About this time last year I started reading an extraordinary fantasy called The Traitor (titled The Traitor Baru Cormorant in the US) by a debut US author Seth Dickinson which I just fell in love with. I've always been a fan of epic fantasy with strong female characters so when I started reading about Baru Cormorant, a character whom Cersei Lannister would be hard-pushed to outwit and be more devious than, I knew we were onto something fun.
Plots within plots, lies within lies until she’s not sure what the truth even looks like . . . Baru Cormorant believes any price is worth paying to liberate her people - even her soul.
When the Empire of Masks conquers her island home, overwrites her culture, criminalizes her customs, and murders one of her fathers, Baru vows to mask her hate, join the Empire’s civil service, and claw her way high enough up the rungs of power to put a stop to the Emperor’s influence and set her people free – whatever the price.
A natural savant she is sent as an Imperial agent to distant Aurdwynn - a post she worries will never get her the position and power she craves. But Baru soon discovers Aurdwynn is a complex and secretive country seemingly on the brink of rebellion. All it would need is a match to the tinder . . .
Drawn by the intriguing duchess Tain Hu into a circle of seditious dukes, Baru may be able to use her position to help create a revolution that will threaten the Empire’s hold on the country. An outcome, which if successful, could threaten to bring the Empire to its knees.
As she pursues a precarious balance between the rebels and a shadowy cabal within the Empire, she orchestrates a do-or-die gambit with freedom as the prize.
But winning the long game of saving her people may be far more costly than Baru imagines.
Neil Lang in our design team really enjoyed the novel and came up with a brilliant cover - exactly how I'd imagined it. He tells us how he went about creating it.
Roman Battle mask - copyright Shutterstock
'I think the starting point for The Traitor was when I read the line ‘Empire of Masks’ and soon began looking at Venetian masks and Roman battle masks.
The book is full of epic feudal battles with masked characters, so this seemed to be the perfect representation of the story without showing an actual battle or any hooded figures!
I purposely kept the visual simple so as to have more impact, especially when viewed online or at small sizes. I’ve used the flames to highlight the central motif and give it an extra lighting effect. I tried various colours but felt that the golden tone in this image worked best and felt more real.
The title is great and so I didn't think it needed any over-the-top embellishment, so I went with a quite classic serif with the spike running through the middle giving it a little extra.'
Seth really liked the cover as well saying 'an iconic, visual, dignified cover style is exactly what I'd dreamt of'.
Now I hope you love it as much as we do! We'll be publishing September 2015 simultaneously with Tor US.