Review – The Goblin Emperor

Cover of The Goblin Emperor by Katherine AddisonThe Goblin Emperor, Katherine Addison

Yes, again already. I can’t really justify doing a whole new review for this, but I felt the need to at least record that I read it again and loved it just as much — loved the characters, giggled, got embarrassed for them, wanted to just high five someone when they did awesome things. This book is up there among my discoveries of Robin Hobb, Scott Lynch, N.K. Jemisin, Guy Gavriel Kay… I believe it’s Hugo eligible, and I’m pretty sure I’m going to vote again this year for the sake of this book.

Why do I like it so much? Well, here’s my original review; reading the book again, I was excited about the characters (as you can tell from my first paragraph), but also by the world Addison’s created. There’s stuff that’s like the Tudor court or Regency Britain; there’s a more Eastern influence on the religion; there’s steampunk; there’s all the politics, the elf families, the history with other peoples that is only touched on. There’s so much going on with the place of women, the place of queer people in the court, racial difference… and it’s not as if this is a utopia where everything is just as we would wish it, but it’s a world undergoing change with some people meeting it, some people trying to hold it back, some people quietly unaware…

I like a lot of the things it doesn’t show us face-on, too. The complexities of Setheris’ character, his relationship with his wife; Maia’s father, and the fact that despite his neglect of Maia, his court love and respect him; the lot of the more common people which we only glimpse by hear-say; the Great Avar’s court and his relationships with his family. While it’s a rich world, it goes much more for immersion than for infodumping. And if you begin it confused, well, so does Maia; he’s been kept away from most of this society for most of his life, so he’s in the same boat.

I can understand, objectively, that this book is not for everyone. Even some people whose tastes I share quite closely. Subjectively, though, if you don’t like Maia and his struggles, I don’t know if we can be friends.

(I’m joking. I think. Mostly.)

Rating: 5/5 with bells on


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