I love Baru Cormorant. She is competent and she is ruthless, and she inspires loyalty. She uses assets to the best of her ability. She is driven. I also love her relationships with the dukes – especially Tain Hu. The loyalty kink was very button-press-y. Baru being willing to do anything to succeed at her goals was amazing.
I loved the worldbuilding. Falcrest taking over places with economics! A complex Aurdwynn with its own problems and history! Nebulous powers behind the throne and the promise of cutthroat politics!
( ending spoilers )
Now, this is not a thing I'd rec without caveats – there's homophobia, the threat of government-mandated eugenics, some sexism, and the whole imperialism shit – but if one likes competent female characters and economic worldbuilding, it's worth checking out. There'll be a sequel, The Monster Baru Cormorant, that I'll nab when it comes out.