The Goblin Emperor

Monday, August 8, 2016


The Goblin Emperor
Katherine Addison, 2014

Premise: There’s been a terrible accident. Maia has never lived at court and hasn’t seen his father since the death of his mother a decade ago. And now they expect him to be emperor.

The Goblin Emperor was a runner-up for the Hugo and on more than a few best-of-the-year lists. So it went onto my TBR pile, and there it sat, even months after I picked up a copy on sale last December.

I finally read it, and it was marvelous - just a joy to read start to end.

I think this is going to be a book I return to, to savor the little details and enjoy subtleties that escaped me on the first read.

I adore Maia; he’s an honestly good person muddling through a difficult situation. I love the cast surrounding him, each feels like a real person with a complicated history and motivation.

The book deals in highly complicated naming conventions, which would normally drive me up the walls. However, in this case I feel that they fit tonally with the overwhelming situation Maia is up against.

I loved that while there is some mystery and some danger, this is fundamentally a book about politics and society. It’s the magic and the elves and goblins that make it a fantasy world, not the plot. There’s no epic fate or dragon to defeat; riding herd over the fractious nobles of the Elflands is enough trouble.

It’s an old-fashioned society quietly moving toward transformation. [Minor characters include lady scholars, progressive inventors, and LGBT folks.] While nothing is changing quickly, it’s a book full of hope.

If a half-goblin can rule the elven empire, after all, what else could happen?

5 Stars - An Awesome Book

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