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The Traitor

3.67 of 5 stars 3.67  ·  rating details  ·  83 ratings  ·  14 reviews
Cisco (The Tyrant) ups the ante for provocative dark fantasy by giving this coming-of-age tale a subtle metaphysical edge. While still a boy, sensitive Nophtha realizes that he's uncommonly empathetic and able to see the world from the perspective of others. Tutored by his uncle, Nophtha apprentices as an itinerant spirit eater, or someone who absorbs lingering ghosts that ...more
Paperback, 152 pages
Published August 1st 2007 by Prime Books
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I doubt there is anything quite like it. Essentially a long monologue by a character who could crudely be described as a 'swallower of souls' (though only after you're done with them) and the cult-like community he operates within while a sectarian war rages between two fictional cities/regions/countries (like everything else in the book, all is rendered with tantalising opaqueness), Cisco's novel is 'weird' in the only way that true weirdness can be: it's frank, flat and unassuming about its st ...more
A gothic or supernatural fantasy novel as written by Bernhard or Beckett. Using many of the stylistic traits of these writers (especially Bernhard’s repetition) and at some points almost being as funny as them(almost), Cisco creates an intense monologue detailing a journey to death or transformation, a bizarre messiah tale, and all wrapped up in an apocalyptic, Lovecraftian conclusion. An opaque but intriguing tale that doesn’t quite reach the stunning surreal heights of his last novel, The Tyra ...more
Charlie L
(Review written 5/21/2008)

Narration sometimes babbles together in such strings that each particular clause loses all meaning and focus, sometimes hiding any emotional response to something that with other phrasing could be emphatic and powerful, powerful and emphatic, but instead drones and continues, continues and drones, unwilling to please the reader in any way even if he or she strives to be pleased by its sentences, and this is Michael Ciscos The Traitor. Being accustomed to sentences like
This novel was something else. Cisco’s first person narrator, a prisoner committing his story to paper before his illness ends his life, tells a picaresque, fantastical, quasi-psychedelic and, especially towards the end, intensely feverish story about his relationship with and maniacal devotion to a man named Wite, who is a spirit eater. To give you some sense of this novel’s off-hand strangeness, about halfway through the novel Wite leaves his body and becomes a mountain. And this is related al ...more
Vincenzo Bilof
I have seen the mountain, and it is beautiful.

Cisco's writing seems like he captures the the feeling of a dream, or rather, the feeling that follows you when you wake up from a particular type of dream in which you felt everything or nothing, and you were aware of these feelings or the absence of these feelings. Cisco does not need a contemporary setting for his stories; as in The Traitor, the names of places and the places themselves do not matter because they are nothing more than placeholders
Quite an unusual book - and definetely not one for all tastes.

It is a soliloquy, a monologue of sorts, a testament.
And the narrator walks us through his story the same way I would through mine - hesitating, babbling sometimes, going back and forth a few times, giving much importance to some little details while ignoring entire events.
Which packs the book with a sense of realism - if I am allowed to use such a word when talking about a fantasy book like this - and some extremely beautiful and p
Compared to Cisco's The Narrator and The Divinity Student (hereafter referred to as Cisco's "other works"), The Traitor is much easier to follow and much less strange. It's also much less interesting- the nightmarish qualities of Cisco's other works are decidedly less pronounced in this book, the inexplicable aspects of the world are mostly relegated to the periphery of the world and the asides of the narrator rather than being put front-and-center. Now, on its own, a strange but more standard n ...more

In the end I just couldn't return to this book. It just isn't my cup of tea. This will possibly be my only 1 star review.


People who know me know that I have often boasted that no matter how much I dislike a book I will not stop reading it until I finish. How can you get a proper overview of something unless you finish it?

I could not finish this book.

Not because it was 'difficult', or 'had no plot' or whatever other reasons other readers give.

I couldn't finish it because I was not in t
Piotr Szczęsny
Not as good as Divinity Student. Also tackles transcending humanity theme, but in different way. Still good weird fiction, I might missed something - the narrator sometimes goes into feverish rambling and it's easy to fell off the track.
Alexander Dan
Intense, dark, weird and steeped in a dream-like, uncanny atmosphere, this book was a very intense read. Highly recommended.
Robert Mackie
Loved it! So creatively written.
Sarah Wilson
I don't know what just happened.
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Shelves: fantasy
recommended by Nick Mamatas here:
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Michael Cisco is an American writer and teacher currently living in New York City. He is best known for his first novel, The Divinity Student, winner of the International Horror Guild Award for Best First Novel of 1999.

He is interested in confusion.
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“Anyone could say that a miracle is something impossible, but they say it thoughtlessly, mindlessly, because most people have such weak imaginations they couldn’t possibly understand what they’re saying when they say that a miracle is something impossible. Ask anyone what that means, what it means to see a miracle, and they will say that it’s something impossible, but they mean that a miracle is something formerly believed to be impossible that turns out not to be, not to be impossible, in other words, but possible after all. If this were really true, then miracles would be the most ordinary things in the world, the most uninspiring things in the world, and what can one expect from people who have never been anything but ordinary and uninspired.” 4 likes
“Cadavers and spirits are human refuse, and they are absurdly difficult to dispose of properly. When someone dies, a small gang of specialists is required to remove and inter the body in such a way that it can always be located precisely at any time while preventing it from ever appearing again.” 3 likes
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