The Traitor Baru Cormorant (The Masquerade, #1) by Seth Dickinson

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“I will remake the world so that no woman will ever have to do this again.”

I’ve been sitting here, looking at a blank word document, for almost twenty minutes. I don’t even know how to possibly start a review for this book. I can honestly say that I have never read anything, in my entire life, like The Traitor Baru Cormorant by Seth Dickinson. This book was so very quiet, but it spoke so very loudly to me. But this is easily one of the best books I’ve read in my entire life.

Baru Cormorant learns from a very young age that her home will never be safe. For the first seven years of her life, she loved her home with her mother and two fathers. But that all changed the day Masquerade soldiers conquered Taranoke. This book heavily talks about colonization and how the colonizers will take everything, while expecting you to be grateful for them “liberating” the natives.

“Freedom granted by your rulers is just a chain with a little slack.”

This book also heavily talks about gender roles and sexuality. Baru is a lesbian, and it is truly her greatest fear in this world, since one of her fathers got taken away for being “unhygienic”. This is a dark book, and these are constant themes that completely are the reason Baru does the things that she does. But this was a very hard read at times, so please use caution.

Content and trigger warnings for homophobia (always in a negative light, but still very abundant throughout the story), racism, colonialism, sexism, misogynistic comments, talk of genital mutilation. torture, murder, death, animal deaths, graphic violence, loss of a loved one, inhumane conditioning treatments, off-screen rape and forced reproduction, and constant war themes. Also, a queer character does die in this book, and it hurts, a lot, so use extra caution.

But Baru plays the part that the colonizers want her to; she leaves her home, she becomes a student, she becomes a powerful accountant, she becomes what the throne wants her to be, and she never loses sight of her goals. Because Baru knows this is the only way she can truly free people from the oppressors who think they carry out their evil actions in the name of good. This is a book about a girl trying to break a seemingly unbreakable system, using the methods that her oppressors taught her, and it’s so smart, and so painful, and such a gift to the literary world.

I’ve never read a book that’s so multi-faceted before. Every page has a new angle that makes you completely reexamine the entire story. This story is so political, while also realistically depicting what war is like from the winning and losing sides, while completely putting the chaos and heartbreak at the forefront of the story. You won’t know who to trust, which is hilarious because Baru truly is a reliable narrator, but the set up just makes you not want to believe what you’re reading.

But ultimately, this is a book about power and all the terrible things people are willing to do to gain it. There are so many ways to find power and to be able to harness it for yourself. And during this entire book, we get to see Baru do everything in her power to try to carve out a substantial amount of power so that she will be able to change the world.

“This is the truth. You will know because it hurts.”

And you know from the very start, that Baru will ultimately be the villain of this story. Yet, I’ve never read a better depiction of betrayal in any form of literature before. Seth Dickinson has created something so unique, so special, and this story truly feels like a once in a lifetime series. I feel like this isn’t a book that everyone will love, but the people who do love it will love it with their entire heart and soul.

Overall, I loved this book more than any review that I could possibly write (and do this story any semblance of justice). And I am so happy that this is the book that I chose for my birthday buddy reads this year. I mean, I could have probably picked something that didn’t completely rip my heart out upon the last day of reading, but I don’t think I could have picked a more impactful book. I know this last chapter will haunt me for so long to come. I cannot wait to read The Monster Baru Cormorant this October.

And if you did buddy read this with me, thank you so much. Forever thankful for this community and for everyone who takes the time to read my reviews. I’m forever blessed to be a part of this book community, and to have friends that make it feel like it’s my birthday all year round. I love you all! You all bless me every single day. I’ll cherish this story forever and always. (And Tain Hu, Aurdwynn’s rebel duchess of Vultjag, is my only fictional crush, now and forever.) 💗

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41 thoughts on “The Traitor Baru Cormorant (The Masquerade, #1) by Seth Dickinson

  1. I really loved this book as well when I read it last year and I was so excited to see that this was a five-star read for you! I’ve definitely got The Monster Baru Cormorant on my tbr list for when it comes out in October. Thanks for the fun review! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Awh, thank you for this sweet comment, Sara! I couldn’t believe how much it… just blew me away. Unlike anything else! I hope you’re currently having happy reading, love! 💕xx


  2. Great review, Melanie!

    You know, I had thought this was a world without much racism, but you mentioning it as a trigger warning. . .

    Well, I thought about it and realized that the Maia and Stakhi people WERE looked down on by the Masquerade. So, racism. . . Yeah.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, Jen! And yeah, you totally hit the nail on the dead during day 1’s reading, honestly! Hehe! I’m so happy you enjoyed, too, and thank you so much for buddy reading this with me. What a damn… great first book to do our first one with! Hahah! I love you! 💕xx

      Liked by 1 person

  3. This sounds like such a powerful book indeed! I love we get conflicting/underdogs/anti-heroes as protagonists, it just steps up the reading game sooo much.
    I’m really glad this one touched you in a way you hadn’t expected, Mel. It truly is the greatest gift a book can give us.
    And to think the author is male and was able to create such a realistic and accurate account of a lesbian girl, who also happens to be non-white. Wow. Kudos!
    As always, amazing review ❤️

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Sophie… this comment made me tear up? Lord, help me! Thank YOU so much for this comment! Seriously… thank you. And I love you more than words. Happy September and happy reading, love! 💖xx


    1. Awh, thank you so much! And don’t you be sorry WHATSOEVER! I promise, you completely helped make my birthday amazing – and no reading was required! hehe! I LOVE YOU! Happy September and happy reading, love! 💖xx

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, Kaleena love! And.. it was a damn feeling party at the end of this one, so I completely understand! Hahaha! Thank you so much, again, for buddy reading it with me! It meant the world to me! 💛xx


  4. This book sounds amazing (*ping* added to my TBR)! I’m sad I missed out on your birthday buddy read this year, but glad you had a fab (even though it was emotional) story to devour!

    Have you started Girl Made of Stars? I’ve got it checked out from the library and would still love to buddy read that with you and anyone else in the group 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Awh, don’t be sad, my love! I am so happy you’re adding this one on your TBR! I haven’t started Girl Made of Stars yet, but I would be HONORED to buddy read with you! Pick any day from the 17-21st to start (if that works for you), and we can read together and for contemporary a thon! 💛xx


    1. Awh, thank you so much, Sarah. Yeah… the end of this maybe the hardest thing I’ve ever read in my entire life. For sure one of the most emotional things! So use caution! But this book is such a masterpiece! Happy reading, beautiful! 💖xx

      Liked by 1 person

  5. This sounds Incredible! Your reviews always want to make me add books to my TBR! So glad you loved it and if you ever do another buddy read, I would love to join!

    Liked by 1 person

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