The traitor Baru Cormorant is a political-military thriller set in a fantasy world crushed under the boot heels of the Empire of Masks. The Empire has conquered most of the world, and is busily remaking the world in it’s image. This means a range of different things. Sometimes it means vaccinations and functioning sewer systems for the masses, but it also entails eugenics, and setting up special schools to indoctrinate children from conquered lands.
Baru Cormorant is one such child who grows up in a charitable school run by the Empire. Always looking over her shoulder and driven to excel, Baru wants the power that the Empire can offer her. If she is precisely what they want her to be, then she’ll work the system to get what she wants. It does not matter what the system costs her personally, because she can’t think of any other way to be safe.
Her struggle for power and a place in the Empire is a quest in epic fantasy style. So of course, to achieve her goals Baru becomes an accountant. This is an epic fantasy novel about an accountant! And she is fearless, amazing, and terrifying. She takes on money launderers, pirates, revolutionaries and inflation. Baru has plans for her own life and future, and no person, country, or empire is going to get in her way.
If you want a fast-moving adventure story that also introduces you to economic principles, this might be the book for you. If you want an unflinching look at the human cost of empires and lots of sword fights, this might be the book for you. If you want well-realized characters from diverse backgrounds forced into making haunting choices, this might be the book for you. If you want pirates and a love story, this might be the book for you. If you want to turn the last page of a book, look up and demand, “What? What just happened? I can’t believe that just happened! Now I have to reread the whole thing!” Then definitely this is the book for you.