The Goblin Emperor

Katherine Addison
The Goblin Emperor Cover

The Goblin Emperor

Ann Walker

The Goblin Emperor is the story of Maia, the half-goblin son of the King of the Elflands, who ascends the throne upon the death of his father and brothers. The result of an unpopular political alliance, Maia was raised in exile under the dubious care of a physically and emotionally abusive guardian after the death of his mother.

My first question, throughout the early chapters of the book, was, "How is he so nice, after the way he's been raised? How is he so kind, compassionate, generous, wise?" The reason (as was brought out in the course of the story) is that his mother, in the eight years they had together, raised him so, and the ten years of abuse afterwards did not change the fundamental goodness of his character.

My other concern was my huge embarrassment squick: for many chapters I was certain that Maia was about to commit some horrible, outrageous faux-pas. (Spoiler: he didn't.) You can probably guess from these two concerns that this is a character-driven book, and not a particularly plotty one. Of course you have some plots elements that are to be expected: self-seeking courtiers, coup attempts, murder attempts, the search for a suitable bride, but the emphasis on the story is on Maia, and the people around him, and how they all adjust to each other for the good of the kingdom and, to some extent, the known world.

The world! That is the other outstanding element here, the worldbuilding: absolutely rich and dense and delicious. The history! The clothes! The food! The rising tide of feminism! The goblin princess who ran away to become a pirate! It's all just delicious, delicious. I can already see The Goblin Emperor becoming a favorite comfort reread.