cahn: (Default)
[personal profile] cahn
Ugh, I think work is finally letting up. That's what I said last month, and the month before, but I think it's actually true this time. Anyway.

4/5. I... have all sorts of conflicting feelings about this book.

The first third is amazing, sort of like Goblin Emperor meets Dune with a side helping of colonialism and polyamory/queerness. Baru is an accountant! Who deals with political intrigue and solves Epic Fantasy Problems through the Power of Economics! I would totally happily read an entire novel of Baru dealing with political intrigue and smacking down factions with Economic Theory!

...that's only part of what this novel is.

The second two-thirds are really well-written and well-done, and -- well -- so, remember how when I read Goblin Emperor I really liked it but thought it was awfully light on political intrigue and kind of wanted more? I TAKE IT BACK. I TAKE IT ALL BACK. ACTUALLY I DON'T WANT POLITICAL INTRIGUE THANKS I CHANGED MY MIND MAIA CAN JUST BE SWEET AND PEOPLE CAN JUST BE NICE TO HIM OKAY.

So -- you know how Goblin Emperor is all warm and fuzzy? Traitor is the kind of book where the warm fuzziness turns out to actually be mold. So, yeah, if you're in the mood for grim, I do very much recommend this book (with one caveat under the cut).

I wish I'd known that it was grim, because although I admire the surprise shock of "hey look, this world is super grim after all!" and think it was very well done -- there are hints of darkness in the beginning and so it's a logical conclusion -- the first part is mostly bright and cuddly and so I was expecting it to be a lot like Goblin Emperor. And it SO WAS NOT. And it left a bad taste in the experience of the book for me; I almost stopped reading right there. (In fact, I might have skipped the bits where it was clear something bad was going to happen, until it actually did happen.)

The other thing is -- so there's this plot element. And Dickinson plays fair, and it's tight-third POV, and all the character motivations are laid out very logically, so if you're paying attention it's pretty clear what that plot element is (and, I mean, I'm talking as someone who very rarely figures out these things). So I spent the last third of the book waiting for it to be revealed, and it's revealed pretty much at the very end (like, the last 20 pages or so). This meant I was emotionally distanced from that whole part of the book, because I was just waiting for that shoe to drop.
In any case, I still really liked this book, to the extent that Seth Dickinson has gone on my short list of authors for whom I'll be checking out everything he writes. But... but!

Date: 2015-11-02 04:37 am (UTC)
cordialcount: (Default)
From: [personal profile] cordialcount
"Bright and cuddly" is an interesting description-- I went into Baru Cormorant knowing it contained 1) a protagonist trying to undermine an fantasy empire from within by rising in station within it and 2) lesbians, and nothing else, and for me the book began its Ominous Overtones from the second sentence and never let up. Whereas The Goblin Emperor never conveyed a real sense of urgency or creepiness to me, even when people were being assassinated.

When did it hit you that it wasn't going to be a warm happy book?

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