Books : reviews

Katherine Addison.
The Goblin Emperor.
Tor. 2014

rating : 3 : worth reading
review : 3 September 2015

A half-goblin, the youngest son of the emperor has lived his entire life in exile, far from the Imperial Court and the intrigue that surrounds it. But then his father and three half brothers—who are the heirs to the throne ahead of him—die together in an airship crash. Maia is summoned to take his father’s throne.

For Maia, life in the capital is a bewildering and exhausting daily test of his mettle. And before long he discovers his father and half brothers’ deaths were no accident. The airship was tampered with. The crash was murder.

With no friends, no advisers, and no schooling in the art of court politics, the only thing Maia knows for certain is that whoever was behind the assassinations must still be plotting an attempt on his life.

Maia is the despised half-goblin son of the emperor, destined to live out his life in exile with a retainer who hates him. But an accident propels him to the throne, where he must survive, despite being totally untrained, and many think unsuited, for the task.

Of course, he does well. It’s that sort of book. But it is an enjoyable ride watching him grow into the role, and into himself, while avoiding being trapped by the intrigues and custom of an interestingly-drawn elves-and-goblins steampunk-ish fantasy world.

I picked this up because it was a nomination for the 2015 Hugo. I suspect I would have enjoyed it a lot more if I hadn’t had my expectations raised by that. It’s well written, and a good read, but I don’t think it’s up at the level of Hugo winner material (it polled second). However, not every book is, or need be, Hugo material, and I will certainly be looking out for more works by Addison (a pen name of Sarah Monette).