Hello Humans! Welcome to another readalong post, as you may recall from my The Tangled Lands readalong, today (because I do intend to finish this book in a day) I’ll be reading The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison. This book was recently released in the UK by Oxford-based publisher Solaris with a stunning foiled cover that just called to me from the bookshop – I had to get it. So join me as I read a book that honestly good go either way for me…time will tell.
A vividly imagined fantasy of court intrigue and dark magics in a steampunk-inflected world, by a brilliant young talent.
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 favour 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 spectre 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.
Ok, so, personal preference time, I suck at remembering names and affiliations, it’s why any court politics book requires at least two reads before I know what’s going on – I re-read State of Sorrow just so I could be sure I was rooting for the right people. This book involves quite a few obscure names and titles and so forth and off the bat I’m not sure if I’m going to enjoy this first read too much. That’s entirely personal and will certainly not impact the read of a person who is not me and who has the ability to retain a name for more than a page and a half.
But I like the concept so far, and I enjoy the setting – for an elfen court it isn’t too pretentious and when it is it’s at least self-aware. I’m pretty excited to see where this plot goes.
A long part and, disclaimer, I have while reading part two also cleaned our entire flat top to bottom which involved no small amount of cleaning chemicals so excuse me if this comes across as more incoherent than usual but I am flying a little high right now…
I am most impressed at myself and at this book because I still have a pretty decent idea of who everyone is. I had also forgotten how much I love a ‘finding my feet’ narrative and I’m interested to see the fall as this part was quite a lot of what seemed like good decision making that I fully expect to come round and bite our eponymous emperor in his half-goblin butt.
I find some of the more ‘courtly’ language a little stilted but I think that’s deliberate, the creation of this very formal, etiquette-driven society of which the emperor knows very little is certainly an unsettling setting for anyone who, like me, frequently finds themselves putting their foot in it…
Yeah, I’m around half way through and I think this is pretty good going! That could be the bleach fumes talking – we’ll see how much I remember heading into part three.
I am absolutely invested in this goblin emperor’s career(?) at this point. I don’t care if half the names have blurred into one – I’m here for it. I will say this is more one of those ‘I’m telling you what happens’ than a ‘beginning middle and end’ kind of a story – or at least that’s how it feels so far, with only 100 pages to go.
We’ve had some drama and some quite intense moments in part three that did up the ante somewhat, so I’m not saying this story is devoid of plot and action, but it is more of a slow burn than a fast-paced kind of thing.
I would like there to be a few more female characters who speak and do things…I think that might be my only criticism – but I think this is because of the culture that Maia’s father produced and you can’t necessarily re-write that in the space of the book…maybe.
I’m ready to finish this, I’m hoping that part four will have all of the plot – otherwise, this will have been a bit of an odd one, to have got through all this quite dense prose and not have a plot at the end would be dissapointing.
Part Four and Five
I joined these two up because part five is only a couple of chapters and is more of an epilogue than anything else.
A good ending, still quite slow but in more of a ‘tying the knots’ kind of way than a boring way. I really enjoyed it and I think my thoughts can be summed up best in the final verdict.
I really really enjoyed this, and I’m quite surprised at how much. I started out feeling like it would all be a bit too much, too many names, too much politicking – you know how it is. But this book has so much heart in it, and I think everyone can relate to at one time or another having had that feeling of being totally out of your depth and not knowing who to trust. I truly felt for Maia in a way I didn’t expect to at the start.
I might have liked a few more women – though they got more prominent towards the end – and maybe a shade more worldbuilding, if only because this world seemed so interesting. I guess I’ll have to wait for the companion novel like everyone else…
My rating: 4/5 stars
I bought this book myself, all opinions are my own.
What will the TBR jar choose next?
It’s Goldenhand, another one of my Kindle acquisitions! I’m excited to read this book despite hearing mixed reviews… we shall see!
What say you? Have you read The Goblin Emperor? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!