Title: The Goblin Emperor
Author: Katherine Addison
Publisher: Tor Books
Publication Date: April 2014
Length: 448 pages
Series: Stand Alone
Audio or Book: Book
Reason for Discovery: ARC
I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
The youngest, half-goblin son of the Emperor has lived his entire life in exile, distant from the Imperial Court and the deadly intrigue that suffuses it. But when his father and three sons in line for the throne are killed in an "accident," he has no choice but to take his place as the only surviving rightful heir.
Entirely unschooled in the art of court politics, he has no friends, no advisers, and the sure knowledge that whoever assassinated his father and brothers could make an attempt on his life at any moment.
Surrounded by sycophants eager to curry favor with the naïve new emperor, and overwhelmed by the burdens of his new life, he can trust nobody. Amid the swirl of plots to depose him, offers of arranged marriages, and the specter of the unknown conspirators who lurk in the shadows, he must quickly adjust to life as the Goblin Emperor. All the while, he is alone, and trying to find even a single friend... and hoping for the possibility of romance, yet also vigilant against the unseen enemies that threaten him, lest he lose his throne – or his life.
Maia is the fourth son of the emperor. His father isn't keen on him, because he was forced to marry his mother, a goblin. After Maia's mother became pregnant, she and Maia were sent to live in one of the rural palaces. When Maia is a young boy, his mother dies. For the next ten years or so, his cousin becomes his guardian and proceeds to make his life miserable. One late night, Maia's cousin wakes him up and tells him that Maia's father and older brothers are dead. Maia is the new emperor. Suddenly, Maia has to learn how to be an emperor.
I really enjoyed this quirky little book. Yes, it is your standard "nobody" becomes ruler of a large kingdom and has little to no experience. However, Addison does a great job making this story different. First, although Maia is inexperienced and needs a lot of help, his cousin did teach him some court behavior, so he is not completely at a loss. It was nice that Maia knew the right phrases to say and whatnot from the get go. Second, the writing style was unique. Addison used a standard third-person limited format, so you get a good amount of Maia's thoughts and feelings; however, the focus of this book is really on the dialogue. Unlike other books that would have lots of paragraphs on feelings and description, this book reads like a movie script. I say this in a good way. I have read this type of story before, and I didn't want to read a whiny kid's feelings about how life is hard. With Addison's focus on the dialogue, she masterly circumnavigates this issue. The reader knows when Maia is stressed, but the reader doesn't have to read lots of complaints. The reader gets to see how Maia handles court conflicts instead.
I only had two concerns with this book. First, I felt that the book meandered a bit. I enjoyed every minute of it, but I felt that the book didn't have nice tight plot arc. I felt like the book could have wrapped up at any moment. With that said, I ate up every minute of it. Maia was a neat character, and I really enjoyed seeing how he handled legal disputes, his marriage, and courtly intrigues. Second, I needed a bit more description of what the characters looked like. Maia is half-goblin and his mother was a goblin. I think his father was an elf, but I wasn't sure. I am pretty sure that elves in this world are more classic elf and not JRR Tolkien-type of elf (tall and Orlando Bloom-like). The main descriptions of the characters involved their skin color and their ears. The lack of physical descriptions caused me to imagine all the characters as humanoid with big ears.
The characters had fun and fantastical names. Keeping the characters and their names straight can be confusing; however, there is a list of all of the character names and what their roles are. I wish I had noticed this in the beginning. It would have been super helpful.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book. The pages flew by in this fantastic court intrigue novel. I can see myself rereading this book in the future. I am going to have to keep an eye out for Addison's next book.
I give this book a 4 out of 5.