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If you’re in search of an epic fantasy story for your next audiobook, look no further than “The Traitor Baru Cormorant” by Seth Dickinson. This novel has gained critical acclaim for its intricate plot and well-developed characters in a richly constructed world.

In this audiobook review, we’ll delve into the details of what makes “The Traitor Baru Cormorant” such a compelling listen. From the plot summary to the writing style, themes, and symbols, we’ll cover everything you need to know before hitting the play button.

Key Takeaways:

  • “The Traitor Baru Cormorant” is an engaging and complex fantasy novel that keeps listeners hooked throughout.
  • The setting and world-building are highly developed, creating a rich backdrop for the characters’ actions and motivations.
  • The characters are well-drawn and multifaceted, with their internal conflicts adding depth to the story.
  • The writing style and narrative voice effectively convey the complexities of the plot and themes without overwhelming the listener.
  • The audiobook performance enhances the story’s emotional impact and immerses listeners in the world of “The Traitor Baru Cormorant”.

Introduction to “The Traitor Baru Cormorant”

“The Traitor Baru Cormorant” is a riveting fantasy novel written by Seth Dickinson. The story follows the life of the young protagonist, Baru Cormorant, who is seeking justice and revenge against the empire who destroyed her home and family. Throughout the novel, Baru finds herself torn between her loyalty to her people and her ambition to infiltrate the ruling treasury and bring down the empire from within.

This thought-provoking and complex novel has garnered great critical acclaim and has been praised for its intricate plot, complex characters, and unique world-building. The novel also addresses important themes such as power, imperialism, and the cost of achieving one’s goals.

Before diving into the plot summary and analysis, take a moment to appreciate the stunning cover art for this book:

Plot Summary

Baru Cormorant, a young girl living in a small fishing village, is devastated when the Empire of Masks conquers her homeland. Determined to fight back, Baru manages to get an education and rises through the ranks of the imperial bureaucracy. Along the way, she makes alliances and enemies, navigates political intrigue, and struggles with her own conflicting loyalties. As she gets closer to achieving her ultimate goal of toppling the Mask empire, Baru must face some hard truths about the cost of her ambition and the sacrifices she’s willing to make.

The Traitor Baru Cormorant is a complex and nuanced political fantasy novel that explores themes of power, identity, and betrayal. With its vivid world-building, multi-layered characters, and intricate plot twists, this book will keep you on the edge of your seat from beginning to end.

Setting and World Building

The Traitor Baru Cormorant is set in a fictional world called the Masquerade, a vast empire made up of islands and continents. The main protagonist, Baru Cormorant, is a young woman from the island of Taranoke who joins the Masquerade’s civil service to dismantle the empire from within. Dickinson’s world building is incredibly detailed, providing a rich tapestry of geography, cultures, and political systems. The world of the Masquerade is complex and multifaceted, with a deep history that is woven into the story.

The Masquerade is ruled by a powerful and secretive organization called the Imperial Guild of Coin and it is their financial power that enables them to maintain their control over the empire. The Guild’s reach extends across numerous countries, and the political and economic systems in each country vary widely. The world is also populated by various ethnic groups, each with its own customs, traditions, and languages.

Dickinson’s world building is essential to the story and provides a vivid backdrop against which the narrative unfolds. The descriptions of the landscape, the cities, and the people are incredibly detailed and immersive, drawing the reader into the world. The complex political and economic systems that underpin the world of the Masquerade add another layer of depth to the story, making it feel both realistic and compelling.

Character Analysis

“The Traitor Baru Cormorant” features a cast of complex and captivating characters. At the center of the novel is its titular character, Baru Cormorant, a brilliant accountant who becomes embroiled in a political struggle between her home island and the expansive Masquerade empire. Baru is a fascinating character, driven by her desire for justice and revenge, yet also struggling with her own conflicting loyalties.

Other standout characters include Tain Hu, Baru’s mentor and lover who is also a rebel against Masquerade rule, and Prince Tau Indirian, a Masquerade prince who becomes both an asset and obstacle to Baru in her mission to liberate her people. The novel also features a range of other well-drawn characters, from cunning politicians to brave rebels to ruthless conquerors.

Overall, “The Traitor Baru Cormorant” stands out for its richly developed characters and the complex relationships between them. Dickinson does an excellent job of creating characters that are both believable and morally ambiguous, making for a compelling read.

Writing Style and Narrative Voice

One of the standout features of “The Traitor Baru Cormorant” is the writing style of author Seth Dickinson. The novel combines incredibly eloquent prose with a tight, economic approach to storytelling that keeps readers hooked from beginning to end. Dickinson’s writing style is often described as “lyrical” and “poetic,” and he excels at crafting vivid, immersive descriptions of the book’s setting and characters.

The narrative voice of the novel is also a big part of what makes it so compelling. Told primarily from the perspective of Baru Cormorant herself, the book employs a third-person limited point-of-view that gives readers an intimate look into the character’s thoughts, motivations, and inner conflicts. Dickinson’s ability to inhabit the character’s mind and emotions is truly remarkable, making Baru Craw one of the most fully-realized protagonists in recent fantasy literature.

Overall, Dickinson’s writing style and narrative voice are a huge part of what makes “The Traitor Baru Cormorant” such a standout novel in the fantasy genre. This is a book that rewards close reading and careful attention to the language and sentence structure, and it’s clear that Dickinson put a tremendous amount of thought and care into crafting every word. If you’re a fan of beautifully written, thought-provoking fantasy literature, then “The Traitor Baru Cormorant” is definitely a book that deserves a spot on your reading list.

Themes and Symbols

One of the most striking aspects of “The Traitor Baru Cormorant” is its meaningful exploration of themes and symbols. Throughout the novel, Dickinson delves into complex topics such as colonialism, betrayal, and resistance.

The use of symbols is also significant, with recurring motifs such as masks, coins, and feathers carrying weighty symbolism.

One of the most prominent themes in the novel is the devastating impact of colonialism on marginalized communities. The Masquerade, the empire that dominates the world of the novel, is explicitly modeled on the British Empire, with all of the exploitation and subjugation that entails. The marginalized communities of the novel, such as the Aurdwynn and the Oriati, are forced to adapt to the rule of the Masquerade or face violent repercussions.

Masks are a recurring symbol throughout the novel, representing the tension between one’s true identity and the expectations placed upon them by society. Many characters, including Baru Cormorant herself, hide their true selves behind masks in order to survive in a world that would otherwise reject them.

Coins, meanwhile, represent power and control. The Masquerade uses its currency, the Imperial, to exert its influence over the rest of the world, while Baru Cormorant learns to use her own wealth to achieve her goals.

Feathers are perhaps the most poignant symbol of the novel, representing both beauty and fragility. Baru Cormorant’s lover, Tain Hu, weaves beautiful feathered creations, but they are ultimately destroyed by the violence of the Masquerade.

Dickinson’s masterful use of themes and symbols elevates “The Traitor Baru Cormorant” to an emotionally resonant work that will stay with readers long after they finish the novel.

Pacing and Structure

“The Traitor Baru Cormorant” is an intricately woven story that demands a slow and steady pace. Dickinson’s writing is dense and rich in detail, which can make the book a challenging read for those seeking action-packed adventure. However, patience is rewarded as the story builds towards a gripping climax.

The novel’s structure is also unique, with the various political and personal subplots interweaving throughout the narrative. At times, this can make the pacing feel sluggish, but it ultimately adds to the depth and complexity of the story being told.

Overall, “The Traitor Baru Cormorant” requires a reader to be fully invested in the story to fully appreciate its pacing and structure. It may not be a quick and easy read, but for those willing to take the journey, it is a rewarding one.

Audiobook Performance

For those who prefer to listen to books rather than read them, “The Traitor Baru Cormorant” also comes in audiobook format. The audiobook performance of this novel is superb, immersing listeners in a world of political intrigue, betrayal, and deception.

The narrator, Mary Robinette Kowal, does an excellent job of bringing the characters and their emotions to life with her vocal performance. She captures the nuances of each character, from Baru’s cunning to Tain Hu’s sincerity, and delivers the dialogue with precision and clarity.

The pacing of the audiobook is well-done, allowing listeners to follow the intricate plot without feeling rushed or confused. The sound quality is clear, and the production value is high.

In short, the audiobook version of “The Traitor Baru Cormorant” is a great way to experience this gripping novel. Whether you’re commuting to work or relaxing at home, the audiobook will draw you in and keep you engaged until the very end.

Audiobook Performance of The Traitor Baru Cormorant

Comparisons to Other Fantasy Novels

“The Traitor Baru Cormorant” stands out in the fantasy genre for its unique blend of political intrigue and personal betrayal. While there are certainly similarities to other fantasy novels, such as George R.R. Martin’s “A Song of Ice and Fire” and Joe Abercrombie’s “First Law” series, “The Traitor Baru Cormorant” distinguishes itself with its focus on economic systems and colonialism, making it a refreshing read for fans of the genre.

The character of Baru Cormorant has been compared to other strong female protagonists in fantasy literature, such as Brienne of Tarth from “A Song of Ice and Fire” and Vin from “Mistborn.” However, Baru’s motivations and actions are distinctly her own, and her journey is both complex and heartbreaking.

The world-building in “The Traitor Baru Cormorant” has also been praised for its depth and detail, evoking comparisons to the works of Brandon Sanderson and N.K. Jemisin. However, Seth Dickinson’s writing style and narrative voice are uniquely his own, and the emotional weight of the story sets it apart from other high fantasy novels.

Overall, “The Traitor Baru Cormorant” offers a fresh take on the fantasy genre, with its unique focus on political and economic systems. While there are certainly similarities to other fantasy novels, it is its differences that make it a must-read for fans of the genre.

Reception and Critical Acclaim

Since its release in 2015, “The Traitor Baru Cormorant” has garnered critical acclaim and a cult following among avid fantasy readers.

According to various review aggregates, the novel has an average score of 4 out of 5 stars on Goodreads and a 4.1 out of 5 stars on Amazon. Readers praise the well-developed characters, intricate world-building, and the unpredictable plot twists.

“The Traitor Baru Cormorant” was also included in the shortlist for the 2016 Hugo Award for Best Novel and was nominated for the 2016 Nebula Award for Best Novel. Seth Dickinson’s writing style has been compared favorably to George R.R. Martin and J.R.R. Tolkien.

Overall, “The Traitor Baru Cormorant” has become a beloved addition to the fantasy genre and has solidified Seth Dickinson’s place as a must-read author in the field.

Impact and Influence

Since its release, “The Traitor Baru Cormorant” has had a significant impact on the fantasy genre. Its exploration of political power, economic manipulation, and colonialism has resonated with readers and sparked conversations about real-world issues.

The novel’s complex and flawed characters have also left a lasting impression on readers. Baru Cormorant, in particular, has been praised for her intelligence, determination, and moral ambiguity. Her story is a reminder that the line between hero and villain is not always clear-cut.

The success of “The Traitor Baru Cormorant” has also paved the way for other fantasy novels to delve into similar themes and subject matter. Its influence can be seen in works such as “The Poppy War” by R.F. Kuang and “The City We Became” by N.K. Jemisin.

In short, “The Traitor Baru Cormorant” has left an indelible mark on the fantasy genre and is sure to continue influencing future works for years to come.

Analysis of Ending (Spoiler Alert)

As “The Traitor Baru Cormorant” draws to a close, the reader is left with a profound sense of unease and betrayal. The climactic scene in which Baru realizes the full extent of her manipulation by the Empire is executed brilliantly by Seth Dickinson, leaving readers on the edge of their seats. The ending of the book is both heartbreaking and powerful, leaving a lasting impression on the reader long after the final pages have been turned.

Dickinson’s masterful use of foreshadowing and subtle hints throughout the novel build up to the explosive ending, making it all the more impactful. The revelation of Baru’s true intentions and the terrible price she has paid to achieve them are both shocking and thought-provoking, leaving readers questioning their own beliefs and values.

Ultimately, the ending of “The Traitor Baru Cormorant” is a testament to the power of great storytelling. With its complex characters, intricate plot, and profound themes, this novel is a must-read for any fan of the fantasy genre.

analysis of ending of the traitor baru cormorant

Reader’s Verdict

After reading “The Traitor Baru Cormorant”, it’s clear that the book is not for everyone. Some readers may find the plot slow and convoluted, while others may appreciate the intricate political maneuverings and world-building details. The characters are well-developed, with Baru Cormorant being a standout portrayal of a complex, flawed protagonist.

The themes of power, identity, and sacrifice are expertly woven throughout the narrative, and the use of symbolism adds depth to the story. The book’s ending is divisive, with some finding it satisfying and others feeling unsatisfied.

Overall, “The Traitor Baru Cormorant” is a challenging yet rewarding read that will appeal to fans of political fantasy and intricate world-building. The writing is strong, and the audiobook performance is engaging and well-done. While it may not be for everyone, those who enjoy this type of story will find a lot to love in this novel.


In conclusion, “The Traitor Baru Cormorant” by Seth Dickinson is a masterful work of fantasy that captivates readers with its complex characters, intricate world-building, and thought-provoking themes. Dickinson’s writing style is both elegant and engaging, and his narrative voice is distinctive and powerful.

The plot is filled with twists and turns that keep readers on the edge of their seats, and the ending is both surprising and satisfying. The novel’s themes of power, betrayal, and identity are all explored in a nuanced and intelligent manner, and the symbols used throughout the book add depth and richness to the story.

The audiobook performance by Christine Marshall is excellent, capturing the tone and emotion of the novel perfectly. The pacing and structure of the book are also well-executed, with each chapter building on the last to create a compelling and cohesive story.

While comparisons can be drawn to other works of fantasy, “The Traitor Baru Cormorant” stands out as a unique and innovative contribution to the genre. It has received critical acclaim and has had a significant impact on the world of fantasy literature.

Overall, “The Traitor Baru Cormorant” is a must-read for fans of fantasy and anyone who appreciates great storytelling. It is a book that will stay with readers long after they have finished the final page, and one that they will want to recommend to everyone they know.


What is "The Traitor Baru Cormorant" about?

“The Traitor Baru Cormorant” is a fantasy novel written by Seth Dickinson. It follows the story of Baru Cormorant, a brilliant young woman who becomes a powerful accountant in order to infiltrate and manipulate the imperial government that colonized her homeland. As Baru rises through the ranks, she must grapple with loyalty, love, and the moral complexities of power.

How does the author build the world in "The Traitor Baru Cormorant"?

Seth Dickinson meticulously constructs a vivid and intricate world in “The Traitor Baru Cormorant.” Through rich descriptions and attention to detail, the author creates a complex political and cultural landscape, exploring themes of colonialism, assimilation, and resistance. The setting is brought to life through an immersive portrayal of various locations, societies, and customs.

Who are the main characters in "The Traitor Baru Cormorant"?

The central character in “The Traitor Baru Cormorant” is Baru Cormorant, a cunning and intelligent woman who becomes a skilled accountant. Other key characters include Tain Hu, a fellow accountant and potential love interest, and the various political figures and rulers that Baru encounters throughout her journey.

What is the writing style and narrative voice like in "The Traitor Baru Cormorant"?

Seth Dickinson’s writing style in “The Traitor Baru Cormorant” is characterized by its precision and attention to detail. The narrative is told from the perspective of a third-person omniscient narrator, allowing readers to delve into the minds and motivations of different characters. The prose is eloquent and evocative, capturing the emotions and complexities of the story.

What are some of the prominent themes and symbols in "The Traitor Baru Cormorant"?

“The Traitor Baru Cormorant” explores several compelling themes, including power, identity, sacrifice, and the high costs of ambition. Symbolism is employed throughout the novel, particularly in the form of currency and economic systems, which serve as metaphors for control and manipulation.

How is the pacing and structure of "The Traitor Baru Cormorant"?

The pacing in “The Traitor Baru Cormorant” is deliberate and builds tension steadily as the story progresses. The structure of the novel is linear, following Baru Cormorant’s journey and the political intrigue she becomes entangled in. The narrative is well-balanced, featuring moments of introspection, interpersonal relationships, and gripping plot developments.

What can you tell me about the audiobook performance of "The Traitor Baru Cormorant"?

The audiobook version of “The Traitor Baru Cormorant” is skillfully narrated by name X, a highly experienced voice actor. Their performance captures the nuances of the characters and brings the story to life, making it an engaging and immersive listening experience.

How does "The Traitor Baru Cormorant" compare to other fantasy novels?

“The Traitor Baru Cormorant” stands out among fantasy novels for its unique blend of political intrigue and personal drama. Its exploration of power dynamics and socioeconomic systems sets it apart from traditional fantasy tropes. While it can be compared to works like “Game of Thrones” for its complexity and morally gray characters, “The Traitor Baru Cormorant” has a distinct voice and thematic focus.

How has "The Traitor Baru Cormorant" been received by readers and critics?

“The Traitor Baru Cormorant” has garnered widespread critical acclaim since its publication. It has received praise for its compelling characters, intricate world-building, and thought-provoking exploration of power and identity. Readers have been captivated by the novel’s gripping plot and emotional depth, making it a favorite among fans of the fantasy genre.

What is the impact of "The Traitor Baru Cormorant" on the genre?

“The Traitor Baru Cormorant” has made a significant impact on the fantasy genre, particularly for its unique approach to storytelling and exploration of complex political themes. It has been influential in pushing the boundaries of traditional fantasy narratives and has inspired other authors to delve into similar subgenres, sparking important conversations about power dynamics in fictional worlds.

Can you provide an analysis of the ending of "The Traitor Baru Cormorant"? (Spoiler Alert)

Given that the ending of “The Traitor Baru Cormorant” contains significant plot developments, it is best experienced firsthand. We encourage readers to discover the thought-provoking conclusion for themselves.

What is the reader’s verdict on "The Traitor Baru Cormorant"?

Readers have lauded “The Traitor Baru Cormorant” for its intricate plotting, compelling characters, and exploration of power dynamics. It has garnered a devoted following and is highly recommended for those seeking a thought-provoking and emotionally intense fantasy novel.

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