- Audible Audio Edition
- Listening Length: 16 hours and 25 minutes
- Program Type: Audiobook
- Version: Unabridged
- Publisher: Tantor Audio
- Audible.com Release Date: June 10, 2014
- Whispersync for Voice: Ready
- Language: English
- ASIN: B00KLJ5OFQ
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank:
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The Goblin Emperor Audiobook – Unabridged
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Maia, the half goblin, half elf emperor to be is not a one dimensional "good" character in any way. He is self conscious, self deprecating, worries what people think about him, apologizes too often and is too eager to please. Most of the pain and deep challenges in his life happened off page years ago when he was a child. He had been subject to rejection, deep personal loss, as well as mental and physical abuse. Maia's faults are the result of his grappling with his personal demons.
He's not alone. He has his nohecheris, which is the book's version of personal guard as well as his secretary Csevet. These are the characters you'll come to know more closely, and the ones that Maia struggles with limiting his personal connection to. Maia has never had friends, and he is floundering all the same trying to find any type of emotional bond with someone in his court. This generally leads him into desperate relationships with people who would use his influence to their advantage. In a deep dark way, Maia knows this but like any young man, it's better all the same to have even the shadow of a connection to someone.
The reader will be abusing the Kindle's X-Ray feature in this book. Stopping to remind themselves of who is who, and stopping again and again until you eventually have a good memory of maybe 15 to 20 characters. The rest? Not so much. There are words for things I never quite caught on to, and words for events and areas and foods and everything in-between I let pass through my brain like sand through my hands. I reminded myself that this is a story about Maia and I would see his story though with all the characters that mattered to him. Everything else tended to be more or less background noise and I let it come and go and enjoyed everything about the book that I reasonably could, without consulting with the book's glossary at every turn. I found this the best way to enjoy the book, and mostly stress free.
There are twists and turns in the book. Some conflicts arise, including some dangerous plots that Maia has to overcome. Most of the severe dangerous parts of the book are resolved in three pages or less. There is an overarching murder mystery that pops in and out of the book, but Maia being an emperor means he sends someone off to learn of evil plot (spinoff book maybe?) and he simply gets updates as the book goes along. To summarize this: Don't expect tremendous amounts of action, blood or gore. In many ways, that works to the book's benefit more than it hinders anything else.
The author also has a knack for pacing. Introducing us to the court's governance the first time and with detail. But she's very quick to push us through those sequences the second or third time. There are characters that I want to see Maia interact with sooner than later, and what do you know...that character is the first Maia sees on his schedule. Sometimes coming in the room not soon after Csevet announces that character's intention to see the emperor. The book has no boring interludes and we don't have to read through a book with multiple characters desperate to get to our favorites. We just have Maia and his Court, and the author knows just what we want to read and when. Perfectly done.
There's more to the book, but that's about all I need to say. The metaphor of Maia becoming a bridge builder was a deeply satisfying message. To watch the people around Maia slowly fall in love with him and all his faults was moving to witness. It was a hopeful book and one that I believe is worth a read to everyone who cares anything about the fantasy genre. It's one of the best books I've read in the past year. Just let Kindle's X-Ray do all the lifting for you, and the dictionary as well. I've learned some new words reading through this.
The book is the story of how he learns to cope with his new position and with the stresses and dangers that go along with it. Indeed, in the beginning it looks as if he will have almost nothing but opposition primarily because of his Goblin mother (her marriage with his father was a political thing, hardly a love match, and she was sent off with her son to a remote corner of the Empire within a few months of it). But whether because he is descended from several generations of Emperors on both sides of the family or from some other cause, Maia appears to have a talent for governing despite the fact that his education in these matters has been somewhat lacking. And, no doubt owing to the sufferings of his childhood, he starts in at once to institute a kinder, gentler government that his father’s. By the end of the story, you can see that he will make an excellent Emperor. We should all be so fortunate in our rulers.
An interesting element is the impact on the tone of the story is the use of formal grammar in the court. Not only does the Emperor have to use the imperial “We” extensively, almost everyone else uses the formal forms of address almost exclusively except when they forget, or when deliberately making a point of being personal. In a culture where the formal and informal pronouns have very nearly merged – we use the old formal second-person plural “you” when speaking to almost anybody else, formally or not, and the old informal first-person singular “I” when referring to ourselves no matter what the context, unless we actually mean more than one of us, that the consistent use of one or the other is a little strange-sounding, but revealing of a different sort of culture.