Monday, May 31, 2021

The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison: review

5/5 stars on Goodreads

The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison

I’ve had The Goblin Emperor waiting on my e-reader for a long time for a suitable time to read it. Now that I have, I wish I’d read it soonerand that I could instantly read it again.

The book takes place in the Elfish Empire, in a world with clockworks and airships, magic and swords—and no humans. The emperor and his sons die in a tragic airship accident, leaving the youngest son Maia to inherit the throne. Maia is a half goblin, despised and ostracised by his father to a remote farm. He doesn’t know the first thing about being a ruler, the court, or how to conduct himself around other people. He doesn’t want to be a ruler, but instead of rueing his fate, he sets out to do his best.

Told solely from Maia’s perspective, the book follows him through the first bewildering days of his reign to when he finally starts to feel comfortable in his new life. In between there are power struggles, coup and assassination attempts, an investigation to his father’s death, and marriage negotiations where women aren’t given a say in who they want to marry—a state of affairs that Maia wishes to remedy, but finds nearly impossible to do.

At first, it seems like he’s alone facing the world, but little by little he realises that there are people around him that wish him good and are willing to help him to achieve his goals. The ending is hopeful yet wistful, as he realises that the one thing he cannot really have is genuine friendship.

Maia was a wonderful character. Thoroughly decent, and willing to be the best he can, not just as a ruler but as a person. He had many insecurities that he made a conscious effort to overcome, an ability to find good people to rely on, and a skill to bring out the best in people around him. He wasn’t perfect, but he was willing to apologise and make amends when he succumbed to anger or weakness. It was wonderful to watch him grow to become a great ruler.

The writing style was immersive even though it didn’t dwell on details, glossing over days and events, and often relying on telling instead of showing. The moments when the narrative paused to give a closer look on Maia’s life were all the sharper for it. The only confusing thing was the names. Everyone had honorifics that sounded similar from person to person, and given names that weren’t used, except occasionally, plus combinations of the same that made them seem like different persons. I was constantly lost, but even that didn’t mar my enjoyment of the book. The world would be a better place if we had more people like Maia in it.


No comments:

Post a Comment