The Goblin Emperor

Katherine Addison
The Goblin Emperor Cover

The Goblin Emperor


For me, this was a book that had some promise, but that fell well short of what it could have been. The writing was reasonably competent (although sometimes clunky) and the world could have been interesting, but everything felt washed out and unmemorable. There wasn't too much of a plot, so this was meant to have been a character-driven fantasy of manners and court intrigues, but the characters never came alive. The same was true for the world - and even the plot. The villians were ham-handed and toothless, the young and feckless emperor was remarkable lucky both in having loyal helpers land in his lap, and in his ability to cannily (and improbably) navigate the supposedly treacherous shoals of court life. The witty and sharp banter that was needed to carry the book was mostly absent. Even the frequently used Tortoise room was largely just a void in my imagination - little had been done to paint this intriguingly named room wherein much of the "action" took place. I could go on in this vein, but there's not really much point.

Writing this, I was somehow reminded of a vastly better book of court intrigue - Mistress of Mistresses by E. R. Eddison. Full of rich, complex, multi-dimensional and riveting characters, it is written in gorgeous language (Eddison is an absolute master of prose - the best I've ever read, bar none).

So, read Goblin Emperor if you like - it's not a bad book, but if you want to mainline the real thing, read Eddison instead of Addison.