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Thursday, November 13, 2014

The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison

The Goblin Emperor

I am late to this splendid addition to the fantasy genre, and like so many others, I loved the book.  I enjoyed the characters and the political intrigue. 

The main flaw in this lovely tale is that plot and characters are sometimes obscured by the strange multi-syllabic names and created language and by passages referring to a complex political, historical, and cultural system that even a member of the society would be hard put to understand completely.   And yet, I slipped into this world and found myself immersed in the story and unwilling to put it down. 

Maia, half-goblin and half-elf, is thrust into his new role as emperor when the airship that carried his father and half-brothers crashes.  Maia had only met his father once, at his mother's funeral, and had been relegated to an estate far away from the palace in the care of an abusive and bitter cousin.  When the news comes of his father's death, he is whisked to the court with little knowledge of court functions and without anyone he can truly trust.

Maia's father had never shown kindness to Maia or to Maia's mother, so he feels no grief at his father's death. He does know, however, that if he is to be emperor, it will not be in the style that has father has been.  While he has no experience or training in the world of politics,  Maia does have a kind and compassionate heart, and he makes an impression on those few individuals who serve him closely.

Most of the plot concerns the court intrigue and Maia's attempts to discover who was behind the sabotage of the airship that killed his father and half-brothers.  The action scenes and magic that usually accompany high fantasy are not here.  This is a story of young man who has been isolated and ill-treated trying his best to survive the intricate complexities of the court, the disparagement of those who should have supported and guided him, the exploitation of those who would use him, and the loneliness of his position.

Despite the perplexing language and  complicated political system, reading The Goblin Emperor was still a great pleasure.  If I gave stars, it would be 4 1/2 stars because what I liked I liked very much!

Library copy.  Macmillan/Tor Books

High Fantasy.  April, 2014.  447 pages.


  1. This sounds great, given your rating! I'm curious about this book so I'll have to check it out. :)

    1. I also liked that the book functioned as a stand-alone. I would certainly enjoy more about Maia and his kingdom, but there was no cliff-hanger, the story was complete.

  2. I agree with you about the characters -- it was sometimes hard to get a grip on who they were as people. But I let go of that expectation as I was reading, and I was able to just enjoy the intricacies of the court intrigue. It made for an absorbing read.

  3. I had to let go of that name & court thing as well. I really enjoyed the book!