I read this with Melanie for her birthday buddy read!
CW: colonialism, homophobia, genital mutilation, forced castration, racism, eugenics, sexual assault, PTSD, war, and general violence (and, again, maybe more I missed)
Honestly, I think those are the most warnings I’ve put before a review and about general content of a book. It slaps you in the face right away with them. No holding back. The Traitor Baru Cormorant is a story of the horrors of colonialism.
Most of the world, I feel, deals with the aftermath of it. And we don’t, perhaps (in the western world from my own white western perspective), understand it as fully as we should. What we did was destroy ways of life that had been around for thousands of years, completely obliterate them without thought of their norms.
It was horrible and is horrible.
And I just loved how the book showed it all in such visceral ways.
Yet, this book is mainly a political book. Yes, it doesn’t shy away from topics that were so upsetting to read about, but the book is mainly about political machinations that reminded me of The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin.
Now, that’s not a bad thing, obviously. I love politics and the maneuvers that politicians make to get their way. It just didn’t help that this book is told in a, what I’m coining, macro-level fantasy. Basically, a fantasy that feels very removed from the world it’s in.
For me, that’s hard to get attached to the characters. And there were a lot of characters. I honestly can’t tell you them all or too much about their personalities. It was even hard to get Baru’s personality down because of how distant the book felt to me. Yet, it did work with her personality, but it still made it hard for me to get invested.
I don’t think this book is bad. Obviously, not. I think it was very good, but I didn’t read it at the right moment. I’m definitely going to keep reading the rest of the series, but I’m going to wait to carry on until I’m a bit less busy and can handle books that are more complex.
What’s your favorite epic fantasy?