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The Traitor Baru Cormorant

(The Masquerade #1)

4.06  ·  Rating details ·  17,602 ratings  ·  3,015 reviews
Baru Cormorant will pay any price to liberate her world — even if it makes her a monster.

When the Empire of Masks conquers her island home and murders one of her fathers, Baru makes a vow: I will never be powerless again. She'll swallow her hate, join the Empire’s civil service, and claw her way high enough to set her people free.

Suspicious of her loyalty, the Masquerade e
Kindle Edition, 400 pages
Published September 15th 2015 by Tor Books
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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.…moreI'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.(less)
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.…moreHey! 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.(less)

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chai ♡
How do you talk about a book that has completely obliterated your capacity for language?

For days after I finished reading The Traitor Baru Cormorant, I searched in some cobwebbed closet of my memory for words that might convey the acuity of my feeling, groping in the dark for any pieces of disused language that might help me make sense of my reading experience—but my arms, each time, closed on nothing.

I could have cried with my frustration. Truly. Instead, I just quietly shelved The Traitor Ba
“I will remake the world so that no woman will ever have to do this again.”

I’ve been sitting here, looking at a blank word document, for almost twenty minutes. I don’t even know how to possibly start a review for this book. I can honestly say that I have never read anything, in my entire life, like The Traitor Baru Cormorant by Seth Dickinson. This book was so very quiet, but it spoke so very loudly to me. But this is easily one of the best books I’ve read in my entire life.

Baru Cor
Oct 31, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Believe me, I’m sad at myself for giving this book 1 star rating but I must be honest, this book was a massive struggle for me to finish.

“This is the truth. You will know because it hurts.”

And you were right, the truth is that I’m disappointed and it really hurt. To be fair, I despised accounting with a fiery passion and my expectation for this book may be too high. I bought this book in January, I’ve been waiting for the release of The Monster Baru Cormorant before I started this on
Aug 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020-reads
As a philosopher once wrote, “Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And if you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you.”

This quote reflects the entire premise of The Traitor Baru Cormorant, perhaps the best book I’ve ever hated. It’s unsettling and unpleasant and still weighs on me — and it is objectively a very good book. It takes guts to create such a protagonist - or perhaps an antagonist - as Baru Cormorant, the c
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
Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin
So I was buddy reading this with my lovelies in my Machalo group but some had to put it aside and some are still reading.

I have so many friends that loved this and I’m super happy for them. But, it just wasn’t for me. I enjoyed some parts but mostly I was bored and had to skim here and there. That’s ending was rough though.

I don’t think I will read the second book.

Anyway, happy reading peeps

Mel 🖤🐶🐺🐾
Reread in April of 2019:
I reread this book on audio in 2019. 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. For some reason, I completely zone out during all the meetings that Baru has with the rebels.

I talk about the reread some in my wrap-up video:

Increased rating from a 1 to a 2.

Original Review:
This book is a rollar coaster of a ride and not in a good way. This book went from som
Mayim de Vries
Aug 22, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Mary ~Ravager of Tomes~
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 all of the above
Kameron Hurley
Dec 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.

Spencer Orey
May 01, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I don't know how Dickinson pulled this off. It's a readable book with a great character and it's also heartbreakingly smart about colonialism and power. I found Baru's awful choices compelling, especially in the first third, as she works to excel in order to someday to overthrow the empire from the inside. My favorite part was her using economic tricks and the general scenario of her as an extra powerful accountant. I didn't like the latter half as much, though it held my interest and sure set b ...more
Allison Hurd
Okay, so. I really did not like this. I knew by page 100 that I wouldn't have a good reading experience, and so everything even mildly irritating that happened afterward turned to immediate aggravation. I don't know why people love this book, unless a twist ending is enough to grab you.

It's full of telling, the only showing is drawn out battles, the dialogue made no sense, the characters were not even flat--they were downright non-existent. I hated Baru and the dukes. I hated the portrayals and
Thomas Wagner
Jul 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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  ·  review of another edition
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
Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
4.5 stars. Who knew a fantasy that combines political scheming, colonialism, war, and a queer accountant who uses financial policies to achieve her aims would be so compelling? The author is brilliant. The pacing lags a little in parts but the ending pulls it all together in an amazing way. I was glued to my chair finishing this up at 2 am last night. :)

Full review to come!

Initial post: Here's the latest freebie for the ebook of the month club! I've heard great things about this novel an
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,
Feb 20, 2021 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: rtc, sapphic
The cover was the best part.
Review to come
Michelle F

probably spoilers throughout, and also this turned out really long. Sorry

I appreciated a lot of the ideas at the core of this book, but I just didn't buy any of it in the execution.

TBC is a revenge tale, ultimately. A brilliant young girl witnesses the colonization and culturally destructive assimilation of her little island nation and vows for a life-long dismantling of the conquering empire via government infiltration. Cool. This sounds neat, yeah?

But, look...Baru is a cold cold fish. Aft
Sep 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Charlotte Kersten
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sep 05, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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  ·  review of another edition
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 that ho
Sep 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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,
David Katzman
Sadly, I gave up halfway through. I just saw no reason to continue forcing my way through what didn’t work for me. This is one of those cases where Goodreads ratings aren’t very helpful. While it’s accurate to say “I did not like it,” this isn’t really a 1-star book. It’s a book where I couldn’t suspend my disbelief because I didn’t believe in the main character and found many of the plot choices awkward and forced.

The Traitor Baru Cormorant is another book like An Unkindness of Ghosts where
Claudia ✨
“This is the truth. You will know because it hurts.”

The Traitor Baru Cormorant is one of a kind. It's a book that will lie to you, gladly, luring you into a sense of false safety. Then it will pull the carpet from underneath your feet, laughing as you fall to your ass like the gullible fool you are, completely astonished.

It's taken me a few weeks to collect myself after that fall, to try to settle in that truth that Seth Dickinson first kept from us and then so smugly shoved us in. His book is r
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
Kitty G Books
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
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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

Other books in the series

The Masquerade (4 books)
  • The Monster Baru Cormorant (The Masquerade, #2)
  • The Tyrant Baru Cormorant (The Masquerade, #3)
  • Untitled (The Masquerade, #4)

Articles featuring this book

  Author C.L. Clark is no newcomer to the sci-fi and fantasy scene. Though she just published her first novel, The Unbroken, earlier this year,...
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“This is the truth. You will know because it hurts.” 66 likes
“Freedom granted by your rulers is just a chain with a little slack.” 50 likes
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