cormorant by Seth Dickson

Any summary I try to write cannot do justice the layered intricacy that is Baru Cormorant. It is a story of individuals struggling against the might of nations, done in a refreshing way. It is a fantasy novel without dragons, magic, or even anything more odd that a foreign currency. There is but one large battle and eventually, you realize even that was just secondary to other movements that were going on.

The story follows the titular Bar Cormorant as a young girl on the island of Taranoke who loves to tally the birds and the stars. But with the trade winds comes the Empire of Masks from Falcrest. The Masquerade conquers using economy and rules, progress and lies. They rename things and outlaw local customs and turn the people into good servants of the empire. Baru watches as her islands way of life is destroyed, as one of her fathers is murdered and he people devastated by plague. She realizes that she hates the Empire of Masks and that it cannot be destroyed from the outside. Once she is identified as a prodigy and a savant with numbers and is groomed to be integrated into the highest rungs of the Masquerade’s power, she sees her chance to end the Masquerade from within. In order to help her people, she must cover her hate and tackle the Empire’s test, bringing order to the rebellious Aurdwynn nation. It is a land full of shifting loyalties, sedition, rebels, and treachery. Baru must find a way to rule this unrulable country in the name of an empire she hates.

Baru Cormorant is an amazing, layered story, well-crafted and well plotted out. Despite the fantasy setting, her struggles generate empathy and she develops from a simple, very smart girl into a richly complex character that, despite her flaws, you find tourself rooting for, to the very end.

On a side note, I am perfectly willing to trust anything that is blurbed by Kameron Hurley as being “Smart. Brutal”, and I have to say, I was not disappointed. 

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