My rating: 4 of 5 stars
4.5 stars, rounded down.
I listened to the audiobook version of this novel, which clocked in at 16 hours at 25 minutes. It was narrated by Kyla McCarley. I listened to this in just two main sit-downs, within a span of 48 hours. As you can see, I enjoyed this book and ate it up.
The world of this book has some steampunk qualities (like airships) and is full of court intrigue with hints of dark magics. The main character, Maia is the youngest (and half-goblin) son of the Emperor, and has lived the majority of his life in exile. The Empire is mostly made up of Elves, who look down on Goblins as “lesser than.” When the Emperor and his other three sons are killed in an airship “accident,” Maia has no choice but to take the throne as the only surviving rightful heir. An heir who was never trained to take on the position, who unfortunately has no friends or advisors to help him.
My biggest criticism for this book is the fact that there are So Many Characters, even though that is a common experience in Fantasy novels. I think the fact that I listened to this book instead of reading a physical copy/ebook version amplified this issue for me. Some of the names are so similar (partly due to the fact of familiar naming conventions in this universe) that it was really hard for me to understand who the main character Maia was speaking to at times.
That being said, Addison does a great job with world-building in this book. I enjoyed watching Maia come into his own while learning how to be an Emperor and while figuring out what really happened in the airship “accident” that claimed not only the lives of his estranged father and brothers, but also a good number of people who were working on the airship. I was pleased when he offered to pay for the headstone(s) of the workers killed in that accident.
It looks like this was originally a stand-alone novel when it was originally published in 2014. The author recently published a “stand-alone sequel” this past June, named The Witness for the Dead. The book follows the further exploits of one of my favorite side-characters in The Goblin Emperor, named Thara Celehar. Celehar is a queer character (though not in practice, you’re just told of his queer status when he tells Maia his backstory) and I’m excited to see if this sequel will explore that further.
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My rating: 4 of 5 stars