The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison

Maia is youngest son of the Elven emperor, who has spent most of his life banished from the court as his mother was a goblin. When a tragedy occurs to the emperor and his other sons, Maia unexpectedly finds himself the new emperor and has to deal with the ramifications of this, the intrigue of the court of which he knows nothing and the prejudice of most people due to his half goblin blood.

So this is a book where not a lot happens in regards to battles or end of the world events. The vast majority of it is inside Maia’s head where he has to overcome years of abuse and solitude in a court that is mostly unknown and is at best not outright hostile to him. He is a great sympathetic character and you want things to work out for him from the start. The only person who he ever had in his life that showed him any kindness was his mother who passed away when he was young. So half the book is him trying to maintain the poise of an emperor while putting out the most delicate threads of friendship to some of the new people in his life. It is both sad and heartwarming.

There is a more prosaic plot, that of trying to unmask a conspiracy in court, but in all honesty though it was interesting, I was mainly eager to read to find out what happened with Maia on a personal basis. I have read some primarily character based stories before but this was one of the first I think that really didn’t have some sort of cataclysmic part to it as well.

The only thing that really bothered me was the names and titles of characters. There is a guide to pronunciation and forms of address at the start but it didn’t help. You do get used to it but I never got very comfortable and even towards the end it took me a bit sometimes to know what character was talking or being referred to. It all makes sense in world but for us observers I found it off-putting in parts.

So, due to its slow nature and mostly being a character study, it might not be for everyone. Don’t go looking for big battles and epic feats of magic, but if you’re looking for something a little slower, with a whole load of court intrigue thrown in, this could be a good option. I thoroughly enjoyed it and I’m sure that this will be read again at some stage.

5 stars

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