Hello Humans! It has, once again, been a bit of a while since I’ve written a book review (I wish I could claim Nano has been taking all my time but honestly I’ve just been in a bit of a creative slump! But I have managed to read MORE THAN ONE BOOK in November so far and I’m here now to give reviewing a go!
I read The Traitor: Baru Cormorant last year, after it had sat on my Goodreads ‘want to read’ shelf for quite some time, and really liked it, so I was extra excited to receive a copy of the sequel The Monster for review. I did as I typically do, and headed in with virtually no memory of what had happened in the previous book (beyond the fact that it was GAY.)
Potential spoilers ahead for book one, but I’ll do my best to keep spoiler free for this book.
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.
Cards on the table, it took me a long time to finish this book, and that could be for one of two reasons. It could be the aforementioned reading slump, but it could also be that this book is quite…intense? I know at least one person has compared it to Game of Thrones in it’s brutality and, while I don’t think it has quite the same scope as GOT in terms of breadth of characters and settings (yet), I do agree that it is quite relentless in it’s…negative-ness? What I’m trying to say is that this is not a book filled to the brim with sunshine and rainbows – and it’s completely up to you if that is or is not what you want to read! I personally have a preference for happy queer stories (real life is hard enough) but I love the broader setting of this book so much and the internal politics I’m willing to set aside that preference for happy endings.
So, with that in mind, onto the book! It’s not a spoiler to say this book begins with the murder/execution of one of the key characters from book one (it’s literally the first thing that happens) and if that isn’t enough to set the tone for the rest of this book I don’t know what is? The plot follows on from there and we get a lot of information about the setting and the politics. I won’t lie, it was possibly a little too much detail for me, I felt like the elements of the book that interested me, namely the characters and the economics based political subterfuge, got lost within all that information. I almost feel like you could have lost a lot of the additional information and had this as quite a snappy sequel? I’m not averse to a chunky fantasy book, but this felt like content for content’s sake in a way that I don’t always feel with long books.
There were a lot of things that I enjoyed, I think Baru as a main character is incredibly interesting, her motivations and her actions in response to them always simultaneously surprise me and feel incredibly obvious after they are done. While the queer plotline was less to my tastes than in book one it’s not brushed under the carpet as an aspect of her character which I appreciated. Mostly I just love how clever Baru is, it’s to be expected from a series where economics is one of the big drivers of plot, you need a main character who can think five steps ahead, but it’s so satisfying when things come together.
I think this is not a series to take on lightly, it takes a lot of intense concentration and has a lot of moving parts that you as a reader are expected to keep hold of. That being said, it’s a phenomenally interesting world and this is certainly the kind of book that leaves you with a strong sense of achievement when you’ve finished. I’d recommend it to people who want something they can fully get their teeth stuck into.
My rating:⅘ stars
I received a free copy of this book from the publisher. All opinions are my own.
The Monster is available now
What say you? What big fantasy books should I be reading? Let me know in the comments below!