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The Goblin Emperor Mass Market Paperback – March 3, 2015
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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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
“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
“Impressively elaborate worldbuilding underpins this lovely fantasy novel, but I couldn't put it down because of the heart-grippingly sympathetic main character.” ―Kate Elliott, bestselling author of the Crossroads series
“Katherine Addison has written a nuanced and compelling story. Her world is unusual and vivid, her characters affecting, and her storytelling subtle and deft. This is a book I will be thinking about for a long time. Highly recommended!” ―D. B. Jackson, author of Thieftaker
Top customer reviews
The youngest and least loved of the Emperor's sons, Maia Drazhar knows life with his sadistic cousin is the only one he will ever lead. Born with dark gray skin and all but forgotten, he will never be welcome at court.
Until a horrible accident leaves the emperor and all his sons dead, except Maia.
Unschooled in the complexities of court life, Maia is thrust into the world of power and intrigue. Everyone wants something. Everyone has an ulterior motive. No one is his friend. He must decide quickly who he can trust, and who he can rely upon. Should he rule with aloof indifference to protect his own emotional well-being, as other emperors have done, or forge a new path? Will he even be allowed to become a knowledgeable and just leader for the people of this vast and diverse empire?
Beautiful prose and extraordinary world building, complete with several invented languages and cultures, make this book a joy to read. Imagine mixing Paul Atreides of Dune with Octavia Butler's Kindered in a Steampunk Downton Abby and throwing in Elves and Goblins. The novel is filled with wonderful, funny characters, each brought to life by Addison's loving hand. The protagonist, Maia, is instantly likable and carries much of the success of this novel. You can't help but root for him. Although some criticize the novel as being plotless, the story is heavily character driven and so the movements of the book are mostly about internal struggle. For me, the plot is very present.
The reading is light and hopeful but Addison touches on many of the darker issues of our time. She includes racism, sexist, homophobia, economic justice and class struggle, but she does not dwell on any of them. She is a little heavy handed with the theme but the nature of power is a theme worth considering.
Addison said during an interview on the Sword and Laser Podcast that The Goblin Emperor will not have a sequel, but I hope she reconsiders. I would be more than happy to revisit the Unthelenase court and see how my favorite characters fared.
Which I found to be confusing. I think it may be meant to be taken satirically. And she may well be poking fun at various human power structures. I don't know. But it was a bit distracting and did not lend a great deal to the story.
That said, the characters in this story are rather likable. And the protagonist, Maia, The Goblin Emperor, who takes the throne at 18, is a breath of fresh air. (At least for anyone who has grown weary of bitter, resentful, snarky and overly self-absorbed teenagers in these sorts of novels.) The conflicts are resolved rather quickly and the main character is not overly tortured - most of his torture happened in the past, off-page and wasn't physical. For high fantasy, it's relatively non-violent.
The focus is rather on the process of running a government. The vast array of decisions that need to be made. The papers that must be signed. The petty fiefdoms. And skirmishes.
How one must navigate through it all to get anything done.
Also, on gender politics. Women in this society are treated as lesser or subservient. Their worth measured in how many children they can provide and what connections they can obtain through marriage. They have little power and struggle in various ways to obtain it. It's a rather chauvinistic society - reminding me a great deal of Medieval Times. Most high fantasy takes place during the Medieval period for some reason. Not quite sure why exactly. There are some rather interesting female characters in the novel, and some strong ones, both villains and heroines, although not sure you can make that sharp of a distinction.
At any rate without giving away too much - I do recommend it. But it does drag a bit in the middle and towards the end. It clocks in at 446 pages.