My book is out! The reviews are shining! Baru Cormorant is loosed upon the world. God help us all, in particular our account-books.
Let’s check out some of the reviews, interviews, and columns that’ve covered the book.
Publisher’s Weekly says (in a very kind starred review):
Readers will share every one of Baru’s strong, suppressed emotions. Dickinson’s worldbuilding is ambitious and his language deviously subtle; both are seductive in their complexity. He combines social engineering, economic trickery, and coldhearted pseudoscientific theories to weave a compelling, utterly surprising narrative that keeps readers guessing until the end.
Over at Tor.com, Niall Alexander seems happy too! (Tor Books is my publisher, but Tor.com has enough independence to pan Tor books now and then.)
Be she traitor or patriot by the end of the book—to who might be the more pertinent question—Baru Cormorant must be the most memorable character fantasy fiction will feature in 2015. Happily, the narrative Dickinson designs around her is every inch as rich and convincing. His debut is paced like a race—excepting some slight slowdown in advance of a surprisingly action-packed last act—and never less than poetically put.
Barnes and Noble’s Lauren Naturale picked out some of my own favorite scenes:
The book’s most welcome moments are the glimpses into Baru’s everyday life—a remarkable conversation with an actress she never expects to see again, a brief yet important scene in which she observes her secretary, Muire Lo, has real affection for her. These are the vignettes that give the broader plot arcs meaning, and they are the scenes I’ll remember long after I’ve forgotten the names of every last Duke and Duchess of Aurdwynn. Amidst the calculations, which never stop, there’s warmth and unexpected humor. One definition of a round character is this: does she surprise you?
I’ll be getting this review from ‘the Little Red Reviewer’ printed on leaflets for immediate dispersal:
A hundred pages in, and I knew The Traitor Baru Cormorant would be a game-changer. I can tell you right now this is my favorite book of 2015. I don’t even have the words to explain how this story affected me and what it did to me. If you have ever taken my advice in the past to read a book, this is the time to take it again. The Traitor Baru Cormorant? Read it.
Kevin Wei at Fantasy Literature lights up the charts with 5.5 out of 5 stars:
Breathtakingly original and carefully crafted, The Traitor Baru Cormorant by debut novelist Seth Dickinson is one of those very few works that straddle the line between “genre” and “literary” fiction.
Good. Goooood. Let the reviews flow through you. Now take up your credit card and complete your journey!
I’ve also been whirling around the globe on a blog tour. If you’re curious to know more about the book, check out some of these. I have everted my thoughts for your examination, encoded in the form of language!
Way back when, Max Gladstone and I interviewed each other about our books over on Tor.com. We have great chemistry (much like the Masquerade, a hoo ha ha hoo):
MAX: What’s the adversary across the Mother of Storms?
SETH: There have been no expeditions across the ocean to the east, Max. The Mother of Storms is impassable. If you’ve heard otherwise, you’re the victim of seditious alarmism.
Of course, if we’re asking big questions…
SETH: Are the spiders between the stars going to come down out of the sky and devour the world?
MAX: Seth, Seth, Seth. Any reasonable Craftsperson would know better than to credit the eschatology of a backward faith. There’s absolutely no evidence of—static—beyond the borders of—static—and we’d certainly know by—static—if there were any risk of—
I’ve also got an advice column over there — Baru’s strong opinions on how to solve Star Wars, Alien, Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, and other famous problems.
I’m tired of farm life. I want to join the rebellion against the Galactic Empire. What can I do?
I hate tyranny as much as you. But we need to be pragmatic. Most revolutions fail.
I suggest you fix up your uncle’s finances, study hard, and apply to the Academy. Don’t waste time trying to become a star pilot—much too risky. Get a job as an interrogator.
I’m on The Qwillery, answering clever questions:
TQ: Describe The Traitor Baru Cormorant in 140 characters or less.
Seth: I serve you so that I can butcher you. Conquer me, and be conquered; make use of me, and by my will be used. I am your prize and your ruin.
On Reddit, blowing up a 150-comment Ask Me Anything session:
On Barnes and Noble SFF, talking about how to make money cut like a sword and infrastructure as thrilling as love:
But Baru wants to rule the world, so that she can use that power to liberate her home. So in all her ruthless brilliance she seizes on other ways to power. Infrastructure power, power that comes before, the power to engrave her design in the shape of the world so that less brilliant minds flow like water through the channels she cuts for them.
On Fantasy Book Critic, sharing a deep secret about the inspiration I drew from history (it’s at the very end):
Baru’s world is not our own. Everything’s come out differently — the geography, the epidemiology, the distribution of technology and power. Civilizations thrive and die around the Ashen Sea, each with its own ideologies, means of warfare, scientific practices and social behaviors.
But human nature hasn’t changed. People are greedy.
On FantasyLiterature.com, where Kevin Wei put together an awesome interview full of really insightful questions:
The Masquerade people have been able to spread their ideology by offering sweet poison. Their techniques of hygiene, irrigation, manufacture, and inoculation are a huge economic boon to the victim, and once the door is open the Masquerade can establish schools, compromise the economy, exploit internal politics, and slither their way into local hegemony. They offer a gift and hide the hook.
Natalie Zutter wrote a great essay comparing the techniques of indoctrination used in Baru’s world to the masterful Ancillary Justice, a novel by Ann Leckie:
But what most keeps us engaged in Ann Leckie’s Ancillary Justice and Seth Dickinson’s The Traitor Baru Cormorant is the fact that both series’ protagonists—Justice of Toren One Esk, a.k.a. Breq, and Baru Cormorant—have personal vendettas against their systems while they’re in the process of trying to destroy them from the inside. Yet for all their rebellion, they are both on their way to becoming ideal citizens themselves.
And lastly, my editor Marco Palmieri wrote an exasperated confessional about his attempts to get a sane-sounding blurb out of Max Gladstone (the very clever author of the Craft Sequence).
“The Traitor Baru Cormorant breaks fantasy open: a brilliantly written gauntlet thrown to ossified visions of the genre’s possibilities. If face-huggers infected George R. R. Martin, Howard Zinn, and James C. Scott, producing glistening murderous offspring which then mated somehow…this is the book the single surviving spawn of that horrid union’s brood clutch would write. Read it.”
I’ll have a bunch more interviews and guest columns coming out in days and weeks to follow (in which you can chart my steady descent into PR Madness. In the terminal stages I will start to appear in pop-up ads on my own eyeballs).
I’m also very hopeful that I’ll find the time to post a chapter-by-chapter readalong of this novel. I’d love to share a director’s commentary-style conversation with all of you.
Thank you all so much for your support!