The Goblin Emperor
by Katherine Addison
I’ve come across this book last year when it was nominated for a Hugo award. From all of the nominees I wanted to pick up at least one book to check out what goes for a note worthy science fiction these days. I was drawn into the story with an underdog character and intrigued with steampunk elements it promised.
The story begins with news that the emperor and most of his family and heirs have died in a crash of a royal steampunk airship. The apparent heir to the throne is long forgotten fourth son of the recently deceased emperor who has been tucked away from anyone’s sight for almost a decade. His father banished him as he did to most he did not like or care about. Thus, a secluded and mistreated youth moves to the heart of the empire to become the new emperor.
To top it all Maia – the new would be emperor – is part goblin from his mothers side. And the throne he is to sit upon is from his fathers side of the family which are elves. This is a story about how a smallish eighteen years old young man that has been living in the middle of nowhere, neglected and abused gets thrown into a whirlpool of court intrigue and tightly balanced politics.
Author was very thorough with intertwining subtle court and cultural intrigues. Most of the elaborate cultural details and quirks require readers patience. Some things I had to concentrate hard at to understand and had to read it more than once.
The colorful names and cultural subtleties gave me much grief. I would have loved to have read the names, customs and pronunciation guide at the beginning of it all instead at the end. This way I had a revelation reading the explanations at the end of the book.
I liked this book. It was fun rooting for Maia and reading about him becoming an emperor in truth. With great power comes great responsibility…and also many enemies as well! I liked that the story had a certain sense of flair and a feel of a great saga beginning to unfold.