The Monster Baru Cormorant (The Masquerade, #2)
A breathtaking geopolitical fantasy as fraught as Game of Thrones, The Monster Baru Cormorant is the long-anticipated sequel to Seth Dickinson gut-wrenching debut, The Traitor Baru Cormorant. Baru Cormormant's world was shattered by the Empire of Masks. To exact her revenge, she has clawed her way up razor-edged rungs of betrayal, sacrifice, and compromise, becoming the very thing she seeks to destroy.Now she strides in the Masquerade's halls of power. To save the world, she must tear it asunder...and with it, all that remains of her soul.At the Publisher's request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management Software (DRM) applied.

The Monster Baru Cormorant (The Masquerade, #2) Details

TitleThe Monster Baru Cormorant (The Masquerade, #2)
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseOct 30th, 2018
PublisherTor Books
Rating
GenreFantasy, Fiction

The Monster Baru Cormorant (The Masquerade, #2) Review

  • Mary ~Ravager of Tomes~
    January 1, 1970
    I just noticed this terrifyingly beautiful cover 😭 can't wait for this!
  • Melanie
    January 1, 1970
    1.) The Traitor Baru Cormorant ★★★★★BRB, still crying forever. Blog | Instagram | Twitter | Tumblr | Youtube | Twitch
  • Katie
    January 1, 1970
    This book has certainly been one of my most hyped of 2018. Has it lived up to the hype? For me, absolutely. However, I can see some people being disappointed by it. Since this book won’t be out for a while, I don’t want to reveal too much. As such, the format of this review will be a little different than what I usually write.Plot: Monster starts right where Traitor ends, and we get another glimpse of That Scene with more insight. From there on, Baru begins to learn her new powers as a cryptarch This book has certainly been one of my most hyped of 2018. Has it lived up to the hype? For me, absolutely. However, I can see some people being disappointed by it. Since this book won’t be out for a while, I don’t want to reveal too much. As such, the format of this review will be a little different than what I usually write.Plot: Monster starts right where Traitor ends, and we get another glimpse of That Scene with more insight. From there on, Baru begins to learn her new powers as a cryptarch, as well as the weight it comes with. Eventually, she is tasked with the prevention, or initiation, of the second Armada War. We are also introduced to fellow her cryptarchs. Southeast of Aurdwynn, Lieutenant Commander Aminata isiSegu, Baru’s navy friend from Taranoke, is rather unhappy with her current position. She’s soon given a mission that leads her right back into Baru’s path. Back in Aurdwynn, Province Admiral Juris Ormsment is cleaning up messes in Treatymont and vows revenge against Baru for the massacre at Welthony. Finally, 25 years before the current storyline on Prince Hill, we meet thirteen-year-old Tau-indi, Federal Prince of the Oriata Mbo. With each faction and members within each faction pursuing different objectives, the story begins.Pacing: The pacing of Monster is slow and is the part I think most readers will be turned off by. Dickinson takes his time introducing characters, giving the reader insight into their motivations, and building the world they live in. While this allows for very thorough world building and character development, the trade-off is a very slow book. Roughly the first 130 pages are pure exposition, but the first clash of factions kicks off the plot with a bang. Afterward, there are long lulls between bits of action, filled with character studies, dialog, introspection, and worldbuilding. The most important thing to highlight here is that while I found the story slow, I never found it dull.Characters: The world of Monster is not a happy one, and the characters in the book reflect that. Each character carries a lot of baggage, and given the introspective nature of the narration, a fair amount of time is spent on it. Baru is still Baru, power-hungry as ever. After the ending of Traitor, she is more hesitant and more closed than before. She’s also notably easier to anger than I remember in Traitor. However, her thirst for knowledge remains and shows visible excitement over new information. Sadly, this book didn’t showcase her financial skills as much as I would have liked, and I hope we see more in the next book.Baru aside, my favorite character had to be Apparitor. He has a charming, rogue-ish personality (belying further suffering) that caught me from the beginning. Sadly, we get only the skeleton of his backstory. I would like to see more in the future. I found both him and his attendant Iraji very sympathetic and likable. All the characters I would wish happiness for, it would be those two.There are seven POVs overall, though we mostly get Baru’s perspective. Dickinson does a really good job keeping each voice distinct, and even though each character is angsty, they’re all angsty in different ways. Each character felt like their own distinct, fully-fleshed character. I think that while the total character count is smaller than Traitor, they’re more diverse and spread out.Writing: Dickinson’s prose is beautiful, as usual. Between lush worldbuilding description and emotional introspection, I experienced a rollercoaster of emotion while reading this book. I will say, I would recommend reading with a dictionary in hand. Dickinson has a large vocabulary and isn’t afraid to use it, but that left me often having to google words to get the full context. In some ways, Monster could be SAT vocab prep in fiction form. Dickinson plays with formatting to signify certain thoughts, and I didn’t realize the significance behind it until embarrassingly late.World Building: The worldbuilding of Monster greatly expands the world introduced in Traitor. We’re given more details of Falcrest, the Stakhieczi, and the Oriati Mbo, with a focus on the Oriati Mbo. I was really astounded by how much thought had to go into creating each one of groups. The Oriati Mbo are such are a rich and complex culture, and as long as this book is, I wish I could learn more about their history. It was also nice to see so many different cultures with non-western inspirations. For those looking for a book with a non-western setting, this one has several.I also have to commend Dickison for his exploration of gender constructs and gender roles. We see patriarchal societies, matriarchal societies, and those in-between, all very realistically portrayed. The Oriati Mbo have three genders, and we have a character who is this third gender and I was so incredibly happy to see that they used the singular they. This is the first book I’ve read that’s done this.Overall, the worldbuilding is one of the strongest points of this series, and it’s definitely worth a re-read just to catch missed details. I was too excited about getting a copy of Monster to re-read Traitor, so there were events and characters I’d forgotten. My copy sadly did not come with a map, which would have been incredibly useful. I believe that the published version will have one. I can see where people would dislike this book because of the slow pacing, but I personally enjoyed the extra time spent in the characters’ heads.A worthy sequel to Traitor4.5/5__________________________________Before:It's done. I've finished it. There's a lot to unpack here but overall it was great.4.5 starsReview to come when I can think more clearly.
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  • Jenia
    January 1, 1970
    This is a review of book #2 in the Masquerade Series, so there's spoilers for the first book. If you’re thinking of getting into the series, check out my review of book #1, The Traitor Baru Cormorant ! I received an ARC of this book from the publishing company Tor in exchange for a fair and honest review. The Monster Baru Cormorant was one of my most anticipated sequels and *happy sigh* it was fucking brilliant.The sequel picks up exactly where the first book finished, giving us anot This is a review of book #2 in the Masquerade Series, so there's spoilers for the first book. If you’re thinking of getting into the series, check out my review of book #1, The Traitor Baru Cormorant ! I received an ARC of this book from the publishing company Tor in exchange for a fair and honest review. The Monster Baru Cormorant was one of my most anticipated sequels and *happy sigh* it was fucking brilliant.The sequel picks up exactly where the first book finished, giving us another glimpse at Baru and Tain Hu's last moments together. Now Baru has ascended to a new level of power, and has been entrusted with a correspondingly even more difficult task. She is to help direct the looming conflict between the Masquerade Empire and the sprawling Oriati Mbo. To do so, she and several other agents of the Empire are sent on an expedition to learn the secrets that have kept the Oriati happy and prosperous for a thousand years. Of course, Baru has her own plans for the Empire... and must deal with the fallout from her previous manipulations.In a word, this book is bigger. We now get multiple POVs: mostly Baru yes, but also people who hate her or are unsure of her. There's another storyline woven in as flashback interludes, following the Oriati Federal Prince Tau-indi as they navigate the lead-up to the previous war between the Masquerade and the Oriati Mbo. In general, we see more of the world, as Baru and the other characters travel around (primarily the outskirts of) the Masquerade Empire, and we learn more of the world's history and cultures.This leads to the questions asked being bigger too. Traitor explores what one person might, or could, or must do to overthrow an empire, and whether that cost is worth it. Monster continues the same line of questioning with: "Okay, but say you do overthrow the empire... have you thought about what then?" Burning it all down is a fun goal, but there's no way to stuff globalisation back in the box. Presuming the goal is not merely blind rage and destruction of all civilisation (and of course with Baru, that's a big presumption)... what then?The increasing scope means the book is packed very dense. Sequels are always a little complicated; while Traitor could function as a stand-alone, Monster is very clearly setting up the dominoes for later. Much of the book consists of worldbuilding, introducing us (and Baru herself!) to territories and factions outside Taranoke and Aurdwynn. There's a lot of information to keep track of: the Masquerade colonies' culture before colonisation; the Masquerade colonies' culture after; the various political factions within the Masquerade (most importantly the navy); past, fallen civilisations such as the Tu Maia and the Jellyfish Eaters; the Oriati federations' history and numerous cultures; other world players, such as the Stakhieczi's Necessary King... It feels overwhelming sometimes.On the other hand, I would happily read a whole "non-fiction" history book about Baru's world. (And yes, among my co-bloggers I'm known for having a virulent hatred of worldbuilding for the sake of worldbuilding, so... I guess this is the greatest compliment I could offer a fantasy book.) I think this is because the peoples in Baru's world are clearly influenced by non-European cultures, e.g. the Oriati having three genders or the Segu having a matriarchy, which makes everything feel fresh and intriguing. I really enjoyed having to puzzle through what is actually truth and what's propaganda against the various cultures as well. As with the first book, Dickinson refuses to make any culture wholly good or bad, e.g. terrifying eugenics is lauded inside the Masquerade, infanticide is common outside it. The scope also makes the world feel that much more convincing and similar to ours, where a project like "dismantle colonialism" could not be completed by snapping one's fingers. And while I didn't cry at Monster like I did at Traitor, it did fill me with a horrible existential dread and despair at the state of our own world so, y'know, points to the book.Of course, Baru remains the captivating, complex centre of it all. To put it politely, she is not unaffected by the events of book one. To put it less politely... she's a fucking mess. This is maybe a bit disappointing when compared to Traitor: she's less in command, and she doesn't really have the chance to show off her abilities like she did in Aurdwynn. On the other hand, it humanises her in an important way. The book also starts probing more harshly into where Baru ends and where the Empire, which has been molding her since a young age, begins. To her distress, Baru herself isn't sure. (By the way, basically none of the characters trust Baru now, even when she's actually telling the truth, and it's kind of darkly hilarious.)The other characters are interesting too. Some old faces reappear and get their own POV, such as Aminata, Baru's sailor friend. She's bitter at her new job and wonders what the hell all these rumours about her old friend Baru are about. Tain Hu remains an overwhelmingly strong presence in the book as well, which I really appreciated. Of the new characters, the most intriguing is Tau-indi, who is our window into the culture of the Oriati. The Oriati people believe in 'trim', the art of connectedness, and that relationships with others have a material effect on the world. (The beauty of this being a fantasy book is, of course, that the reader has no idea for sure if this is a belief system or simple fact.) Tau's unrelentingly, bluntly human-oriented approach makes a fun contrast to Baru's cold logic.Finally, in regard to the writing, I'm not sure what to say that hasn't been said for book one already. It remains immaculate. Dickinson has a way of making the large feel large, of making huge declarations seem just as bone-chillingly powerful as they are meant to be. I'm also impressed by how well the fantasy words flow off the tongue, both the names (Xate Yawa, the Llosydane Islands, the Cancrioth) and little bits of the old tongues (ayamma, ayamma, a ut li-en). Thankfully, Dickinson also inserts a decent amount of little humorous and human moments into the book, which keeps it from being an exercise in utter bleakness. Shout out especially to the cryptarch Apparitor, who's Done With Everyone's Shit.Ultimately, I think Monster is a sequel that doesn't go in the direction most people would expect. It diminishes the importance of Baru, slows down the pacing, and introduces a heap of new difficulties. One particular crucial plotline/worldbuilding aspect seems to come out of the blue (well, it doesn't if you read Traitor very, very carefully). At the same time, I found this direction fascinating and exciting. I absolutely loved The Monster Baru Cormorant, and I can't wait to see where book 3 takes us.I recommend this book for: - Fans of political fantasy - Fans of complex worldbuilding - People tired of the "standard Western European fantasy setting" - People who like anti-hero main characters - Fans of fantasy books with little to no magic - Particularly fans of fantasy books where you're not sure if there's little or no magic - People looking for LGBT protagonists - People who've had enough of 2018 and are ready to start planning the World Revolution, but would like to see all the possible issues with said Revolution explored before they start sharpening the guillotine - People who loved The Traitor Baru Cormorant! What are you waiting for, let's go!
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  • Mayim de Vries
    January 1, 1970
    A very anticipated sequel to the story about a female Machiavelli armed with ledgers. Also, a lesbian.Where it begins: The Traitor Baru Cormorant
  • Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
    January 1, 1970
    I was just approved for this book on NetGalley, YAY! But I haven't read the first book yet, oops. It's been sitting on my bookshelf for about a year now. This sequel is being published at the end of October, so I guess I'd better get going on The Traitor Baru Cormorant...
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  • Thomas Stacey
    January 1, 1970
    We have a release date! 30 October 2018. I’ve been waiting nearly 3 years for this. Get preordering folks.
  • Elizabeth
    January 1, 1970
    10/31/18: IT HAS BEEN READ.So, I binge-read this as soon as it came out. (As in, yesterday.) My original rating still stands, though a more level ratinwig would probably be closer to a 4.5/5. There's just a little something that this book is missing that makes it as good as The Traitor Baru Cormorant, its predecessor. I think what Traitor had was a bit more naïveté and thrilling joy of the idea of turning the Masquerade inside out. Though Traitor tackled serious themes and ended on a very somber 10/31/18: IT HAS BEEN READ.So, I binge-read this as soon as it came out. (As in, yesterday.) My original rating still stands, though a more level ratinwig would probably be closer to a 4.5/5. There's just a little something that this book is missing that makes it as good as The Traitor Baru Cormorant, its predecessor. I think what Traitor had was a bit more naïveté and thrilling joy of the idea of turning the Masquerade inside out. Though Traitor tackled serious themes and ended on a very somber note, there was a lot of joy to be found in the racing through the years (as Baru raced through the ranks and her plans). Which is not to say Monster isn't enjoyable or doesn't have its small, quiet and happy moments. It's just missing that little spark. But I do think in a way, that makes sense. Baru is really struggling in this book. She's deeply depressed and guilt-ridden, and her attempts to force it all down just makes her feel worse. Baru really is a monster in the eyes of herself and everyone around her. And that's what makes this book feel heavy, the knowledge that Baru's bright-eyed enthusiasm for rebellion is gone. The more time passes, the more sluggish Baru seems, almost forcing herself to continue with her plans if only because there is no reason not to. It's in stark contrast with the first book, where Baru was forcefully sincere in her desire to destroy the Masquerade. That being said, this book is still outstanding. It does suffer a bit from the so-called "middle book syndrome". But that isn't necessarily a bad thing. Middle books are the vehicle to propel us from a journey's start to finish. If Traitor was exciting because it was the start of a new adventure, Monster is (the start of) a long, desperate struggle to get to the resolution. + The Characters: As with the first book, the story juggles a plethora of characters (of good, bad, and to be determined intentions). This is still very much Baru's book, Baru's story, but Dickinson decided in Monster to have the readers spend some time in other characters' shoes (both in the past and present), and I think it was a very good writing decision. It ups the political intrigue and makes conversations/pacts between characters all the more mysterious. Absolutely no one is to be trusted -- though, of course, Baru is the most hatred and least trusted of them all right now. The different POVs also serve to help flesh out previously-side-characters and make the world-building flourish. (view spoiler)[And Tain Hu may be gone, but her presence is deeply felt throughout, like a phantom limb. (hide spoiler)]+ Baru: I love her so much. She's truly a mess. And she remains my favorite character in the series.+ Writing: Dickinson is an impeccable writer. What can I say? One of my favorite books of all time is Wicked, and so in my eyes the highest compliment I can say is that Dickinson writes as good (if not better) than Maguire's standout work. The different POVs are all unique and Baru's more fluid, stream-of-conscious type thoughts and dreams are quite striking.+ Themes: Like before, Dickinson tackles a lot of serious themes in Monster, primarily sexuality, gender, sexism, racism, and colonialism. One thing that I particularly enjoyed was how often (view spoiler)[Baru discussed her sexuality with others and within herself. There's a sense that Baru still carries a bit of shame about being a lesbian, but in giving up Tain Hu, Baru now allows herself to be much more open about her sexuality and her thoughts on how it is perceived. I enjoyed Baru's conversations with other queer characters about queer sexuality/relationships. These discussions let Baru become more confident in the fact that she is a lesbian and that her sexuality is valid and unchanging. It's in interesting contrast to how Baru struggles to control her sexual urges as much as possible, still fearful of it being used against her. There's a duality here that rings true in today's world; the knowledge that your queerness can always be used against you, can be used to hurt you, and that you can never fully let your guard down because of it. All of the queer characters in Monster have that creeping fear, though each character deals with it in their own way. (hide spoiler)]+ Twists: My god. These are going to keep me wondering and turning over and over again in my head until the third book. The plot goes in some rather unexpected directions and there were some huge revelations in the last 1/3 of the book. There's really no major missteps here in Dickinson's second Masquerade novel. At times I did find the pacing to be a little slow, but not so much that it truly impacted my enjoyment. And that being said, I honestly can't think of anything I would have cut from the novel. I don't think slowness is truly a bad thing; the world-building is so rich, the political lines all so tangled, that they simply just beg to be expounded upon.At times though I was wishing that there could be a glossary to refresh us on all the characters, especially with the influx of new characters/cultures. Maybe in book 3?All in all, I went into this book with stupidly high expectations and was very pleased to come away feeling satisfied. I wish that I could sit down and read the next installment right now ...--02/20/18: Yes!! We finally have a cover! ❤️❤️--I don't normally rate books before they come out, but, really ... the first book was phenomenal. One of my top 10 favorite books. 100% expect this book to be just as good.Too bad we have to wait until 2018 ...
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  • Abi (The Knights Who Say Book)
    January 1, 1970
    The Traitor Baru Cormorant murdered me so uh. i guess i'll just let Seth Dickinson do it again with this one
  • wanderer
    January 1, 1970
    Thanks to Tor and Netgalley for providing the ARC in exchange for an honest review. Quotes provided may change in the final vesion.For me, this has been one of the most anticipated releases of 2018. I couldn’t wait to return to the world and see where the story takes Baru next, I pre-ordered in case I wouldn’t get the ARC, and when I did, I was almost wary of reading it, anticipating the emotional punch. The enthusiasm from bloggers who got it earlier was contagious. Sadly, while it was good, it Thanks to Tor and Netgalley for providing the ARC in exchange for an honest review. Quotes provided may change in the final vesion.For me, this has been one of the most anticipated releases of 2018. I couldn’t wait to return to the world and see where the story takes Baru next, I pre-ordered in case I wouldn’t get the ARC, and when I did, I was almost wary of reading it, anticipating the emotional punch. The enthusiasm from bloggers who got it earlier was contagious. Sadly, while it was good, it didn’t quite live up to its hype. Who says you have a duty to a nation? Who says you cannot reject an unjust duty? Who says you can decide which evil is small enough to tolerate, and which is too great to allow? Who says you should allow anyone to hold such power over you, the power to use your work for purposes you do not understand? The prose and the characters are, as in the first book, fantastic. I highlighted a lot. Baru is still as ambitious as ever, but deeply messed up from the Empire’s training and the events of the previous book, not trusted by anyone, conflicted and unsure what the right thing is. She has a lot of feelings and no idea what to do with them. There are sections from the POV of different characters that highlight just how much of an unreliable narrator she is, and each of them is as complex in their motives as she. My favourite would probably be Tau-Indi, an Oriati laman (non-binary person) who is Baru’s polar opposite - they are a strong believer in human connection and truth rather than scheming and lies, and immensely likable because of it. Baru thought it very important that she care anyway: for if she lost that, the ability to care for a stranger, what human credential did she have left? Some worldbuilding developments are rather unexpected, but not necessarily in a bad way. I also did not reread the first book, so while I did remember broad strokes well enough, any subtle foreshadowing was likely missed. There is a stronger horror undercurrent (though I can’t specify in what way without spoiling) and the world is expanded by a lot, introducing us to many other cultures. They are all flawed, all interesting, all fresh, and all feel very authentic. I hope the hardcover will include a map. Again, I liked the Oriati the most because of the contrast they provide to Falcrest (eugenics give me the creeps…), but fellow fans of cultural worldbuilding with a side of social commentary will find plenty to enjoy. The magic remains ambigous to nonexistent. Any strange things that happen can be explained in a non-supernatural way and only time will tell which way it leans. If.There was, however, one problem that made the book a bit of a disappointment: it has a pretty bad case of middle book syndrome. When I picked it up, I ended up reading a few chapters, but as soon as I put it down I had little desire to pick it up again. It took me over two weeks to get through it where I would be perfectly capable of reading it in a day or two. There’s a lot of travelling around, visiting new places, trying to solve a mystery, political scheming, lots of Baru angst…but no coherence. It gets a bit stale. There’s no strong sense of the plot going anywhere for most of the book and the pacing isn’t particularly good. It’s all set-up, and compared to the first book, it pales. And I’m normally pretty good with slow books.Will continue the series? Yes. There’s still plenty of potential, the writing is solid. Still, I can’t help but be let down a bit.Enjoyment: 3/5Execution: 3.5/5Recommended to: political fantasy fans, those looking for original settings and representation, worldbuilding enthusiasts, those looking for books with little to no magicNot recommended to: those who hate unreliable narrator, fans of fast-paced books More reviews on my blog, To Other Worlds.
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  • Kavya
    January 1, 1970
    Absolutely riveting. The sequel to the fabulous Traitor Baru Cormorant is different in many ways. Baru has achieved the power she desired, and must now figure out how to achieve her goals of overthrowing the Empire of Masks. However, she has stacked against her the other Cryptarchs with their own agenda, the possibility that she's actually brainwashed by her mentor, people seeking vengeance for what she did in Aurdwynn, and her own guilt, trauma, and physical disabilities. All this without the p Absolutely riveting. The sequel to the fabulous Traitor Baru Cormorant is different in many ways. Baru has achieved the power she desired, and must now figure out how to achieve her goals of overthrowing the Empire of Masks. However, she has stacked against her the other Cryptarchs with their own agenda, the possibility that she's actually brainwashed by her mentor, people seeking vengeance for what she did in Aurdwynn, and her own guilt, trauma, and physical disabilities. All this without the philosophical questions of whether it's right to want to turn back change from an empire and globalization, when culture is in fact a fluid thing. We meet and experience the pov of many other characters (friends and foes), which I absolutely loved - it's hard not to sympathize with some, even if they are set against Baru on the board. We learn about the Oriati kingdom and culture, which is ABSOLUTELY fascinating, Read this book for that alone. There is plenty of action and explosion, and quite a bit of scheming, although slightly disappointed that there was less economical wrangling by Baru in this one. It's pace I felt was slightly better than the first book, because we're constantly on the move through the book world. The ending basically has me begging for the next book asap. Can't wait to see more of these power hungry crazy people and their attempts to control their world.
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  • Patrick Lights
    January 1, 1970
    MY MOST ANTICIPATED BOOK OF THE YEAR is released in the last quarter, of course -.- BUT IT’S ALSO RELEASED FIFTEEN DAYS AFTER MY BIRTHDAY SO YAY.Guys seriously, I’ve read The Traitor Baru two years ago and I still can’t get over it. READ IT *____*
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  • Breda
    January 1, 1970
    *pets Baru**Baru hisses and runs away*Both thrilling and sad, with an ending as horrifying - albeit in an entirely different, significantly grosser way - as TRAITOR. Cannot wait for the third!
  • Flavia
    January 1, 1970
    You didn't get much mail. I suppose because you've murdered or estranged everyone who's no longer useful to you. Ha ha. That's like a joke, in that we'll both have to pretend we think it's a joke so we can work together civilly. That's my favorite kind of joke. - ApparitorThe Monster Baru Cormorant picks up exactly where Traitor left off and, man, the stakes are set against our favourite savant accountant. But that's just what happens when you've betrayed an entire country, Baru has paid a price You didn't get much mail. I suppose because you've murdered or estranged everyone who's no longer useful to you. Ha ha. That's like a joke, in that we'll both have to pretend we think it's a joke so we can work together civilly. That's my favorite kind of joke. - ApparitorThe Monster Baru Cormorant picks up exactly where Traitor left off and, man, the stakes are set against our favourite savant accountant. But that's just what happens when you've betrayed an entire country, Baru has paid a price and it's heavy and it weighs heavily on her and she....well, she is ready to make the best of it. Monster is deliciously evil, with wonderful, saucy dialogue dripping with intrigue and danger. In fact, danger escalates in such rapid, breakneck speed that even the eponymous Baru never feels safe and there might no one our Machiavellian heroine can trust. The Traitor Baru Cormorant was probably – easily – my favourite read of 2015 and, while Monster isn’t as flawlessly crafted (there are, arguably, an unnecessary large quantity of POVs) it feels like a worthy successor – the intrigue is high, the monsters are fascinating (and quite frankly grotesque) and there are hidden motives for the hidden motives! The dialogue had me giggling, because Dickinson is a master of the craft: I’m going to tie you to the table” Baru snapped, “here, quick – trust me--” “Of course, of course, every time a woman’s tied me to a table, it’s been grand.” “Don’t flirt with me! I’m trying to save you!” “I’m trying to encourage you!”Do you keep eyelets in your sunroom!” I don’t have a fucking sunroom, I live in an armory!” “There’s your problem,” Tau said, philosophically, “too many swords, not enough sun.” It’s excellent stuff, pick it up and you won’t regret it. Thanks go to Seth Dickinson for awesome work and to NetGalley for hooking me up!
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  • mo
    January 1, 1970
    The Traitor Baru Cormorant (#1): 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟The notification that I was approved for this ARC was the perfect thing to receive on a Monday. I am SO STOKED for this, y'all.
  • J.A. Ironside
    January 1, 1970
    I HAVE AN ARC!!!!
  • Hannah
    January 1, 1970
    The first and only book to make me teary via paragraph justification.(I'll have more things to say about this one at some point, but I need sleep and I don't want to write anything too spoiler-y.)
  • Liv
    January 1, 1970
    This is one of those books. One that will not let you rest. It will challenge you, it will seduce you, it will ensnare you, it will break you... and you're going to love every second of agony it brings you.The only fault I can find with this book is that the next book I pick up will feel totally inadequate in comparison.Oh, and I might actually go mad waiting for the continuation of Baru's story. So please, Mr Dickinson, write with all haste.
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  • Stefanie
    January 1, 1970
    This book is a 3.5 for me, and I'm going to give it the most enthusiastic endorsement for a book I've rated 3.5, maybe ever. Why? Because while I had a few issues with how The Monster Baru Cormorant came together on a technical basis, Seth Dickinson is still writing a story unlike any other out there, and in Monster it's clear he's leveling up. He's deepened the character work began in The Traitor Baru Cormorant, raised the stakes and broadened the scope of the plot, and I have a strong feeling This book is a 3.5 for me, and I'm going to give it the most enthusiastic endorsement for a book I've rated 3.5, maybe ever. Why? Because while I had a few issues with how The Monster Baru Cormorant came together on a technical basis, Seth Dickinson is still writing a story unlike any other out there, and in Monster it's clear he's leveling up. He's deepened the character work began in The Traitor Baru Cormorant, raised the stakes and broadened the scope of the plot, and I have a strong feeling that whenever this series is completed, the overall achievement is going to add up to more than the sum of any one book. So, the issues: the first thing to know is that in terms of tone, Monster is quite a bit different than Traitor. In Traitor, Baru herself was tightly controlled, in actions and emotions. Those around her seemed similarly withholding, and as we were inside Baru's perspective nearly the whole time, there was a lot of guesswork and subtlety in determining other characters' feelings and motivations. In Monster, it's as if due to the climactic events of the previous book, everything is exploded: the book opens with a TON of emotion, and a large portion of Monster rests on Baru's directly grappling with the (perhaps unexpected by her) emotional toll of her choices. Not just that, but other characters, like Apparitor and Xate Yawa for example, also seem to express emotions and motivations more directly. There's nothing wrong with this approach, but it did jar me a bit as I adjusted to it during the first third of the book. The second thing is the scope of this tale has changed: no longer are we only following Baru in her plots and machinations, in Monster there are several new POVs added to the mix. It's a lot! Ultimately, I settled in and enjoyed most of them - in particular, one that goes back in time and develops a trio of new characters in Oriati Mbo. (Prediction: people are gonna love Tau-indi.) However, I do admit it was a bit confusing at the start (and um, the middle), and there's one POV, strangely told in first person, that still seems pretty gratuitous to me. I guess what I have to say about this aspect is: your brain had better be sharp when you pick this book up, and not distracted. It took me a lot longer to get through this book than the first one, and longer than I expected. More so than the first one, IMO, you really have to be in the right mood and mindspace for this complex tale. What hasn't changed, and is still a true delight, is Dickinson's careful exploration of relative morality, and dry sense of humor, both very much evident throughout. And thank goodness, because there are some parts of Monster that are arguably darker than in Traitor. There's certainly more gore and horror elements too. Overall, if you liked The Traitor Baru Cormorant, this is a good - though sometimes frustrating - follow-up and expansion of that tale. Despite some "sophomore album" struggles in this second book, I'm in for the long-haul on this series. Many thanks to Tor and Netgalley for providing my very first ARC through the service. While I acknowledge my genuine enthusiasm and gratitude for this opportunity, this does not affect my review.
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  • Lexi
    January 1, 1970
    "I MADE IT she wanted to scream, red-lipped, broken-toothed, marrow spattering off her tongue, as certain and lethal in her arrival as a shark breaching with the broken body of a seal in its mouth. I made it. No living thing may call itself my ruler."I only read Traitor this past summer, but after that particular ending, it felt like Monster couldn't come too soon. And though this sequel feels different than the first book in so many ways, it was still a wild, emotional, intrigue-packed ride, an "I MADE IT she wanted to scream, red-lipped, broken-toothed, marrow spattering off her tongue, as certain and lethal in her arrival as a shark breaching with the broken body of a seal in its mouth. I made it. No living thing may call itself my ruler."I only read Traitor this past summer, but after that particular ending, it felt like Monster couldn't come too soon. And though this sequel feels different than the first book in so many ways, it was still a wild, emotional, intrigue-packed ride, and I love this brilliant haunted lesbian accountant-turned-cryptarch as much as ever. The reviews already out note that the pacing of Monster is slow, which is absolutely true, but I still raced through this book in about two and a half days. Dickinson spends plenty of time fleshing out a large cast of characters, including previously minor characters like Aminata and new faces like Oriati prince Tau-indi, as well as diving deeper into the complex worldbuilding and geopolitics. We learn a lot about the Oriati Mbo nation, different factions within the Masquerade, and, because Baru and crew spend much of the book sailing around, separate island states under Masquerade control. There are newly introduced details of a variety of cultures, some matriarchal and some patriarchal, and through it all is woven the theme of colonization, the subjugation of corrupt empire. Through what means do empires conquer, and at what cost to all parties? Is part of this process simply the natural advancement of human society, or should we revert to how it has always been, and who has the right to dictate such things? The reason why Baru Cormorant is one of my favorite main characters of all time is that for all her scheming, her selfishness, her decisions to sacrifice others, she is so utterly human. She doubts herself, she's quick to anger, she can be irrational, and, as Monster reveals, she's starting to realize that maybe she doesn't want to be completely alone after all. Like all the other characters in this series, Baru is carrying so much weight from her past, and it's beginning to show. For all the brutality of this world, there are still plenty of moments of levity. Apparitor gets a much bigger role in this book than the last, and besides being a fascinating character, his bantering and bickering with Baru is a joy to read. There's also a short scene of Baru as a precocious child on Taranoke, which was one of my favorite passages in the entire book: "The laman squinted, stroking their chin. ‘Why would you sell such a marvel?’‘I already have a full set,’ Baru boasted, pounding her tiny chest. ‘I’m immortal. All I ask is a fee of twenty reef pearls, and a signed contract releasing me from all indemnity and malfeasance!’The only thing I wanted from Monster was more of Baru flexing her skill with games and numbers, but that's probably more of a personal attachment than anything. She is a character who is clearly maturing, even as she slips further into despair; this book is an entirely new game, requiring new skill sets. I can't wait to see where her journey leads next.*I received an ARC from Tor through Netgalley.
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  • Flavia
    January 1, 1970
    You didn't get much mail. I suppose because you've murdered or estranged everyone who's no longer useful to you. Ha ha. That's like a joke, in that we'll both have to pretend we think it's a joke so we can work together civilly. That's my favorite kind of joke. - ApparitorThe Monster Baru Cormorant picks up exactly where Traitor left off and, man, the stakes are set against our favourite savant accountant. But that's just what happens when you've betrayed an entire country, Baru has paid a price You didn't get much mail. I suppose because you've murdered or estranged everyone who's no longer useful to you. Ha ha. That's like a joke, in that we'll both have to pretend we think it's a joke so we can work together civilly. That's my favorite kind of joke. - ApparitorThe Monster Baru Cormorant picks up exactly where Traitor left off and, man, the stakes are set against our favourite savant accountant. But that's just what happens when you've betrayed an entire country, Baru has paid a price and it's heavy and it weighs heavily on her and she....well, she is ready to make the best of it. Monster is deliciously evil, with wonderful, saucy dialogue dripping with intrigue and danger. In fact, danger escalates in such rapid, breakneck speed that even the eponymous Baru never feels safe and there might no one our Machiavellian heroine can trust. The Traitor Baru Cormorant was probably – easily – my favourite read of 2015 and, while Monster isn’t as flawlessly crafted (there are, arguably, an unnecessary large quantity of POVs) it feels like a worthy successor – the intrigue is high, the monsters are fascinating (and quite frankly grotesque) and there are hidden motives for the hidden motives! The dialogue had me giggling, because Dickinson is a master of the craft: I’m going to tie you to the table” Baru snapped, “here, quick – trust me--” “Of course, of course, every time a woman’s tied me to a table, it’s been grand.” “Don’t flirt with me! I’m trying to save you!” “I’m trying to encourage you!”And also: Do you keep eyelets in your sunroom!” I don’t have a fucking sunroom, I live in an armory!” “There’s your problem,” Tau said, philosophically, “too many swords, not enough sun.” It’s excellent stuff, pick it up and you won’t regret it. Thanks go to Seth Dickinson for awesome work and to NetGalley for hooking me up!
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  • Bentgaidin
    January 1, 1970
    'The Monster Baru Cormorant" was a really enjoyable book about plots, scheming, and the control and fall of civilizations. It's also a more convoluted book than 'Traitor' was, in that Baru has to deal with the weight of her past sacrifices, while fleeing from (and with) schemers who are her match; there's also another plot centered in a completely different civilization twenty years ago, to introduce and complicate the second half of the overarching mystery. I'm not sure it's quite as enjoyable 'The Monster Baru Cormorant" was a really enjoyable book about plots, scheming, and the control and fall of civilizations. It's also a more convoluted book than 'Traitor' was, in that Baru has to deal with the weight of her past sacrifices, while fleeing from (and with) schemers who are her match; there's also another plot centered in a completely different civilization twenty years ago, to introduce and complicate the second half of the overarching mystery. I'm not sure it's quite as enjoyable as the first book, since there are only a few times where Baru really gets to shine, and much of the rest is plots tangled in plots, and running away. That said, it really does get to dig into her character and whether or not she is the monster she believes herself to be, contrasted with the monsters that the other cryptarchs might be, and the clash of secret masters that it sets up for the next book promises to be very satisfying. This is very much an 'Empire Strikes Back' sort of book, where all the failures and complications and revelations make for great character moments and wrap up into a cohesive climax; now it's just up to the next volume to stick the landing.
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  • Gally [DEVOURER OF WRITTEN WORLDS]
    January 1, 1970
    Me going to get book one: ᕕ( ᐛ )ᕗMe at the beginning of book one: ୧( • ᴗ • )૭Me in the middle of book one: ლ(ಠ益ಠლMe at the end of book one: ╥﹏╥Me eagerly awaiting book two: ಠ_ಠReview coming soon.Recap of book 1.Omg, I’m only 25 pages in and blown away by how good the writing is!“I will write your name in the ruin of them. I will paint you across history in the color of their blood.”“No living thing ever defeated Tain Hu in battle. Only the tide could fight her. Only the moon and the sea together Me going to get book one: ᕕ( ᐛ )ᕗMe at the beginning of book one: ୧( •̀ ᴗ •́ )૭Me in the middle of book one: ლ(ಠ益ಠლMe at the end of book one: ╥﹏╥Me eagerly awaiting book two: ಠ_ಠReview coming soon.Recap of book 1.Omg, I’m only 25 pages in and blown away by how good the writing is!“I will write your name in the ruin of them. I will paint you across history in the color of their blood.”“No living thing ever defeated Tain Hu in battle. Only the tide could fight her. Only the moon and the sea together could bring her down.”“It was so anathema and yet so necessary: it felt like a razor unraveling her, one cut all the way from her anus to the back of her neck, degloving her whole body and turning her inside out so her secrets were on the outside to become her lies.”And let’s not forget this little gem:“I am Abdumasi of the House of Abd, master of ships, champion cat gambler, and I challenge you to mortal up-fuckery!”?/5 stars ~?/1 ★ for plot?/1 ★ for characters and character development?/1 ★ for writing style?/1 ★ for pace?/1 ★ for world-building
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  • Melanie
    January 1, 1970
    This is a very capable sequel to Traitor, in my humble onion. Baru is much more of a disaster in this one, understandably half-mad from grief and tormented by doubt. I continue to love how brilliantly Dickinson writes imperialism. I’m a little surprised he’s not a tax lawyer with how detailed his writing is about taxation and economics. I equally love how refreshingly brisk he is about introducing non-binary and transgender characters, never lecturing or patronizing his readers. He’s also just d This is a very capable sequel to Traitor, in my humble onion. Baru is much more of a disaster in this one, understandably half-mad from grief and tormented by doubt. I continue to love how brilliantly Dickinson writes imperialism. I’m a little surprised he’s not a tax lawyer with how detailed his writing is about taxation and economics. I equally love how refreshingly brisk he is about introducing non-binary and transgender characters, never lecturing or patronizing his readers. He’s also just damn good at writing women of all stripes. There are women rulers and women naval officers and women pirates and women merchants. His Ashen Sea feels full and rich with character. I do have a minor quibble about the introduction of magic- I liked that this was high fantasy grounded thoroughly in realism. But he introduces it in a way that one is never quite sure if it’s real or just another religion, so I can forgive it.
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  • Josh S
    January 1, 1970
    Full Disclosure: This book was read as an e-ARC (Advance Reader Copy) obtained via Netgalley from the publisher, Tor/Forge Books, in advance of the novella's release on October 16, 2018 in exchange for a potential review. I give my word that this did not affect my review in any way (if I'd not liked the book, I just would not have reviewed it). There may not have been a book I was looking more forward to this year than The Monster Baru Cormorant. This book is the sequel to The Traitor Baru Comor Full Disclosure: This book was read as an e-ARC (Advance Reader Copy) obtained via Netgalley from the publisher, Tor/Forge Books, in advance of the novella's release on October 16, 2018 in exchange for a potential review. I give my word that this did not affect my review in any way (if I'd not liked the book, I just would not have reviewed it). There may not have been a book I was looking more forward to this year than The Monster Baru Cormorant. This book is the sequel to The Traitor Baru Comorant, an incredibly dark/brutal book about a brilliant woman who decides to rise up the ranks in an evil repressive empire in order to destroy it from within....no matter the sacrifices she is forced to make in the Empire's service in order to rise up the ranks. Traitor is one of the few books that I've ever given a perfect 10 out of 10 score to, and it left off on an incredible cliffhanger.Monster is nowhere near as streamlined as Traitor, featuring some more elements of modern Epic Fantasy - multiple point of view characters, fantastical elements, etc - that didn't always work for me (the fantastical elements in particular). But the overall core of this book remains absolutely incredible and the result is a strong follow up that continues asking interesting questions as it follows its protagonist along her dark path.The Full Version of this review can be found on my blog here: http://garik16.blogspot.com/2018/10/s...
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  • Sarah
    January 1, 1970
    Definitely going to need another pass on this one. A lot of new concepts, and honestly this one suffers more than the last from random scrabble-bag fantasy names. I love Tau, want more of Tau, but struggled to stick with this book. I'll re-read the first one and this one when it comes out in paperback, see if I can gain some additional clarity. Hardly turning me off the series though; just a definite 2nd book.
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  • Martina Dominique
    January 1, 1970
    THERE’S ANOTHER BOOK??? I legitimately thought the first was a stand-alone with a fucked up devastating yet beautiful ending, and had reconciled myself with that being it. HOLY SHIT. I don’t even know what to make of this. That wasn’t the end??! That wasn’t the end!! Also WHAT A GREAT TITLE.
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  • Megan
    January 1, 1970
    Absolutely stunning. The second installment of this political fantasy epic starts a bit slow, but by the end it had a cheesewire around my bloody heart and a cabinet of horrific wonders in front of my eyes. Full coverage coming later.
  • Ale
    January 1, 1970
    RTC but if you haven't pre-ordered this book already, then what on earth are you waiting for?!
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