"The Traitor Baru Cormorant" is the 1st novel of Seth Dickinson. I have tagged it as fantasy, although it has no fantastical elements (magic, dragons, etc) other then being set in an alternate earth or other world. It is well written, with several new words to look up, and well paced. The plot twists are anxiety-producing, which I would say is a good thing. As seems to be becoming increasingly popular, gender roles are fluid compared to what you would expect in your standard medieval setting.
The book left me feeling uncomfortable. It kind of gives you 2 world models to choose from, both of which suck. You can have your traditional medieval or Polynesian Iron Age culture, perhaps with odd breeding models. Or you can have an empire that apparently has some modernish science, medicine, accounting - and a superior military - but with brutal repression of all but the atomic family breeding model with heterosexuals; a comprehensive eugenics program; and mind control and reprogramming techniques. So, feudal primitivism, or Nazi efficiency? Hard choice.
The novel's heroine juggles this choice, and seems ultimately to choose the path that maximizes her personal power. It looks like we will learn what she does with that power in the next novel, currently being written.
I guess I should recommend this book, it seems to be fairly plugged into the current zeitgeist. It was a diverting read. But still, I can't describe it as edgy, or uplifting. Being made to feel uncomfortable by a book can be a good thing, but I guess my overall optimistic outlook on things wants there to be good answers to problems, and this book doesn't seem to offer any.
Ahhh, the exocortex delivers again! I think the empire of this book reminded me of S.M. Stirling's "The Domination", which I blogged here, in December 2004. That series involves ultra-Nazi protagonists, and after I was done with it, I kind of wished I hadn't read it - bad memes. So I think I got a little of that slimy, nasty feeling here - not even vaguely as bad as the Stirling though.
Ha ha, I wonder, as I become increasingly demented, if going back and rereading this blog will help me remember myself? I guess we'll see ...