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The Goblin Emperor Hardcover – April 1, 2014

309 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

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Maia, the estranged son of the Emperor of the Elflands, is shocked to learn that his father and three of his siblings have perished in the crash of their airship. Whisked away to court to assume the duties of emperor, young Maia is at first overwhelmed, but he’s a smart fellow and soon learns to distinguish between those who are eager to assist him and those who have their own agendas. When he discovers that his father and half-brothers were apparently murdered, Maia determines to find out who’s responsible, recognizing that the culprit may be someone very close to him. The author combines steampunk and fantasy (this is a world of elves and goblins and the like) to tell an utterly captivating story. Addison has built a completely believable world, with its own language, customs, and history, but there are tantalizingly familiar elements (such as newspapers and pocket watches) that make us wonder from whence this world came and whether it might have sprung from our own, in a distant future. There are lots of unanswered questions here that will likely be addressed in a sequel. --David Pitt


Challenging, invigorating, and unique. If courtly intrigue is your wine of choice, The Goblin Emperor is the headiest vintage I've come across in years. (Scott Lynch, bestselling author of The Lies of Locke Lamora)

I enjoyed The Goblin Emperor a great deal. I was sucked right into her world of goblins, elves, and airships, and was anxious to the very end to find out how Maia, the unwanted halfblood son of the Emperor, who finds himself unexpectedly on the throne, learns to navigagte the intrigues and danger of the imperial court. An engrossing read! (Kristen Britain, New York Times bestselling author of Blackveil)

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Books; 1st edition (April 1, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 076532699X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0765326997
  • Product Dimensions: 7.4 x 1.5 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (309 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #543,135 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

78 of 83 people found the following review helpful By Liviania VINE VOICE on April 1, 2014
Format: Hardcover
THE GOBLIN EMPEROR grabbed me tight and didn't let me go until it finished. Not an easy feat for a book with approximately one half of an action scene in over four hundred pages. That doesn't mean the scope of the book is small - the health of an entire empire is on the line, as civil war and external war both loom on the horizon.

Maia was the youngest and least favored son of the emperor. He's half goblin and not exactly attractive by court standards, to top it off. When his father and brothers die in an accident shortly before his eighteenth birthday, he his unexpectedly crowned emperor. Given his youth and isolated childhood, he's ill prepared to take the throne. That doesn't mean, however, that Maia is prepared to roll over and be a puppet. He's critical of his father's rule and determined to do better, but he'll need to find allies he can trust if he's going to figure out how to make "better" happen.

Katherine Addison is a new penname of Sarah Monette. I've read her novels as Monette, but I didn't know she had something like THE GOBLIN EMPEROR in her. It has the elegant descriptions I expected, but it works in a way The Doctrine of Labyrinths didn't work for me. Part of that is Maia himself. He's a terrific central character, thoughtful, clever, but perhaps a bit too trusting and with a potential for cruelty. And cruelty is a bad trait to be seeded in an emperor.

I quite liked the other characters too. Maia has bodyguards that must constantly be with him, as well as a secretary who is far below him in class and rank but far above him in interpreting the people of the court. He also has a fiancee, because he must guarantee the succession.
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55 of 58 people found the following review helpful By megazver on April 2, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I finished it a few hours ago and I am still giddy with pleasure. Go buy this immediately.

The book is about the unwanted, exiled half-goblin fourth son of an elven emperor who, after his father and first three sons die in a not-Hindenburg airship crash, becomes the emperor and has to deal with court politics, angry relatives, attempts on his life and exhausting fashion. This probably already sounds fun to you, but what's so special about this book, what elevates it above most of the other books I've recently read is how fundamentally positive and full of hope it is. Maia, the protagonist, is at his core a thoughtful, decent human (well, half-elf/half-goblin) being and although he went through a lot of indignity and suffering before the book starts, he responds to every problem with a sense of compassion that I found deeply satisfying and none of it was in the least preachy or cloying.

I am so sick of the grimdark trend and this book was like stumbling upon a water truck in the middle of a desert. There are no mis-steps, no false notes. Everything works. It all comes together gorgeously. With this book Katherine Addison has hit a storytelling hole in one and she is wizard and I would fear her terrible powers if I didn't know she will use them responsibly.

The only other suggestion I have is to read the section on how the elven names work in the end of the book before you start. I didn't and I figured everything out on my own, but I think it would be easier if I read it for.
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40 of 43 people found the following review helpful By Jessica on June 15, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Sarah Monette is one of my favorite authors, and her Doctrine of Labyrinths series is one of my all-time favorites, so I picked up her new book which is published under the pseudonym Katherine Addison.

One-sentence summary: half-goblin Maia is the fourth son of the emperor of the Elflands, and unexpectedly becomes emperor when his father and brothers are killed in an airship crash.

If it doesn't sound like much of a plot, that's because it's not. I really hope this was the first in a series because it is 95% worldbuilding and only 5% actual things happening. Also, as a general rule of thumb if you have to include a cast of characters, glossary, and grammar guide for your reader to know what's going on, you're probably doing something wrong. I nearly gave up in the first few pages because I couldn't pronounce any of the names and couldn't keep them straight. I'm fine with detailed worldbuilding, but if I can't get interested in the characters because I can't keep track of who's who, it is hurting rather than helping.

This book also suffers from my main annoyance with Monette's writing: her use of dialect. The dialect in this book adds nothing to the story or the atmosphere; it just makes it hard for me to understand what people are saying. Also, the elaborate naming schemes and honorifics detract from the reading experience rather than adding to the atmosphere.

That said, I still enjoyed this book. I found the characters interesting and compelling. I just wish they actually DID something.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By William Kerney VINE VOICE on May 6, 2014
Format: Hardcover
So why three stars? My first inclination was to give it five stars, but after reflecting on it for the last couple days since finishing it, there's a few things that really bother me about the book.

First of all, the author seems to have deliberately made the book hard to follow (the quotes on the book cover call it "Challenging, but worth it!"). It's not like Malazan Book of the Fallen difficult, but the author intentionally doesn't make it clear what a character's actual, you know, *name* is. So within the space of three paragraphs, you might have a character called six different combinations of their three different names (personal name, clan name, office). And then about twice per chapter, you'll realize you have literally no idea who the main character is talking to, and have to use clues from context to figure it out ("Oh, this person knew about the exile in chapter one... flip to chapter one, re-read chapter one... ah, I see. He's a completely unimportant servant who is mentioned nowhere else in the story except here.")

As a word of advice: there *is* an Appendix in the back. But the Appendix didn't actually include the names of any of the characters I actually tried to look up.

My guess is that the author was intending the readers to absorb all the rules of the world through osmosis (titles and clan names have various declensions that only become obvious once you're about halfway through the book), which I do actually appreciate, but it again seems to just be deliberately designed to confuse the reader.

I highly recommend reading the book straight through, rather than reading it a chapter or two at a time, as I did. You'll be able to keep track of the long list of NPCs in your head much more easily if you do it that way.
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