Title: The Goblin Emperor
Author: Katherine Addison
Published: April 1, 2014
Publisher: Tor Books
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Maia, fourth son of the Emperor of the Elven lands, was exiled from the Imperial Court and relegated to an outlying estate as a child following the death of his mother. After all, with three sons before him (and the fact that he was half-goblin), there was really no need to have him present. And because of these facts, he never expected he would see the Court again. But when the Emperor and everyone in the line of succession before Maia is killed when their airship crashes, Maia finds himself suddenly returning to the Imperial Court for a purpose no one–including Maia–ever would have expected: to take his now rightful place on the throne. But becoming Emperor certainly isn’t easy. There are those who certainly oppose Maia’s ascendance to the crown. And his absence from Court means he missed out on much of the necessary education to fully understand all of the requirements, expectations, and duties of his new role. Add to that the revelation that the death of his father was not an accident, and Maia certainly has his work cut out for him if he’s going to keep his realm prospering and his people inspired.
Talk about some well-written fantasy here. Katherine Addison has created a wonderful world with a rich history and a very complex set of relationships between these characters. While not poised as a mystery per se, it also contains a whodunnit plot line that certainly kept me guessing until the end, too. It’s very easy to become invested in these characters, to see all of their dimensions (including their flaws), and really understand what motivates them. The players here are certainly not stock characters by any means and the storytelling is masterful.
It can be easy to feel intimidated by the 12-page list of names at the end of the book: but I say don’t be. While there are a lot of names (some of which are a bit similar due to family relationships), I found it is always very easy to understand who is who by relationships. In pretty much every scene, it is apparent the role each person plays either in relation to the Imperial Court or to Maia and thus it’s easy to track the major players that way.