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The Traitor Baru Cormorant (Baru Cormorant #1)

4.05  ·  Rating details ·  7,172 Ratings  ·  1,297 Reviews
The Traitor Baru Cormorant is an epic geopolitical fantasy about one woman's mission to tear down an empire by learning how to rule it.

Tomorrow, on the beach, Baru Cormorant will look up from the sand of her home and see red sails on the horizon.

The Empire of Masks is coming, armed with coin and ink, doctrine and compass, soap and lies. They'll conquer Baru’s island, rewri
Hardcover, 399 pages
Published September 15th 2015 by Tor
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Popular Answered Questions
Seth Dickinson I'm not sure! There will be one sequel, and maybe two. I'm trying to use as few books as possible to tell the story.
Seth Dickinson Hey! I'm hoping I can get you a schedule for this early next year. It won't be 'soon' as in months, but it hopefully won't be years and years either.

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Mogsy (MMOGC)
4.5 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum

A really odd sensation is coming over me right now. I’ve just finished The Traitor Baru Cormorant and I’m sitting down to write this review, struggling to find the right words to describe my journey with this book. It all started even before I picked up the novel, since I’d been seeing so many of my fellow readers talk about it in the weeks leading up to its release, and quite frankly, a lot of the stuff I heard scared t
I'm going to have to make a new shelf for the growing number of economi-punk titles that have been coming out. I can't believe how many of them there are, or why I get drawn so hard and fast into these kinds of tales. I can easily list one economist-protagonist for each of my fingers, and no one is more surprised than me that I'm digging it.

I'm digging it hard.

Can we have math geniuses make great heroes? Why yes, of course you can. SF has a very long history of doing just that. But how about Fan
Mary ~Ravager of Tomes~
Jun 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
If you're a fan of political intrigue & fierce female characters, this is a book for you!

Baru Cormorant is an idealistic & intelligent woman, compelled from a young age to dominate the intricate games of power between reigning territories & save her precious island home & the unique culture that raised her.

It can be quite difficult to find such a lovely balance of politics, characterization, plot twists, and imagination, but I think Seth Dickinson's debut is a beautiful blend of
Kameron Hurley
Dec 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I read an early ARC of this book because I enjoyed the author's short fiction. Turns out I have impeccable taste. This is a smart, brutal, gut-wrenching novel of conquesting and conquered, revenge, deceit, and betrayal. You'll be captivated from the very first page. Dickinson is a sly, masterful writer who pulls no punches. Get ready to have your heart ripped out through your throat. Highly recommended.

Pre-order it the moment it becomes available. You won't be sorry.

Thomas Wagner
Jul 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing
You are probably going to hate this book. Seth Dickinson knows this and gives you fair warning at the outset. "This is the truth. You will know because it hurts." And even then, you aren't prepared. Over the course of 400 tight and tense pages, the book lives up to its promise. Like its namesake, The Traitor Baru Cormorant lures you in, puts you at your ease, wins your confidence, and then destroys you. Not wasting time with the often superficial cynicism towards humanity's innate corrupt nature ...more
Althea Ann
Oct 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Highly recommended for fans of Daniel Abraham's 'A Shadow in Summer.' Hey, it's a small subgenre: well-written, painstakingly-crafted fantasy starring female accountants!

I've never been a huge fan of accounting; it never captured my imagination. Really, I can't even be bothered to balance a checkbook. But THESE books - I loved both of them.

'The Traitor Baru Cormorant' (known just as 'The Traitor' in the UK) introduces us to the character of Baru Cormorant. When she's just a girl, her homeland is
Aug 17, 2015 rated it did not like it
This book is a rollar coaster of a ride and not in a good way. This book went from something I wasn’t feeling, to something I liked, to something I hated, to something I quit, to something I gave another shot, and finally to something I disliked. Initially DNF'd at 65% but then finished it.

The Traitor Baru Cormorant is a fantasy novel that likes to focus on the big picture. It is a book about a woman that is in charge and not a coming of age story. Because of this, we get a very bird’s eye view
Oct 25, 2015 rated it really liked it
This review was originally published on the booksandpieces blog.

Clever, cunning, and dark as hell. Do not fuck with Baru Cormorant.

This book hurt me in two ways. The first was a familiar pain so let's just get it out there: queer characters die tragically. FFS, again?

The other pain, well, some people pay for that kind of thing.

How do you fight the system? That's really the question this book asks. How do you fight a culture that broke you into pieces and reshaped you into their mould? Is it p
Mayim de Vries
Aug 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is a book about female Machiavelli armed with ledgers. Also, a lesbian.

I could probably end my review here, but there is much more to Baru Cormorant.

Apparently, everything I need to drop everything I do and absolutely disregard my carefully planned reading schedule is three words: “epic geopolitical fantasy”. While the book is undoubtedly epic and downright geopolitical, it simultaneously is more dystopian than a fantasy, so if you expect your books to dazzle you with a complex magic syste
Jan 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2015
Sep 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: audiobooks

I am not really sure where to even categorize The Traitor Baru Cormorant. It's not really fantasy, yet based on it's tone and setting, it would definitely fall in that category. It pushes boundaries - moral, sexual, political. It presents many tough questions, tough situations, tough outcomes. The scope is both sprawling and incredibly tight, yet never feels to be too much of either.

It has the makings of a masterpiece, but doesn't quite hit on all cylinders for me. However, it sure as hell
Nov 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
THE TRAITOR is an epic geopolitical fantasy about one woman's mission to tear down an empire by learning how to rule it.

Tomorrow, on the beach, Baru Cormorant will look up from the sand of her home and see red sails on the horizon.

The Empire of Masks is coming, armed with coin and ink, doctrine and compass, soap and lies. They'll conquer Baru’s island, rewrite her culture, criminalize her customs, and dispose of one of her fathers. But Baru is patient. She'll swallow her hate, prove her talent,
Sep 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I hate reviewing books like this because I really really don't want to spoil it for others, but I still want to convey how much I enjoyed it.

It is also a book that while extremely well done is probably not for everyone especially if you are looking for a book full of action.

I will go to Falcrest and learn to rule, as we have been ruled. I will make it so no Taranoki daughter will lose a father again.

The Empire of Masks has come to Baru Comorant's home, and outlawed her customs, killed her father
Oct 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Fans of Megan Whalen Turner and N.K. Jemisin
Recommended to Sophie by: Sunil
Um wow I am not okay


Like. There are a lot of interesting things to say about this book. But right now I need to just curl up in a little ball and process what I just read. WHY YOU GOTTA BREAK MY HEART, BOOK. WHAT DID I EVER DO TO YOU.
Sigrid Ellis
Sep 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction-fantasy
I finished reading Seth Dickinson’d The Traitor Baru Cormorant.
My head is spinning, a bit.
I finished it three days ago.


In those geek-circle inevitable conversations, a perennial one is What AD&D Alignment Are You? Like What Hogwarts’ House Are You or Which Pokemon Are You, this is the sort of conversation that can lead to dangerous ground, if you start telling your friends and family what alignment you think they are and they disagree and then you EXPLAIN your thinking and they go “is tha
Sep 05, 2015 rated it liked it
Fantasy Review Barn

And I was having such luck with early hyped debuts lately.

It would be easy to get caught up in The Traitor Baru Cormorant, in many ways it is a fine debut that shows an author with a lot of promise. Certainly there is ambition in this book; nothing about it looks like an author taking the easy way down any path. And maybe that is the problem I had here. It may be too ambitious for its page count. It starts down one path, darts to another, and ends with a complete left turn tha
Jun 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing
The Traitor Baru Cormorant caught my eye here on goodreads, while I was mindlessly looking for interesting titles. It had few ratings, but the plot sounded quite cool and TOR rarely publishes trash when it comes to fantasy. The ebook was cheap so...I was sold.

Can't say I'm disappointed. Actually I was extremely surprised, and in a positive way, by pretty much everything in this book. It's a political fantasy, it's clever, cunning, twisted, cruel. Which in my book makes it pretty much perfect.

A relentless tale of deceptions, betrayals, rebellion, gender identity, politics, with a royal accountant protagonist
Kevin Wei’s review at Fantasy Literature covers the themes and merits of this excellent book so eloquently that there isn’t much more I can add, other than to say this book is fiercely intelligent, frequently brutal in the moral dilemmas that its central character Baru Cormorant faces, and the world it depicts is incredibly detailed and complicated, just like our own world. It re
Kevin Xu
May 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Probably one of the best book I have ever read. My favorite book so far of the year.

This book is so different from any type of fantasy that I have ever read. Its like nothing out there, its so unique. Good job on a well done debut that will divide people/readers as much as Thomas Convent or The Magicians. Its like if all the Grimdark authors started to add something different to all there works, but still is realistic and considered to be Grimdark.

Basically in my opinion, this book is Grimdark
Oct 22, 2015 rated it really liked it
Baru Cormorant is just seven years old when the Masquerade comes to her home, Taranoke, bringing their foreign ships, their paper currency, their wares and their ways. This alone doesn’t frighten young Baru, for Taranoke has always been a port of commerce: a vital hub of trade exporting sugarcane in exchange for textiles, citrus for sailcloth, buying and selling currencies from the neighboring provinces and islands who make their safe stops in Taranoke’s welcoming harbor.

But during Baru’s sevent
Feb 17, 2016 rated it liked it
So I have three book review pet peeves:

[1] Pictures in reviews of books not written by Eric Carle.

I like words. They’re beautiful, particularly in their inclusivity. A wonderful sentence invites us into its world. I – my consciousness – am in the same room as the sentence. The opposite is true of wonderful pictures. I feel like I’m standing at a window, looking out at the picture. There’s a distance there, and I don’t like that.

But just yesterday I assigned a book to a student and he said to me,
Stevie Kincade
Feb 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
(Audiobook – 4.5 stars) The Traitor Baru Cormorant is unlike any book I have ever read before.

I have read plenty of tales of revenge, empire building, totalitarianism, deceit and subterfuge. I have read fantasies that contain no magic or dragons. I have never read a book with all these elements where our main character is an accountant who’s main weapons are guile, inflation, market manipulation and management of logistics.

Wait! Don’t stop reading! I know the idea of a controlled sub-prime mortg
Nov 18, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2015
The Traitor Baru Cormorant begins with a promise: “This is the truth. You will know because it hurts.”

Seth Dickinson fulfills that promise.

Baru Cormorant loves her homeland and her family, but the conquering Masquerade cares little about her feelings for either. As a young child, she does not understand the meaning of imperialism. She does not understand why it is so wrong for a man to love another man, for a woman to love another woman. But she will learn. She will learn the ways of political s
This book started out so incredibly strong for me and just got progressively weaker. I loved meeting our main character, Baru, as a young girl becuase she was inquisitive, imaginative and clever. She comes from a place where there is a definite tribal influence and people often have two fathers and one mother. This was instantly interesting to me, it was something I liked the sound of and though made Baru into a colourful and fun character.

However, as the story progressed Baru's homeland is inva
Nov 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing
The Traitor Baru Cormorant is a very original and beautifully executed fantasy novel. Seth Dickinson is a gifted wordsmith and an intelligent and compassionate storyteller; I am certain I will be an eager and loyal reader of his from this point forward, so long as he continues to produce magnificent novels like this one.

The premise is deceptively simple: The Masquerade, an empire that conquers and rules though deceit as much as fear, overtakes Baru's homeland and purges its culture (and its popu
Jan 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I don't even know where to begin.

I could write a 3-page essay on this book and why I absolutely loved it, but I'll try to keep this shorter than that.

"The Traitor Baru Cormorant" is perfect for fans of A Song of Ice and Fire, but also such an improvement on that series in so many important ways. The low amount of magic (I actually don't recall any magic at all but maybe I completely missed something--- doesn't matter as I'm re-reading it soon already), blistering levels of political intrigue an
Aug 13, 2015 rated it really liked it
A young woman from an island subsumed into a much larger empire seeks the power to fight the empire from within, but is in danger of losing herself in the process.

The Empire of Masks which has taken Baru Cormorant's childhood home is obsessed with control over its people, its politics and, ultimately, the whole world. It's obsessed with eugenics, utility and hygiene in usually the most twisted ways. Baru seeks power by fast promotion in this evil empire, and finds herself in high position in a d
Jun 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"...we are not free. Not even when we march beside them, nor even when we lead them. Freedom granted by your rulers is just a chain with a little slack."
Sep 27, 2015 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Wealhtheow by: Sue
When Baru is a child, the trade ships of the Empire of Masks appear on the horizon. Within just a few years, the empire has taken over her kingdom through trade and plague and the offers of schooling, and Baru's way of life drastically adapts to fit. She is a savant with numbers and logic, and at the end of her schooling she is offered the position of Imperial Accountant to one of the empire's rebellious conquered nations. In Aurdwynn she is already disadvantaged by her gender, foreign heritage, ...more
Sep 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
Grāmata sākas ar autora solījumu:

Šī ir patiesība. Tu to zināsi, jo tā ir sāpīga.

Un, cepuri nost, savu solījumu viņš tur.

Mazā Baru Cormorant dzīvo idillisku bērnību paradīzes saliņā Taranoke kopā ar savu mammu un diviem tētiem, līdz kādu dienu pie horizonta parādās kuģi ar sarkanām burām. Tie ir Masquerade impērijas kuģi, kas atveduši Baru tautai postu. Impērija nāk ar savu bagātību un zālēm (pret slimību, kuru paši ievazā) un sanitāro sistēmu, taču, lai to dabūtu, ir jāpakļaujas impērijas kultūr
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Since his 2012 debut, Seth's fiction has appeared in Clarkesworld, Lightspeed, Analog, and nearly every other major science fiction and fantasy market.

He's a lapsed student of social neuroscience, where he studied the role of racial bias in police shootings, and the writer of much of the lore and fictional flavor for Bungie Studios' smash hit Destiny. In his spare time he works on the collaborati
More about Seth Dickinson

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“This is the truth. You will know because it hurts.” 31 likes
“Freedom granted by your rulers is just a chain with a little slack.” 24 likes
More quotes…