The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison – Review

Cover- The Goblin Emperor

Published: April 1, 2014

Publisher: Tor Books

Genre: Fantasy

Pages: 446 (Hardcover)

My Rating: 5.0/5.0


The youngest, half-goblin son of the Emperor has lived his entire life in exile, distant from the Imperial Court and the deadly intrigue that suffuses it. But when his father and three sons in line for the throne are killed in an “accident,” he has no choice but to take his place as the only surviving rightful heir.

Entirely unschooled in the art of court politics, he has no friends, no advisors, and the sure knowledge that whoever assassinated his father and brothers could make an attempt on his life at any moment.

Surrounded by sycophants eager to curry favor with the naïve new emperor, and overwhelmed by the burdens of his new life, he can trust nobody. Amid the swirl of plots to depose him, offers of arranged marriages, and the specter of the unknown conspirators who lurk in the shadows, he must quickly adjust to life as the Goblin Emperor. All the while, he is alone, and trying to find even a single friend… and hoping for the possibility of romance, yet also vigilant against the unseen enemies that threaten him, lest he lose his throne – or his life.

This exciting fantasy novel, set against the pageantry and color of a fascinating, unique world, is a memorable debut for a great new talent.

The Goblin Emperor was recommended to me by a fellow blogger, and I am VERY appreciative of the rec because this was such a fantastic book. After getting somewhat fed up with large scale stories about saving the world/the human race/whatever (read here), I wanted to read something that was on a more personal level and the Goblin Emperor was a perfect example of that. The story focuses on Maia, the fourth son of an emperor who exiled him to an out of the way country estate. Maia’s father and elder brothers perish unexpectedly in an airship crash and he must now take up the mantle of emperor and rule a court that is utterly alien to him.

This stand-alone novel was beautifully rendered and captured the essence of what it’s like to be thrust into a world that you know nothing about. The reader learns about the courtly protocols and politics as Maia does and at no point is it overwhelming to the reader to traverse this new world. The names of the characters are lengthy and can have some very unusual letter combinations, but never fear! There is a pronunciation guide in the back, and though it didn’t provide each name broken down phonetically, it was useful. There is also a compilation of the character names and their roles (dramatis personae?), which was handy due to several similarly named people.

Maia (Edrahasivar VII) is so simple to understand and sympathize with, largely due to his kindness. As we go through the story, we see how different he is from his elven father and how like his goblin mother he is. He is kind to those below him in rank, honest, and tries to work fairly with everyone. His mixed heritage is but one of his obstacles upon arriving to court, but it is one that plagues him continually. There were many instances when I cringed inwardly at his situations, but somehow he made it through them.

I would love to give away loads of details but I don’t want to spoil the enjoyment of reading this book. It’s truly wonderful and is filled with exciting events without being ostentatious. I can’t recommend this enough and am glad that it was brought to my attention as well!

3 thoughts on “The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison – Review

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