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.
©2014 Katherine Addison (P)2014 Tantor
"A spellbinding and genuinely affecting drama. Unreservedly recommended." (Kirkus Starred Review)
3.5 stars for this predominantly heartwarming coming-of-age-in-politics piece, but fantastic 5-star narration by Kyle McCarley. Well-modulated British accent fit the characters nicely.
The story itself was not what I expected. I thought this would be a politically-focused fantasy, with magic and mystery abounding. Well, there was a wee pinch of magic, occurring only once or twice in the entire story. There was a mystery, but it stayed in the background for the most part.
This book could be any realistic narrative about day-to-day events as a young, untrained, unwanted boy (named Maia -- pronounced Maya -- age 18) takes over his suddenly dead father's throne as emperor of the elves. The light-skinned, white-haired elves. But Maia is only half-eleven, since his mother was a goblin. His skin and hair is dark. This brings to mind racial tensions, but honestly, the author didn't expound much on the potential for bias.
Instead, Addison chronicles the day to day transformation of Maia, from a frightened, under-confident, ignorant, and yet kind-hearted young emperor to a wise, compassionate, confident, beloved, and grace-fueled leader. The entire book chronicles the first season of his reign, from winter's first snowfall to the heavy spring rains.
Maia was ignored by his cruel father (the elven emperor) from birth. The emperor rejected Maia and his beloved goblin mother. At age 8, when his mother died, he was sent to live far away in the marshlands with only an abusive drunk and some servants. He received no proper education.
When he arrived at court to rule at age 18, he was regarded with suspicion and disdain. However, he consistently strove to repudiate his ego and repress his need for vengeance against those who ridiculed him, abused him, attempted to kill him. Instead, he focused on fulfilling his duty to the people. This included building bridges -- of one sort and another.
Quibbles: It grew a bit boring at times. The characters were difficult to remember. Too many similar sounding foreign names and words to keep track of, and the audio has no glossary, unlike the book. Also, I saw no reason for his abusive cousin Setheris to reasonably expect anything from him. I didn't like his constant need to apologize or beg pardon for no good reason. It grew tiresome and didn't befit an emperor -- as he was advised by his capable secretary, Scevat. (Plus, I don't like being around people who apologize continually. Makes me feel irritable.)
Maia was almost too good-kind. Not quite credible, nor fully likable. I'm not necessarily a huge fan of grimdark fantasy, but this went too far the other way. I liked Maia best when he showed his "human" side -- expressed interest in beautiful girls, delighted wonder at the model bridge the clockmaker built, grew irritated with having to wear so much jewelry, missed his mama, and told Severis off.
Probably won't read a sequel, if one is written, but maybe. Despite my quibbles, I found it oddly compelling. Would probably like it better after a second listen. Quite decent writing, easy to follow (except for the exhaustive and highly confusing invented language).
Maya is the half-goblin son of the Emperor. He was exiled since birth but has now been recalled because he must become the new Emperor after the death of his father and brothers. I loved this political fantasy when I read it, and worried about the narration because of all the difficult Elvish and Goblin terms. The narrator does a FANTASTIC job of making the words sound totally natural, and also provides great voices for the characters. (His female voices are weaker but in this book, most of the speaking characters are males.)
Maia is the disregarded half-goblin son of the Elvin emperor. The emperor and his three eldest sons die in an accident, leaving the unprepared Maia to assume the throne. He faces many challenges in court-whom to trust, the resentment of his father and brother's widows, learning court politics, choosing a bride, and making the right choices for himself and his empire. This is a wonderful story filled with intrigue and politics with a hint of romance. The protagonist Maia is very well developed and he makes mistakes without appearing stupid. The supporting characters are three dimensional and have interesting personalities and back stories. Kyle McCarley makes each person come alive with his or her own voice. Even without the explanatory text, the listener knows who is speaking based upon McCarley's narration alone. Though the synopsis places this book in the young adult category, the writing, character development, and story are very mature and adult. Maia is young and naïve and new to court but he faces his situation with remarkable courage and self awareness.
The setting is highly developed and the dialogue realistic and engaging. Addison's world contains some magic, some of which is spiritual. The goblins aren't the typical short treasure-hoarding little monsters usually found in fantasy. They are more civilized and have their own culture. Though the goblins and elves are separate species, Addison depicts them more as different ethnicities. I can't compliment this book enough. I've been recommending it to everyone I know who has even the slightest interest in fantasy. My only complaint is that The Goblin Emperor is a stand-alone title. At this time, Addison doesn't plan to write a sequel. The story ends very neatly; however, I am disappointed no further adventures are forthcoming.
I probably wouldn't but if there is a sequel I would definitely listen to that.
This was a sweet book. I found the main character's interactions and his love for his dead mother quite touching. I like that he succeeded on his own terms and resisted being forced into a mold.
Such a fun book! I think the audio version is a great way to go with this book. The language is very formal and odd, using "thou" and "thy" type words. I think it would irritate me if I were reading it but when listening, it all fits together very well.
I loved this book when I read the ebook, loved it more with Kyle's narration. His voice acting is astounding and his talent is boundless.
Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some to be chewed and digested. – Sir Francis Bacon
I really loved this book, it gave great insight into the mind of the ruler it was describing. It seems like a very realistic depiction of what a person would feel if thrust into a situation where they were wholly unprepared to lead. Additionally, I enjoy the fact that the main characters seeming love interest is not the most beautiful woman he meets but instead is a woman he grows to like, and who is described as "not beautiful".
Not what I'd expect from a Hugo nominee. It is a charming read though and the narrator is engaging. It drags a bit though.
A detailed coming of age story filled with complex court etiquette, politics, intrigue and a little action. If you are looking for a basic swords 'n sorcery fantasy this is not the book for you. But the author is so inventive- her elvish/goblin kingdom is full of dirigible airships, pneumatic tubes, burgeoning women's rights and the industrial revolution, among other things. It takes the basic tropes of elves and goblins and puts them into a completely new and believable setting. On top of it, her complex court rituals and the 'window dressing' of her worldbuilding is detailed and fascinating. It makes me eager to see what she writes next. The main character, Maya, who becomes emperor totally unexpectedly, is insecure and immature and has to quickly grow up and get wise to how things work. I found this process both touching and realistic. I am very impressed with the narrator, whose voices were distinctive but mostly because (having read the book) I enjoyed hearing the many complicated names of people, places and things pronounced correctly! I do think some of the names could be confusing if you have not read the book first, but either way, I think this is well worth the credit.
Possibly. For the first half, I think I missed some details. It wasn't until maybe half way through that I was able to figure out how names and titles worked in this world. Once I figured that out, some of the dialog made a lot more sense.
It was very different. There wasn't a lot of action. I don't think it's a spoiler to say that almost the entire story takes place in just a couple of rooms inside a palace. The depth of the world and language building made the listen really great.
The narrator was also fantastic. I've been on Audible for several years now, and he has to be one of the top 5 narrators I've listened to. His accents, cadence, and emotions were spot on.
I don't know how to say it without giving away too much, but there is a scene towards the end where much is revealed. The scene takes place in a jail, and It almost makes the audience question if the bad guy is really a bad guy or not.
In the print or E-Book versions, there is an index in the back. If you can somehow get your hands on it, there is a section titled: "A HANDBOOK FOR TRAVELERS IN THE ELFLANDS". It's only a few pages, but it helps out so much in understanding the the titles of nobility and formality used in the book. I kept getting confused between characters until I discovered this.
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