The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison

The Goblin Emperor is a 483 page novel, by Katherine Addison, published by Tor Fantasy in April of 2014. I read the novel with a friend, who suggested the book to me in the first place.

The Goblin EmperorMaia, a half-goblin teenage boy, is forced to leave his secluded home at Edonomee after the emperor–a man who may have begot Maia but certainly never raised or loved him–and the emperor’s three sons die in an explosion. Maia assumes a busybody life at the Imperial Court, taking his place as the new emperor. Roughly the first half of the book deals with Maia being awkward, confused, and embarrassingly ignorant about goings on in the empire and the machinations of the Imperial Court.

Besides that, nothing much happens–Maia asks endless series of questions about who is whom and what is what in order to get situated in a court he was never before welcome in. He speaks and thinks in a formal court dialect. We’re talking thee, thou, thine, the whole shebang. I’m not sure why Addison chose to feature a dialect that Maia struggled with, other than to make his segregation from the elite even more noticeable. Regardless, the “refined” language and molasses-slow pacing throughout the first two parts (read ~225 pages) of the novel were a struggle to trudge through. However, once part three begins, things finally begin to pick up.

Rumors of a purposeful murder, of assassination plots, and of much more pepper the second half of the book, bringing my interest up along with the rising action. This is where Addison shines–she keeps action in the background, with thoughts and social issues at the forefront. For example, she focuses heavily on race–as members of court persistently judge Maia for being half goblin, the reason he was shipped off to live in isolation at Edonomee in the first places.

Elves, who predominate at Court glow with pale skin and aristocraticracy. Maia’s grandfather–a full-goblin king–comes to visit the Court, showcasing base manners, his love for things loud and dirty, and his big beautiful black self. Addison has Maia noting precisely the shade of each and every goblin’s skin, eyes, and hair, and how that sets them apart from the white, waifish elves. Past the repeated descriptions, I think Addison handled the idea of race well in the book–it was something much different than the typical magical race differences, which added an extra layer to the political intrigue of court.

Overall, The Goblin Emperor was a good first novel, but was by no means an extraordinary tale. Addison brings new ideas to the elf/dwarfgoblin debate and succeeds at wrapping up an exciting murder mystery into political intrigue in an almost quiet manner. The plot could use some serious work in regards to pacing, but the bits that moved the story along were truly thrilling.

TITLE: The Goblin Emperor
AUTHOR: Katherine Addison
PAGES: 483
ALSO WROTE: Nothing, yet!
SORT OF LIKE: Game of Thrones, The Perks of Being a Wallflower
FIRST LINE: Maia woke with his cousin’s cold fingers digging into his shoulder.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s