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The Traitor Baru Cormorant (Dickinson) [Oct. 31st, 2015|09:03 pm]
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Ugh, I think work is finally letting up. That's what I said last month, and the month before, but I think it's actually true this time. Anyway.

4/5. I... have all sorts of conflicting feelings about this book.

The first third is amazing, sort of like Goblin Emperor meets Dune with a side helping of colonialism and polyamory/queerness. Baru is an accountant! Who deals with political intrigue and solves Epic Fantasy Problems through the Power of Economics! I would totally happily read an entire novel of Baru dealing with political intrigue and smacking down factions with Economic Theory!

...that's only part of what this novel is.

The second two-thirds are really well-written and well-done, and -- well -- so, remember how when I read Goblin Emperor I really liked it but thought it was awfully light on political intrigue and kind of wanted more? I TAKE IT BACK. I TAKE IT ALL BACK. ACTUALLY I DON'T WANT POLITICAL INTRIGUE THANKS I CHANGED MY MIND MAIA CAN JUST BE SWEET AND PEOPLE CAN JUST BE NICE TO HIM OKAY.

So -- you know how Goblin Emperor is all warm and fuzzy? Traitor is the kind of book where the warm fuzziness turns out to actually be mold. So, yeah, if you're in the mood for grim, I do very much recommend this book (with one caveat under the cut).

I wish I'd known that it was grim, because although I admire the surprise shock of "hey look, this world is super grim after all!" and think it was very well done -- there are hints of darkness in the beginning and so it's a logical conclusion -- the first part is mostly bright and cuddly and so I was expecting it to be a lot like Goblin Emperor. And it SO WAS NOT. And it left a bad taste in the experience of the book for me; I almost stopped reading right there. (In fact, I might have skipped the bits where it was clear something bad was going to happen, until it actually did happen.)

The other thing is -- so there's this plot element. And Dickinson plays fair, and it's tight-third POV, and all the character motivations are laid out very logically, so if you're paying attention it's pretty clear what that plot element is (and, I mean, I'm talking as someone who very rarely figures out these things). So I spent the last third of the book waiting for it to be revealed, and it's revealed pretty much at the very end (like, the last 20 pages or so). This meant I was emotionally distanced from that whole part of the book, because I was just waiting for that shoe to drop.
In any case, I still really liked this book, to the extent that Seth Dickinson has gone on my short list of authors for whom I'll be checking out everything he writes. But... but!
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: ricardienne
2015-11-01 08:05 am (UTC)
Okay, maybe I need to pick this one up again. I petered out about half way through, partly because it looked like Dickinson might not be following through on a certain Plot Element he seemed to be setting up. But it sounds like he did, so maybe I owe it to him to finish.
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[User Picture]From: ricardienne
2015-11-01 10:10 am (UTC)
p.s. I can't wait to talk Ancillary Mercy with you.
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[User Picture]From: charlie_ego
2015-11-05 04:57 am (UTC)
YES ME TOO! You inspired me to actually finish the darn thing and get a post. Hold up a bit :)
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[User Picture]From: charlie_ego
2015-11-05 04:56 am (UTC)
Yep, I think we're talking about the same Plot Element here :) He does follow through, but it's only in really small dribbles until the end, at which point it's all wrapped up pretty quickly. In thinking about it more, I think it might be a pacing problem -- I also kind of petered out and ended up skimming a lot of the last half because I kept waiting for him to get to it already.

I do think the epilogue is worth reading even if you skip/skim most of the last half.
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