The Traitor Baru Cormorant

Tor. Sept. 2015. 400p. ISBN 9780765380722. $25.99; ebk. ISBN 9781466875128. FANTASY
OrangeReviewStarAfter her island nation is conquered by forces from the Empire of Masks and one of her two fathers is killed, Baru Cormorant bottles up her grief and hate and joins the Masquerade civil service. Even as she succeeds in her schooling and service exams, she watches her native culture get demolished by the invaders. Despite her high test scores, Baru is not sent to the capital but is instead posted as the new Imperial Accountant to distant Aurdwynn, a land in perpetual rebellion. She navigates the dangerous political waters of her new northern home, while always plotting her next move against the Masquerade.
VERDICT This is an accomplished debut, with a heroine whose motives are murky, seemingly even to herself. The twists and turns our unreliable narrator takes as she pushes the Aurdwynn nobles to rebel reveal her goals yet also expose her loneliness. We've only seen a fraction of the world of the Masquerade and a glimpse of Baru's plans, setting the stage for a compelling series.
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