This book hurt me in two ways. In his spare time he works on the collaborati Since his 2012 debut, Seth's fiction has appeared in Clarkesworld, Lightspeed, Analog, and nearly every other major science fiction and fantasy market. It is only giving you this large overview, seen through the eyes of Baru, but most of the time I felt like I was treading water keeping up with who is who. But Baru plays the part that the colonizers want her to; she leaves her home, she becomes a student, she becomes a powerful accountant, she becomes what the throne wants her to be, and she never loses sight of her goals. Economic systems that provide cushions in times of famine or drought.
This is why intelligence and open-mindedness are over-rated. She's not what I'd call a good person, and that makes it even more fascinating. The Traitor is that sort of book. Uncounted numbers of people yearned for their children to become Roman citizens. It held me by the neck and forced me to watch on as so much of humanity was sacrificed for ever-increasing tiers of need and hope. And I had such high hopes.
Even the most atrocious of social norms become background to the overriding immediacy of what everyone is going through at the moment. Different parties vying for power, unique military strategy, and even some explosions! That's how good the book is and unique that will beat and punch the crap out of the read and turn the viewpoint of the genre on its head. For example, counterfeit money sufficient enough to buy out other national debts would already have fucked up the economy. Overall, this book was both exhilarating and harrowing, and I particularly appreciated that the main character is a royal accountant who understands that both governments and rebellions need funding to survive, and the same goes for the military. 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. But a posting to the distant Aurdwynn will push Baru to her limits, and may just end her quest for her people's freedom before it has even started.
She will learn the secrets of empire. With galaxy-spanning adventures of discovery and adventure, from generations ships to warp drives, exploring new worlds to first contacts, science fiction writers have given readers increasingly new and alien ways to look out into our broad and sprawling universe. As a young child, she does not understand the meaning of imperialism. The depth of intelligence it takes to craft stories like this always blows me away. This review was originally published on the blog.
It's the sequel to The Traitor, Seth Dickinson's powerful, critically acclaimed debut novel. I enjoyed it more this time around but I still couldn't connect with the second half of the book that is mostly political intrigue. Lastly, I like that Baru was an intelligent character that showed she was intelligent by thinking up ingenious strategies and tactics. So none of this held water for me. There's no destiny, there's no foretelling, none of that - just a girl, growing to a woman, with a very real cunning and desire. It presents itself almost as a stereotypical coming-of-age fantasy, a variation on the destiny-bound farmboy. I find myself really enjoying political fantasies.
And you will suffer it beautifully in this book. Using her position as the main accountant, she seizes power, and tries to reshape Aurdwynn how she sees fit. The waiting party looked at her in surprise as she clambered up like a common sailor, purse and sword banging awkwardly beneath her. Quickly Baru understands that power is this distant axis around which the Empire of Masks and the world turns. There are so many ways to find power and to be able to harness it for yourself. This book is so different from any type of fantasy that I have ever read.
People usually prefer fantasy with magic and I love that too or war, or both, but politcal fantasy can be stunning too, in a more subtle way. She is elevated by her sponsor, who seeks to use her intelligence to benefit the empire and moved to a position of power as a leader in a far distant country, assigned to prevent rebellion and control the finances of this distant country. I thought I knew what was going to happen and then I got slapped across the face with a giant salmon and walked around in a daze for a few hours afterwards. But ultimately, this is a book about power and all the terrible things people are willing to do to gain it. The conquered peoples in this novel — they get stuff. What is done with that extra time, who does it, and where the products of that time goes — this is what makes an empire. For example, Baru has this huge plan to screw over the Dukes with inflation.
The Empire of Masks is coming, armed with coin and ink, doctrine and compass, soap and lies. This is a book that revels in the minutia and has a savant digging through all those little details. Actually I was extremely surprised, and in a positive way, by pretty much everything in this book. She enters the Empire's new school, learns their rules, plays their games, tries to discover their secrets. Overall, I loved this book more than any review that I could possibly write and do this story any semblance of justice. She also has this tendency to see everything in terms of pros and cons, gains and losses, and to prioritize final results above all else, which is the complete opposite of my personality.
Certainly there is ambition in this book; nothing about it looks like an author taking the easy way down any path. Do not fuck with Baru Cormorant. 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. From here on out we watch as Baru is left with the impossible task of stopping a rebellion in a land that is refusing to be dominated…with only scant knowledge of the land but in full control of the economic situation. Probably one of the best book I have ever read. Aurdwynn, a country that has been conquered some time ago but still is ripe with rebellion and strife like a boiling cauldron.