The Traitor Baru Cormorant

The Masquerade #1

Seth Dickinson

fiction fantasy lgbtqia+
challenging dark emotional slow-paced

399 pages | first published 2015

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.

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dark 89%
challenging 73%
tense 53%
sad 48%
adventurous 44%
emotional 40%
mysterious 28%
reflective 18%


slow 51%
medium 44%
fast 4%

Strong character development?

Yes: 74% | It's complicated: 24% | No: 2%

Loveable characters?

It's complicated: 54% | No: 27% | Yes: 18%

Diverse cast of characters?

Yes: 89% | It's complicated: 6% | N/A: 2% | No: 2%

Flaws of characters centre-stage?

Yes: 87% | It's complicated: 10% | N/A: 2%

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