The Goblin Emperor
By: Katherine Addison
Format/Source: eBook; my purchase
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 advisors, 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.
At long last I finally got around to reading this book last year. This book has been sitting on my to-read list for a couple of years now–sure, it’s been on my Kobo, but still. The premise sounded really interesting but I felt like I had to be in a particular mood to read it. So here we are 🙂
I was right that I should be in a particular mood to read it because it really is an absorbing read. It took a while to get around to the worldbuilding as it was very expansive and detailed. I don’t think I remembered half of the names of the characters in their entirety but it was very interesting how the name system worked, as well as the details about every tradition and custom; it was very elaborate, it felt like a very real world. And because of the detail, you really get a sense of Maia feeling out of place as he’s found himself thrust into the role of emperor and life in the imperial court.
The novel was very much a coming-of-age story in that Maia never expected to play any role in his father’s court–was shunned and despised, even–only to find himself in the role of new emperor and navigating the politics and his new role, the loneliness that accompanies such a role, the prejudice he faces because of his half-goblin side, the neglect and abuse he endured growing up. His loneliness was heart-wrenching and as ill-suited as it seemed he was in his new role, I was rooting for Maia to succeed, to persevere against all odds and show everyone what he was capable of, to move beyond his past.
This review does this book no justice, and it has been a while since I read it but if this book at all intrigues you, I do encourage you to stick with it. It can be a little overwhelming at first but I found I could not put it down once I got a sense of what the world was about. The book felt like a mix of genres: political thriller, court intrigue, a family drama, a coming of age tale. Overall I highly recommend The Goblin Emperor!