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The Traitor Baru Cormorant, by Seth Dickinson

You know what I love? Reading books by authors who are smarter than me. And Seth Dickinson is way, way smarter than me. I loved this book, which is complex in a way very reminiscent of Herbert's masterpiece Dune, full of political and personal machinations that I could possibly have figured out on my own if I weren't plowing through the book at light speed (or perhaps if I had a degree in finance, or political science, or both).

Baru Cormorant is a happy child, beloved by her mother and fathers on the beautiful island of Taranoke. But the Masquerade, a powerful empire, is slowly gobbling up all the lands around the Ashen Sea. While the empire feels like Rome, their conquest is very un-Roman: quiet and subtle, insidious in the way that money makes things. But they also bring progress, hygiene and medicine and easily traveled roads. The benefits outweigh the cost until suddenly they don't and ta-da! You're colonized! One of their favored methods is finding particularly s…

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