Review: The Goblin Emperor

goblinemperorFrom Tolkien, to Donaldson and into the Dragonlance series, fantasy novels have followed a tried and true formula – go under the mountain, defeat the evil, collect treasure. With Tad Williams’s Sorrow, Memory and Thorn a greater empahsis was placed on political intrigue and world building; something George Martin has recently hit the mainstream doing.

Katherine Addison’s The Goblin Emperor is a new entry into the fantasy / political intrigue setting, which is based in a steam punk world rather than a medieval setting. It tells the story of Maia – a half Goblin , half Elf child living in near exile – who becomes the Empreror following the death of the rest of the royal family. From there, Maia becomes involved in the strange world of the Emperor’s court, as he deals with his new responsibilities, the intrigues, and to find the cause of the death of his family.

The characters are charming enough to keep the book entertaining, and the audio presentation by Kyle McCarley is able to differentiate between characters. The only draw back with the characters is the sheer number of them, and in the audio version it can be difficult to remember how characters are connected. The world building is sufficient enough to be interesting, but filling a book with strange sounding locations can be confusing, especially when locations start sounding similar.

Under all this, there is the uncovering of the plot to kill the royal family. This is something that pops up every now again, but in some places doesn’t seem urgent . The solution of the conspiracy was something that left me feeling a little underwhelmed.

Overall, The Goblin Emperor is an enjoyable, charming read, especially for those into the court intrigue in a fantasy setting. The book is let down more by its world than anything. Perhaps there might be more depth in the sequel the genre almost certainly demands.

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