maandag 29 februari 2016

Seth Dickinson: The Traitor Baru Cormorant

Hi everyone

I read The Traitor Baru Cormorant by Seth Dickinson as part of a buddyread with a few people from Booktube; Michael, Kaitlin, James, Chelsea and PT. You can find their channels by clicking on their names.
My beautiful copy has 399 pages and I got it from Book Depository.

“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, 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, and join the Masquerade. She will learn the secrets of empire. She’ll be exactly what they need. And she'll claw her way high enough up the rungs of power to set her people free.
In a final test of her loyalty, the Masquerade will send Baru to bring order to distant Aurdwynn, a snakepit of rebels, informants, and seditious dukes. Aurdwynn kills everyone who tries to rule it. To survive, Baru will need to untangle this land’s intricate web of treachery - and conceal her attraction to the dangerously fascinating Duchess Tain Hu.
But Baru is a savant in games of power, as ruthless in her tactics as she is fixated on her goals. In the calculus of her schemes, all ledgers must be balanced, and the price of liberation paid in full.”

                *  SPOILERS  *

I loved the start of the novel. Baru’s homeland and its culture are very interesting. Same-sex marriage is allowed and having more than two parents is considered normal.
But her homeland was never a really important part of the story so you should just forget about it.
Revenge for her homeland is supposed to be Baru’s motivation but it’s not. It’s barely mentioned once she goes on her mission and she seldom thinks about it.
It was saddening but also amazing to read how The Masquerade takes over her country; not through warfare but first by trade, economic policy and finance, then by schooling and lawmaking. I thought that genius.  They made things better too by providing schooling, laws and medical care so you can’t just blame them for everything. That was a very interesting element in the book.
I enjoyed Baru’s struggle with her sexuality and her race. It was quite fascinating at times and I never felt like it was too prominently featured in the story. It’s a very important part of her and the story.
The way The Masquerade is governed by a lobotomized ruler is great too.
And I loved the premise where Baru wants to take down the Empire from the inside out.

It went down after Baru was sent on her first assignment though.
I thought the story rather predictable. The writing was readable but slow and the plot very boring.
I felt detached from the characters throughout the whole novel. And I certainly didn’t care for any of them. The story never really grabbed me, it was too drawn out and slow.
Baru made me really mad when she went into that funk. She’s a pathetic drunk and she doesn’t even care herself. And she lost so much time by not caring, feeling sorry for herself and being drunk.
The way the rebellion was written made it even more slow and boring. It’s longwinded and overcomplicated without much action. I never felt engrossed in the novel. I never really felt anything while reading the book.
It was hard to keep up with all the characters too. There are so many of them and I find the characterization really lacking. Most of them did not stand out to me; they all felt the same.

The ending is overhyped in my opinion. It did redeem the slow 200 pages in between the amazing beginning and ending a bit but not nearly enough to say that I loved the novel. It didn’t really surprise or shock me. I had a few options in my head about the plot and it was one of these different ways the book went.
It’s not really dark or bleak but it’s anything but a happy ending.

All in all, I enjoyed reading the book because it is so different but it a struggle to get through it.

4 STARS

Happy reading.
Helena

Chocolate milk and a new book. Bliss.