The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison



I’m finding a theme in a lot of the books I’m reading lately of people in difficult circumstances choosing kindness and compassion. In this fantasy novel, it is Maia, half-Goblin, half-Elf, who is making this choice. Maia is the exiled and mostly forgotten youngest son of the Emperor of the Elflands, who finds himself thrust into the role of Emperor when his father and his older brothers are killed in an airship crash. Maia is only 18, and has grown up isolated and unloved after the early death of his beloved Goblin mother. Raised by an angry and abusive cousin, he knows nothing of the politics or etiquette of the Court, and is ill at ease among others in general, and particularly among the aristocratic Elf Court. His anxiety and sense of isolation only increase when he learns that the airship accident that killed his father and brothers was sabotage.

What I liked so much about his book, as strange as it may sound, was the lack of action. Maia is a very lonely and anxious character, and in the midst of trying to understand the political intrigue and ways of the Court, he is just trying to figure out who he can trust, who he is, and who, if anyone, he can count as a friend. There is no real love story, no epic battles in this book. Just a thoughtful, cerebral story of a young man trying to figure out how to be a good person, how to be a good leader, and how to find a friend. It is a surprisingly gentle and heartfelt book, and it was nice to see goblins get some love for a change. I listened to this audiobook on Hoopla and very much enjoyed it.

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