Publishers Weekly: The challenging second installment of this sweeping fantasy trilogy picks up where 2016’s The Traitor Baru Cormorant left off. Baru, intent on bringing down the Empire of Masks from within, has finally ascended to her new role as one of the Empire’s secretive, all-powerful cryptarchs, but only by betraying those who believed in her.
To cement her position and eliminate visible weaknesses, she even has her lover executed for treason, a heinous act that affects her more than she can afford to reveal. Now swept up in the affairs of state, dealing with conspiracies, enemies, and potential war at every turn, Baru risks losing her soul in the pursuit of her goal: freeing her island home from the Empire’s grip. Dickinson packs a lot into this dense, multilayered, complicated epic, letting the story unfold through multiple perspectives, flashbacks, tense shifts, and other narrative devices.
As Baru juggles increasing amounts of trauma with an unrelenting focus on the endgame, she continually proves herself as a fascinating, morally grey protagonist in a complex world where conflicts take place on the high seas, in the ballroom, and in the marketplace. It all builds to a powerful cliff-hanger, with hints of much more to come.