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Shortlisted for the 2016 David Gemmell Morningstar Award for Best Debut
[Published as The Traitor Baru Cormorant in the US]
Baru Cormorant believes any price is worth paying to liberate her people - even her soul.
When the Empire of Masks conquers her island home, criminalizes her customs, and murders one of her Fathers, Baru vows to hide her hate, join the Empire's civil service, and claw her way up enough rungs of power to put a stop to the Emperor's influence and set her people free.
As a natural savant, she is sent as an imperial agent to distant Aurdwynn - a post she worries will never get her the position and power she craves. But Baru soon discovers Aurdwynn is a complex and secretive country, seemingly on the brink of rebellion. All it would need is a match to the tinder . . .
Drawn by the intriguing duchess Tain Hu into a circle of seditious aristocrats, Baru may be able to use her position to stoke a revolution that will threaten to bring the Empire to its knees.
As Baru maintains a precarious balance between the rebels and a shadowy cabal within the Empire, she orchestrates a do-or-die gambit with Aurdwynn's freedom as the prize. But winning the long game of saving her own people may be far more costly than Baru imagines.
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What Reviewers Are Saying
This is eloquent, grown-up, intelligent Fantasy that will keep you thinking long after you finish and will demand that you read and reread it' * SFFWorld.com * As for Seth Dickinson, I can only applaud the sheer audacity and courage to deliver a book like this. It is a triumph of imagination and a powerful reminder of what fantasy is for * Upcoming4.me * The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms meets Guns, Germs, and Steel * Risingshadow.net * Breathtakingly original and carefully crafted, The Traitor by debut novelist Seth Dickinson is one of those very few works that straddle the line between "genre" and "literary" fiction . . . Dickinson's writing is intricate, sometimes delicate, and always absolutely delicious * Fantasyliterature.com * Like its namesake, The Traitor lures you in, puts you at your ease, wins your confidence, and then destroys you . . . It's the way this story gets under your skin and hits you where it really counts that puts it in a class by itself * SF Reviews * A hundred pages in, and I knew The Traitor would be a game-changer * Littleredreviewer * A truly intense, brutal, yet beautiful geopolitical fantasy . . . . I don't think I've actually read anything quite like it * Bookfrivolity * Literally breathtaking . . . a crucial, necessary book * NPR * A highly impressive debut that engages intellectually * Kirkus Reviews * Dickinson's debut, the start of a trilogy set in an impressively well-crafted fantasy world, is assured and impressive . . . Readers will share every one of Baru's strong, suppressed emotions * Publishers Weekly * A fascinating tale of political intrigue and national unrest * Washington Post * Visceral and unflinching, The Traitor employs a rich palate of cultures to explore brutal moral complexities * RACHEL SWIRSKY, Nebula Award-winning author of The Lady Who Plucked Red Flowers Beneath the Queen's Window * Beautiful and brutal. This is unflinching fantasy * CHUCK WENDIG, author of Blackbirds * Stunning! There are moments that take my breath away * ELLEN KUSHNER, World Fantasy Award-winning author of Thomas the Rhymer * Brutal, relentless and with the heartbreaking beauty of the best tragedies. The Traitor is a haunting book that asks hard questions about revolution, change, and what it means to keep faith * ALIETTE DE BODARD, Nebula Award-winning author of The Waiting Stars * A new fantasy world as rich and complex as our own . . . Baru Cormorant is brilliant, bold, and very, very dangerous. * SEBASTIEN DE CASTELL, author of Traitor's Blade * Amazing and inventive. * TOBIAS BUCKELL, New York Times bestselling author of the Xenowealth series * An extraordinary debut--powerful, complex, and passionate. I was blown away by it. * KIJ JOHNSON, Hugo award-winning author of The Man Who Bridged the Mist * Dickinson has written a poet's Dune, a brutal tale of empire, rebellion, fealty, and high finance that moves like a rocket and burns twice as hot. [The Traitor] is a mic drop for epic fantasy. * MAX GLADSTONE, author of the Craft Sequence books * A beautiful, perfectly formed crystal of a novel borne out of a tight plot mated with elegant language. * JOHN CHU, Hugo award-winning author of The Water That Falls on You From Nowhere * Not many books have me literally flailing with delight. [The Traitor...] did. Fascinating characters, a world imagined with wonderful depth, and storytelling that succeeds on both an epic and a powerfully intimate scale. This is really something special. * SUNNY MORAINE, co-author of Life and Orbit * Seth Dickinson skillfully combines intrigue, action, and philosophical musings to create a suspenseful and deeply satisfying read. An intelligent and accomplished first novel reminiscent of Le Guin in its reflections on imperialism, colonialism, and the attractions and corruptions of power. * UNA MCCORMACK, New York Times bestselling author of The Crimson Shadow * Smart. Brutal. Gut-wrenching. You'll be captivated from the very first page. Dickinson is a sly, masterful writer who pulls no punches. Get ready to have your heart ripped out through your throat. Highly recommended. * KAMERON HURLEY, author of The Mirror Empire *