Picture of author.

Seth Dickinson

Author of The Traitor Baru Cormorant

11+ Works 2,376 Members 123 Reviews 2 Favorited

About the Author

Includes the name: Seth Dickinson


Works by Seth Dickinson

Associated Works

The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2016 (2016) — Contributor — 160 copies
Worlds Seen in Passing: Ten Years of Tor.com Short Fiction (2018) — Contributor — 123 copies
The Best Science Fiction of the Year: Volume 1 (2016) — Contributor — 97 copies
Upgraded (2014) — Contributor — 77 copies
The Year's Best Science Fiction & Fantasy, 2017 Edition (2017) — Contributor — 64 copies
Some of the Best from Tor.com: 2015 Edition (2016) — Contributor — 59 copies
The Year's Best Science Fiction & Fantasy, 2016 Edition (2016) — Contributor — 56 copies
The Year's Best Military SF & Space Opera (2015) — Contributor — 43 copies
The Year's Best Military & Adventure SF, Volume 2 (2016) — Contributor — 27 copies
Clarkesworld: Year Eight (2016) — Contributor — 18 copies
Clarkesworld: Issue 111 (December 2015) (2015) — Author, some editions — 14 copies
Clarkesworld: Issue 086 (November 2013) (2013) — Contributor — 11 copies
Clarkesworld: Issue 090 (March 2014) (2014) — Contributor — 9 copies
Lightspeed Magazine, Issue 64 • September 2015 (2015) — Contributor — 9 copies
Some of the Best from Tor.com: 15th Anniversary Edition (2023) — Contributor — 9 copies
Beneath Ceaseless Skies Issue #200 (2016) — Contributor — 7 copies
Lightspeed Magazine, Issue 79 • December 2016 (2016) — Excerpt — 7 copies
Shimmer 2014: The Collected Stories (2016) — Contributor — 3 copies
Beneath Ceaseless Skies Issue #104 (2012) — Author — 2 copies
Beneath Ceaseless Skies Issue #145 — Contributor — 1 copy


2015 (13) 2016 (12) anthology (122) colonialism (23) currently-reading (17) ebook (128) economics (10) epic fantasy (13) fantasy (373) fiction (192) genre-sci-fi (10) goodreads (27) hardcover (11) imperialism (12) Kindle (62) lgbt (18) LGBTQ (28) magazine (19) magazines (16) military (12) novel (13) own (11) owned (16) politics (15) queer (14) read (32) read in 2016 (12) science fiction (259) Science Fiction/Fantasy (13) series (25) sf (54) sff (39) short fiction (34) short stories (112) short story (11) speculative fiction (31) Star Wars (43) the masquerade (15) to-read (486) unread (32)

Common Knowledge



Actual rating 2.5/5

I received an e-arc of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. This did not affect my opinion of the book in any way.

Ok, so, I am definitely in the minority on this, so it is highly likely that you may disagree with me, but... I was deeply disappointed by this book. I went in with very high (maybe too high) expectations and I desperately wanted to like this. But I just didn't.

I guess there were quite a few things that just didn't work for me personally. For starters, the writing style didn't quite manage to catch my attention. It wasn't objectively bad, mind you, but it just didn't draw me in... This is of course an incredibly personal thing, but I found it heavy at best, and had real issues in keeping concentrated throughout the book. This was made worse by the fact that for about 25% of the book, I actually had no idea who anyone was.

Now, I am notoriously bad at learning names, but apart from our main character, Baru, I had just about no clue who we were talking about... And more than a quarter into the book is just too late for me to start figuring out who's who. The main flaw, for me, was the fact that several characters were presented at once, with no real chance for me to actually associate names and roles before the next one came in. And, as any fantasy book worthy of this name would have it, each character just has to have a more complicated name than the one who came before... It must be some sort of rule. Throw in some geographical locations too (though points for having a map at the beginning!) and... voilà! You now have a throughly confused reader just hoping she'll eventually figure out what's happening.

This was all just extremely frustrating for me, and it did impact on my enjoyment of the book as a whole. It's definitely something that relates to my personal taste, but reading is an entirely personal experience, so it's possible it won't bother you at all...

BUT! Not all was bad here, there were actually things I did enjoy, starting with diversity. There is an incredible variety of characters in this book, starting with Baru herself. She is a strong, independent woman, who'll stop at nothing to achieve her goals. And she just so happens to be an LGBT and black character. I loved the fact that the diverse characteristics weren't the main focus of Baru's character: they are just a part of who she is, no more and no less than her mathematical abilities, her fierceness, or her focus. However, I had real issues in getting attached to Baru, although it is possible that I was just so focused on navigating the rest of the book that I didn't take enough notice of her... Still, I hardly ever felt anything for her, good or bad. The rest of the characters (when I eventually managed to figure them out) were just sort of "there", and didn't really give me that much emotion... Which was a shame, because there was some real potential there.

I also liked the themes this book touches on and the reflection points it raises. Aside from Baru's personal mission, which is the main focus of the book, several questions are raised in relation to important and relatively unexplored themes, such as the rights of minorities; the issues relating to conquest and the relationship between conqueror and indigenous peoples; progress vs civil liberties, and so on... For me, this was probably the best thing in the whole book, and possibly the only reason I actually got to the end of it.

All in all, I had a very difficult relationship with this book. I had to seriously force myself to see the end of it, because for a very big part I was tempted to DNF it. Contrary to the majority of books, this one had no sprint in the beginning, picked up a lot in the middle, started lacking tension again towards the end and exploded at the very end. This continuos increase and decrease in tension, coupled with confusing characters and settings made this a very difficult read for me personally, even though I adored the themes explored by the author and the questions he raised. As I said, this book just didn't work for me based on my taste, so if it still makes you curious, by all means give it a try! It may be that the things that didn't work for me won't actually be an issue for you.
… (more)
bookforthought | 85 other reviews | Nov 7, 2023 |
Not for the faint of heart. Great world-building, a gripping plot, and some genuinely gut-wrenching moments. I'm weary of the "outmaneuvering political genius" trope, though, partly because it seems more and more unrealistic to me and partly because of the year we're having as a world. Still an excellent book.
mmparker | 85 other reviews | Oct 24, 2023 |
Not quite as good as the first installment but still an excellent read that leaves me waiting for the final book.
levlazarev | 17 other reviews | Oct 18, 2023 |
This was another one of my series-sampling audio listens, to see if I might want to pursue it in print someday. The verdict: NO!

Audio Narration
The narrator is Christine Marshall. I didn’t really care for her narration. Something indefinable just didn’t work for me. Part of it might be that I disliked Baru, so maybe that influenced my feelings for the voice that was narrating her, but I felt the same way even in the beginning when I was still interested in her.

I definitely had some trouble telling who was talking at times, as well as telling if Baru was speaking out loud or internally. The narrator could have done better at distinguishing voices, but I also blame this issue to some extent on the text itself for not having more cues that would work well in an audio format. I have by this point listened to many narrators who didn’t do the greatest job at distinguishing between character voices, and it can be a non-issue if the text itself makes it clear.

When Baru’s a child, her people are conquered by an empire with advanced technology and a rigid belief system. Baru’s intelligence captures the attention of the empire and she’s sent to one of their schools. She excels there, but she never forgets her roots, and hopes to gain power within the empire so that she can eventually bring about their downfall. When she finishes school, the empire sends her to be the “Imperial Accountant” in a position where her two predecessors were both murdered.

In the beginning, I thought I was going to like this. Baru seemed like an interesting and nuanced character, and the story was heavily political which is something I often enjoy. However, all the plotting and the politics somehow began to grow tedious and I started spacing out on it. Additionally, I grew to dislike Baru more and more. With neither the main character nor the story holding my interest, this became a chore to listen to.

Baru is portrayed as a savant, at least in terms of finances and political strategy. However, I wasn’t convinced that she always made logical decisions. In any case, she often seemed incapable of considering multiple perspectives or accounting for the possible actions and reactions of the people around her. She’s very single-minded, wanting to achieve her goals at all costs, no matter how much damage her actions cause. I was sick to death of her by the end.

The following is a big spoiler for the ending. I thought the title at least somewhat spoiled the twist(?) at the end, when Baru betrays her fellow traitors. If the title had just referred to her being a traitor to the empire, it would have seemed way too obvious. I knew it was definitely possible that there was nothing more to it than the obvious explanation, but I’d also considered that it might have a double meaning, so I wasn’t surprised by her choices. Besides, it seemed like the scummy sort of thing she’d do. I also very much disliked the connivance to keep this “twist” from the reader even though we were in Baru’s head. It didn’t feel genuine to me that she’d simply blocked it from her mind until the moment came because she was so horrified by it. Having Baru question herself about it afterward and bemoan it at length didn’t make it feel more genuine for me.
… (more)
YouKneeK | 85 other reviews | Aug 19, 2023 |



You May Also Like

Associated Authors

Tom Angleberger Contributor
Chris Trevas Illustrator
Amy Ratcliffe Contributor
Beth Revis Contributor
Lilliam Rivera Contributor
Cavan Scott Contributor
Emily Skrutskie Contributor
Karen Strong Contributor
Anne Toole Contributor
Austin Walker Contributor
Daniel José Older Contributor
Martha Wells Contributor
Django Wexler Contributor
Kiersten White Contributor
Gary Whitta Contributor
Charles Yu Contributor
Jim Zub Contributor
Mark Oshiro Contributor
Michael Moreci Contributor
Zoraida Córdova Contributor
Alexander Freed Contributor
Sarwat Chadda Contributor
SA Chakraborty Contributor
Mike Chen Contributor
Adam Christopher Contributor
Katie Cook Contributor
Delilah S. Dawson Contributor
Tracy Deonn Contributor
Jason Fry Contributor
Christie Golden Contributor
Hank Green Contributor
Rob Hart Contributor
Lydia Kang Contributor
Michael Kogge Contributor
R.F. Kuang Contributor
CB Lee Contributor
Mackenzi Lee Contributor
Sam Weber Cover artist


Also by

Charts & Graphs