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Publisher's Summary

In Seth Dickinson's highly anticipated debut The Traitor Baru Cormorant, a young woman from a conquered people tries to transform an empire in this richly imagined geopolitical fantasy. Baru Cormorant believes any price is worth paying to liberate her people - even her soul. 

When the Empire of Masks conquers her island home, overwrites her culture, criminalizes her customs, and murders one of her fathers, Baru vows to swallow her hate, join the empire's civil service, and claw her way high enough to set her people free. Sent as an imperial agent to distant Aurdwynn, another conquered country, Baru discovers it's on the brink of rebellion. Drawn by the intriguing duchess Tain Hu into a circle of seditious dukes, Baru may be able to use her position to help. As she pursues a precarious balance between the rebels and a shadowy cabal within the empire, she orchestrates a do-or-die gambit with freedom as the prize. 

But the cost of winning the long game of saving her people may be far greater than Baru imagines. 

©2015 Seth Dickinson (P)2015 Macmillan Audio

What listeners say about The Traitor Baru Cormorant

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  • Overall
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    5 out of 5 stars

A triumph of a debut!

A terribly cunning display of the untrustworthy narrator (it's in the title, after all!) Baru is an incredibly engaging protagonist, and this fantastical political thriller keeps you guessing about loyalties, love, and what drives a person to ultimate treachery. This narrative weaves a spectacular warning to the readers: of social injustice, imperialism and the profound danger and power that comes from being truly alone in your mind. Machiavellian machinations in a spectacular feat of world building. Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful.

12 people found this helpful

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Read for detail explainations, skip otherwise

This is a hard one to recommend as it really depends on your taste. Especially since it's a long book, make sure you know what your getting into before starting.

As a child Baru Cormorant witness the Empire of Masks conquer her homeland. Not through war but with economics, trade policies and cultural assimilation. Baru vows to tear down this empire from the inside by pretending to be loyal to gain power. Will Baru be able to avoid corruption that comes with power, can she stand by and not only watch, but be the instrument of the empire in conquering another culture, or join their rebellion at the cost of her revenge. Will her outlawed secret desires be discovered?

It reads like a text book on colonialism. It covers in extreme details everything from economics, taxes & trade policies, cultural assimilation, diplomacy, naval & land battles, and family lineage. Often times it feels like the narrative is secondary to allow the author to show us the vast world his has created.

Personally, while I found most of the technical details interesting, and presented with purpose, it started to bog me down and become tiring the last third or quarter. I really liked the ending, I can't say anything about it without spoiling it but it reminded me of a classic story whose ending I also really liked. I can't say which classic without spoiling.

Read if you're REALLY into world building, how things work behind the scenes in terms of politics, bureaucracy and economics. If you read all the in game lore you can find in video games, then give this a read.

24 people found this helpful

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Fantastic story, robotic narrator

Really enjoyed the story but the narrator sounds like a computer program and offers very little variance between character voices.

13 people found this helpful

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Blame the narrator?

I read the first pages of this novel before I decided to buy the audiobook an I was really looking forward to listening to it. But Christine Marshall really took all joy out of listening. All I could think when I was listening was why she was in such a hurry. I actually couldn't finish the novel because of the bad narration. This is some of the worst case of a narrator massacring a novel.

20 people found this helpful

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Terrible, mechanical reading

The reader has no ability to read a sentence in anything resembling a human cadence. I would be unsurprised if this was actually just text-to-speech. I couldn't listen to more than a few minutes.

9 people found this helpful

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Great story, terrible reader

This is an incredibly incentive and gripping story. The audio book narrator, however, seems not to have been familiar with the English words "duchy" and "elided," which was frustrating and distracting.

14 people found this helpful

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Amazing Series!

As a lesbian, I have to say this is not a gunshot to the heart through a random open window like so many other lgbtqia+ series. Everything that happens is so crucial to Baru’s character. I highly recommend reading the entire series as Baru is one of the most well developed female characters I have ever read. My favorite book is the Tyrant. Stick around as the world building and character development is intense! Baru is a wild child!

3 people found this helpful

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Worth the price

as a good, but not great, read. The premise of the book is how a "good" person becomes evil as she works to avenge a real wrong done to her homeland by the empire. Well written with many twists (no spoiler here) it demonstrates how the "ends justify the means" approach destroys lives and damages the humanity of a person pursuing such a path.

A "low magic" and realistic setting (that allows the willing suspension of disbelief) the Traitor Baru Cormorant is a solid addition to the low fantasy genre that does not throw up one fantasy trope after another I have grown use to encountering but ploughs new ground. Yet I found I never really cared about her family and really about her, I am not sure why that is, but I suspect it is due to the author's focus on events and keeping Baru's inner thoughts hidden (because if he did not he would blow up the surprise ending). Having said that the story and writing were good enough (or great enough) to maintain my interest in the book and the coming sequel.

3 people found this helpful

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If you have a problem with is pronunciation give this a miss

I thought the book was good but the narrator can't pronounce, among others the word duchy which is used in what felt like every other sentence it became struggle for me to finish it.

1 person found this helpful

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Great story, bad narration

Story was one of the best I read

Narrator was very monotone which made it hard to follow

1 person found this helpful

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  • Iron Duke
  • 02-10-16

Listen hard to the sample before you buy

The performance is awful. Actually, it's beyond awful. The narrator reads the entire book at the same plodding pace with no intonation, inflection or emotion. When there's no personal pronoun in the text, you'll have no idea if spoken text is by a man or a woman, let alone who they are. Improper annunciation left me really struggling with the fantasy-style names of people and places, many of which are very similar. Listen to the audio sample and decide if you can live with 14 hours of it.

The production isn't great either for not only are there some edit mid-sentence which are completely obvious, there are even a couple of bad splices causing a bit of a stutter.

I found it a painful listen which totally ruined the book for me.

11 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 08-28-20

Excellent book and excellent reader

See above! Well written plot, great characters, gruelling fates and everything you could possibly want from a good book

1 person found this helpful

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  • Vivienne
  • 09-20-19

A Geopolitical Fantasy

An unusual fantasy as it was rooted in political intrigue rather than the usual fantasy tropes.
Certainly thought provoking. Quite a dark tale.
Wish its sequel would be available on Audible

1 person found this helpful

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  • Martin Tomsky
  • 05-24-22

Listen at 95% speed

A genuinely great story but with narration issues. I think they may have sped her up as I listened to it at 95% speed and it was so much better, so it could be production at fault. Regardless, it wasn't a, deal breaker and I can't wait to see how the rest of the story pans out.

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  • ka
  • 12-29-15

Best of the year

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Traitor Baru Cormorant?

The end,even though i worked it out it still had an impact.

Which character – as performed by Christine Marshall – was your favourite?

Tain hu

If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

money conquers

Any additional comments?

On of the best novels of the year

2 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 04-09-21

Good story with small issue in performance

To begin,

The story was good. A good plot with decent characters. It was a bit hard to keep track of all the dukes/duchesses and their lands. For this, the written version would be better so that you can track it more easily. The strategic plans were nice, some of them go over your head if you don’t keep track of them.

Small issue with the performance. The voice that the narrator put for the main character was a bit annoying at first but you get used to it. She adds a high pitch to the voice.

Other than that, not bad. Looking forward to listening to the next book.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 07-13-18

I really enjoyed this book = narration was 10/10

this book came out of the left field for me and I have to say wow! what an excellent and self-contained little story it was! thumbs up. I want more!