The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison weaves an impressively intricate tale of court politics in a steampunk-fantasy world that is completely unique. Maia is an incredibly sympathetic MC who never imagined being thrust onto the throne and really just wants to do the right thing even if that means the rest of the court laughs behind his back. The Goblin Emperor tells the story of how Maia adjusts to this incredible twist of fate and just how tricky a sudden change in power can be. It is, however, one of those books that definitely requires the glossary provided and probably could have used an extended encyclopedia along with it.
Note: I received The Goblin Emperor from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison
Published by Tor Books on April 1st, 2014
Genres: Adult, Fantasy, Steampunk
Page Length: 448 pages
How I got my copy: Publisher
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The youngest, half-goblin son of the Emperor has lived his entire life in exile, distant from the Imperial Court and the deadly intrigue that suffuses it. But when his father and three sons in line for the throne are killed in an "accident," he has no choice but to take his place as the only surviving rightful heir.
Entirely unschooled in the art of court politics, he has no friends, no advisors, and the sure knowledge that whoever assassinated his father and brothers could make an attempt on his life at any moment.
Surrounded by sycophants eager to curry favor with the naïve new emperor, and overwhelmed by the burdens of his new life, he can trust nobody. Amid the swirl of plots to depose him, offers of arranged marriages, and the specter of the unknown conspirators who lurk in the shadows, he must quickly adjust to life as the Goblin Emperor. All the while, he is alone, and trying to find even a single friend... and hoping for the possibility of romance, yet also vigilant against the unseen enemies that threaten him, lest he lose his throne – or his life.
- I love the combination of steampunk elements (airships and steam-powered bridges) and fantasy that The Goblin Emperor weaves together. The two main races in the world are goblins and elves, though they can interbreed, creating a fresh setting free of stinky humans ;-).
- Maia is such a charming MC that you can’t help but cheer for him. He is rather adorably naive at times but also quite quick and determined to do a good job. His lack of self confidence at times really just endears him to the reader even more.
- There are so many secondary characters to love in The Goblin Emperor! In particular three small children won my heart by the end, but I also loved Maia’s various support staff and certain family members. Despite the incredible number of characters I met in the Goblin Emperor, a handful left a very meaningful impression that warms my heart.
- While The Goblin Emperor is definitely not a fast book, the plot was interesting throughout and never actually dragged. There was always something that Maia was trying to figure out or deal with, and just as one issue gets wrapped up, another crops up. The timing of the plot was really quite impressive now that I look back on it!
- The Goblin Emperor is incredibly confusing at the start and doesn’t really get all that much easier as you go along. I read it in only a few days, but still struggled to remember all the different characters at court. There is a glossary, but for some reason the particular things I wanted to look up weren’t covered or weren’t detailed enough to be helpful. The amount of similar names contributed to this. If you like fantasy that has this intricate nature, go for it, but it isn’t something I seek out.
- There was some fairly troubling ableist language in The Goblin Emperor that crept up a number of times without being necessary at all.
- One of the more frustrating things for me as a reader is when tales of an amazing world are told by secondary characters, but I can’t go explore them with the main character. The Goblin Emperor takes place nearly completely at court, so I didn’t get to see all these interesting places that are hinted at. I need a spinoff series!
- The writing of The Goblin Emperor is quite thick. I consider myself to have a decent vocabulary, but there were a number of words that I didn’t know. The Goblin Emperor also has accurate historical speech with the “Royal We” and a bunch of thou’s and thee’s all over. This makes for cool immersion but really slow going if you aren’t used to reading that language (which I’m definitely not).
The Goblin Emperor is the perfect book for a particular kind of reader. If you love court intrigue and fresh fantasy worlds, this is your book. If you are looking for something fast and light, it definitely isn’t. I’m looking forward to more stories in this world that have more of an adventure slant to them, since the world of The Goblin Emperor sounds so amazing.
Have you read this one? What did you think? Are you excited for it if you haven’t gotten to it yet?
The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison
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