Thursday, 24 September 2015

The Traitor

The Traitor
Rating: 5/5
Buy or Borrow: Buy 
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher! 

Tomorrow, on the beach, Baru Cormorant will look up from the sand of her home and see red sails on the horizon.

The Empire of Masks is coming, armed with coin and ink, doctrine and compass, soap and lies. They'll conquer Baru’s island, rewrite her culture, criminalize her customs, and dispose of one of her fathers. But Baru is patient. She'll swallow her hate, prove her talent, and join the Masquerade. She will learn the secrets of empire. She’ll be exactly what they need. And she'll claw her way high enough up the rungs of power to set her people free.

In a final test of her loyalty, the Masquerade will send Baru to bring order to distant Aurdwynn, a snakepit of rebels, informants, and seditious dukes. Aurdwynn kills everyone who tries to rule it. To survive, Baru will need to untangle this land’s intricate web of treachery - and conceal her attraction to the dangerously fascinating Duchess Tain Hu.

But Baru is a savant in games of power, as ruthless in her tactics as she is fixated on her goals. In the calculus of her schemes, all ledgers must be balanced, and the price of liberation paid in full.

When you open the book and start reading, the first thing you'll see are the words "This is the truth. You will know because it hurts" and truer words where never spoken. Or rather typed. This book destroyed me utterly. There's a quote from one of my favourite shows, "evil isn't born, it's made" and it's relevant in this case as you become attached to Baru, utterly support her....and then read helplessly on as she destroys you. You witness the creation of a monster, but it's a monster you've come to care for so you're left not really knowing how to feel. 

There's no magic or mythological creatures and so on, you read a fantasy that's all about humans and betrayal and treachery and power. Essentially you end up horrified by humans and what they're capable of. We first meet Baru as a young girl and watch her start on her path to becoming kind of a monster. I really liked her. I liked her intelligence, I liked her wit, I liked how strong she was, how well written and brought to life she was. You come to love her and support her, and cheer her on, but as much as she's a hero she's also a villain and you end up recoiling or, if Game of Thrones has hardened you, at the least flinching at her crimes. There is so much to her and I can't wait to see what happens to her next. 

It has to be said, this book is a complete ride. Looking back, there where clues that should have prepared me for the ending or tipped me off. As it was, I missed every single one of them and unwittingly merrily came upon the end of the book and ended up being utterly shocked and surprised. I actually dropped the book. There are so many twists and turns to the book that you don't see coming that you're on edge as you read. 

The Traitor really got under my skin and I felt some pretty strong emotions while I was reading, which all pale in comparison to the utter.....devastation that the ending of the book brought. Because it gets under your skin, it really hits you hard. In short, this book is so well done that it has one hell of an impact on the reader and anyone saying they dislike it is only doing so because they loved it so much and then ended up pretty much heartbroken over the ending. 

There is so much backstabbing in this book you could make a drinking game of it, and you probably should to help you get through the ending. Seriously I keep mentioning it because you all need to prepare yourselves! The politics of the world are intricate and you come to understand them intimately as you read, but everything to do with the politics and history is written so compellingly that you don't end up bored from reading page after page about it like in some other fantasy books, no, you end up fascinated. 

The world created is vivid, and rich. I read an ARC and as such had no map to refer to. No matter. The world was so well created and described I could picture where everything was clearly, as well as what each place was like. The characters, both main and secondary, are written so well they are given a spark life and are dramatic and lively players in the world. 

The Traitor is an utterly emotionally devastating, yet completely brilliant read. Dickinson is subtle with his cruelties and his emotional manipulation of the reader, and it serves to create an emotional punch when everything comes to it's climax and conclusion. This book is diverse, it's emotional, it's rich in it's world building and politics, giving you the information you need to understand why everything is happening in the world. Baru is a compelling hero with villain tendencies. Or is it villain with hero tendencies? I'm not entirely sure. But she was one hell of a fantastic, strong lead. All in all it's an incredible fantasy book but you need to prepare yourselves for the emotional slaughter! 

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