The Traitor Baru Cormorant (The Masquerade, #1)
by Seth Dickinson (Goodreads Author)
Baru’s home is colonized by the Masquerade, an all-powerful regime, reminiscent of the British Empire. She is re-educated, taken in as an Imperial Accountant and sent to another colony to prove herself.
The book is split in three parts. There is Baru‘s coming of age and education, her rise to power within the politics and scheming of the new land she is sent to and the rest you have to find out for yourself.
I got a A Memory Called Empire vibe early on. The setting is quite different and Baru was not as enchanted with her colonizers, but still… I was immediately intrigued with the setting from the viewpoint of the colonized people. The early world building was excellent and I really liked Baru‘s home.
This first part of the book felt very different to the latter parts. Almost like a different book. More lively, more emotional. Later on Baru plots her course of power and betrayal in a more removed and controlled way. It made it hard for me to empathize with her and establish an emotional connection.
There was also too much telling and too little showing. Much of the action happened in the off. The warfare and battles felt a bit like reading a dry, historical account. I prefer to take part in the action, rather than reading a scholarly textbook.
If I had connected more with Baru on an emotional level, I am sure the ending would have been absolutely terrifying. It still packed a punch, but it lacked the emotional impact that I would have experienced with a character I truly felt for. It was more of a „Oh, right! D-oh!“-moment.
Bottomline, it took me a long time to get through this. Largely because of the dense prose. At times it got complicated with all that scheming. But also because I didn‘t really care for Baru. A twisted and ultimately cruel, but fascinating tale. Especially the ending was painful to read. The likelihood that I will read the sequel at some point is high.
Ps: I assume the offensive language was on purpose, but it still rankled.