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3.5 

The Monster Baru Cormorant

By Seth Dickinson
The Monster Baru Cormorant by Seth Dickinson digital book - Fable

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Publisher Description

A breathtaking geopolitical epic fantasy, The Monster Baru Cormorant is the sequel to Seth Dickinson's "fascinating tale" (The Washington Post), The Traitor Baru Cormorant.

Her world was shattered by the Empire of Masks.
For the power to shatter the Masquerade,
She betrayed everyone she loved.

The traitor Baru Cormorant is now the cryptarch Agonist—a secret lord of the empire she's vowed to destroy.

Hunted by a mutinous admiral, haunted by the wound which has split her mind in two, Baru leads her dearest foes on an expedition for the secret of immortality. It's her chance to trigger a war that will consume the Masquerade.

But Baru's heart is broken, and she fears she can no longer tell justice from revenge...or her own desires from the will of the man who remade her.

At the Publisher's request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management Software (DRM) applied.

60 Reviews

3.5
“Definitely better than the first I felt like there was more action in this one. It was extremely brutal but kept me more engaged. I actually felt for the characters and ended up actually caring for them unlike in the first book.”
“Toddlers can wail and throw tantrums when they’re having Big Feelings and I’m expected to write a coherent review about them. If Goodreads allowed audio reviews that’d be all you’d hear from me (for more genius ideas DM me, devs, I have more where that came from). Spoilers for the first book, https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/6076099773 , if that wasn’t clear already. The Monster Baru Cormorant has improved on so many of my gripes with the first book (mainly regarding the political infodump I had a hard time following) with its amazing characterization, world-building, dialogue, and even detailedly described body-horror that made me attempt a censorship of my own imagination (there’s only so many times I can read the word stumps without outwardly gagging—but I’m also a wuss (by acclamation) so take that with a grain of salt). But most importantly this book is about grief, and while some here might disagree, I think it was handled exceptionally well. The world should care! The moon should cover up its face in mourning! The story very quickly takes us back to the ending of the first book—Tain Hu’s execution. I couldn’t talk about it in my review then, but damn if that didn’t break my heart. I never expected Baru to go to such lengths to reach her goals and I was begging along with Apparitor for her to cut her shit and save her (my?) beloved, but nope. Instead Act 1 seemed to rub it in even more (as if me bawling my eyes out the first time wasn’t enough). The entire book she’s mourning and hurting, and this devotion to Tain Hu keeps her going in a sort of sunk-cost fallacy type mindset. Baru needed a sword for a spine, so that if she ever bent from her purpose, she’d be cut. The Monster Baru Cormorant finally delves into what actually goes on in Baru’s mind as opposed to the hinting and outright lying she did in the first book, and her anguish for all that she’s sacrificed and has to keep sacrificing for her to reach her actual purpose: liberating Taranoke. But she has lost the trust of nearly everyone in her vicinity, is countlessly being accused of thinking things she isn’t thinking, scheming what she isn’t scheming, and you know what? It was actually kind of satisfying. I was still holding a grudge against her for killing off the one person that carried the first book for me and this felt like justified retribution. But my bitterness aside, it can’t be denied that Baru’s character is exceptionally written. Her taking up the role ‘Agonist’ together with the Throne’s lack of hostages to hold over her head suddenly gave her free rein to flaunt her homosexuality in the face of her hygiene-obsessed master Cairdine Farrier, which, fuck yeah. She was sassy and even childish at times and I really loved the little details of her quarreling with Apparitor like they’re siblings (eg., “ Baru and Apparitor fought over the spyglass until Yawa gave Baru hers ”). Her injury (hemispatial neglect) made the neuroscience student in me very happy and was used so well in the context of the book. She was still unpredictable as fuck (eg., “ By sundown she owned a restaurant and a flophouse, the Fiat Bank branch by the docks was on fire, and two pirate captains were dueling for her hand as she sold prostitutes in lots of half a hundred. ” — I remember reading this and having to pause for a second ‘cause girl I’m sorry??) Honestly, Baru might be my favorite MC of all time. ”These two fucking gat szich neath castrated shit fucks” - Apparitor Apparitor was probably my favorite (side) character. His snarky comebacks and antics made this story feel like a comedy at times, and I actually enjoyed the whole enemies-to-(kindof?)besties trope he and Baru had going on. Then there’s Aminata. I was so glad to see that her story wasn’t over with the first book, and the inclusion of her POV came with a lot of fresh insight about this fictional world—actually, the POV changes in general managed to achieve this, and it was really cool to see how other people regarded Baru Cormorant. I can’t delve into every character I loved because then this review would never end, but damn can Seth Dickinson write (there were so many with their unique traits and dialogues and mannerisms and it takes a good amount of self-control for me not to go on an essay long rant about Tau-indi, Iraji, Shao Lune, Tain Shir, Iscend—you get my point) Magic is practiced in the world, whether you believe it or not; it is used to guard over sick children and to ward off the foxes from the coop. People believe in magic. The magic may not alter anything, but their beliefs still guide their actions. The world building is delicious. The conflict between Falcrest and Oriati mbo, the Mbo’s rich culture that thoroughly explains Torrinde and Farrier’s twisted interest (eg., “ The morgue bakery ran out of ways to make ash cake, and so the mothers couldn't burn and eat their infant children properly, which left the city swarming with wailing sobbing child-souls. ”—Seth Dickinson how the hell do you come up with this stuff), the whole insane and unique concept of a cancer cult called the Cancrioth (eg., “ for does not cancer grow in living flesh, and display that flesh? Is it not more energetic and prosperous? ”), the roles of men and women across various places like the Llosydanes. Just simply amazing, all of it. Power was not the province of those who made choices. Power was the ability to set the context in which choices were made. I love the concept of trim. I love the entire hashing-function breakdown that combined mathematics and philosophy and made me reminisce about Dickinson's newly out-on-shelves' https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/6131054181 (then again, when do I not?). I love that you have no way of knowing if this story has a tint of supernatural in it or if that’s just one culture’s understanding of a concept. I’m immediately hopping on to the next book to find out. If you liked the first book, this book is all of that and more. Song on loop: Black Widow - Martin Phipps - this score made Tain Hu’s execution and the aftermath of it hurt so so good. Really do recommended listening to it if only for that part (though I found it amplified every single part of this book).”
Anxious Face with sweat
Multi-layered charactersViolence

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