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The Goblin Emperor Kindle Edition
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 favour 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 spectre of the unknown conspirators who lurk in the shadows, he must quickly adjust to life as the Goblin Emperor.
UNBOUND WORLDS 100 BEST FANTASY NOVELS OF ALL TIME
“Challenging, invigorating, and unique. If courtly intrigue is your wine of choice, The Goblin Emperor is the headiest vintage I've come across in years.” ―Scott Lynch, bestselling author of The Lies of Locke Lamora
“I enjoyed The Goblin Emperor a great deal. I was sucked right into her world of goblins, elves, and airships, and was anxious to the very end to find out how Maia, the unwanted halfblood son of the Emperor, who finds himself unexpectedly on the throne, learns to navigagte the intrigues and danger of the imperial court. An engrossing read!” ―Kristen Britain, New York Times bestselling author of Blackveil--This text refers to the hardcover edition.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
News Comes to Edonomee
Maia woke with his cousin’s cold fingers digging into his shoulder.
“Cousin? What…” He sat up, rubbing at his eyes with one hand. “What time is it?”
“Get up!” Setheris snarled. “Hurry!”
Obediently, Maia crawled out of bed, clumsy and sleep-sodden. “What’s toward? Is there a fire?”
“Get thy clothes on.” Setheris shoved yesterday’s clothes at him. Maia dropped them, fumbling with the strings of his nightshirt, and Setheris hissed with exasperation as he bent to pick them up. “A messenger from the court.That’s what’s toward.”
“A message from my father?”
“Is’t not what I said? Merciful goddesses, boy, canst do nothing for thyself? Here!” He jerked the nightshirt off, caring neither for the knotted strings nor for Maia’s ears, and shoved his clothes at him again. Maia struggled into drawers, trousers, shirt, and jacket, aware that they were wrinkled and sweat-stained, but unwilling to try Setheris’s ill temper by saying so. Setheris watched grimly by the single candle’s light, his ears flat against his head. Maia could not find his stockings, nor would Setheris give him time to search. “Come along!” he said as soon as Maia had his jacket fastened, and Maia followed him barefoot out of the room, noticing in the stronger light that while Setheris was still properly and fully attired, his face was flushed. So he had not been wakened from sleep by the emperor’s messenger, but only because he had not yet been to bed. Maia hoped uneasily that Setheris had not drunk enough metheglin to mar the glossy perfection of his formal court manners.
Maia ran his hands through his hair, fingers catching on knots in his heavy curls. It would not be the first time one of his father’s messengers had witnessed him as unkempt as a half-witted ragpicker’s child, but that did not help with the miserable midnight imaginings: So, tell us, how looked our son? He reminded himself it was unlikely his father ever asked after him in the first place and tried to keep his chin and ears up as he followed Setheris into the lodge’s small and shabby receiving room.
The messenger was maybe a year or so older than Maia himself, but elegant even in his road-stained leathers. He was clearly full-blooded elvish, as Maia was not; his hair was milkweed-pale, and his eyes the color of rain. He looked from Setheris to Maia and said, “Are you the Archduke Maia Drazhar, only child of Varenechibel the Fourth and Chenelo Drazharan?”
“Yes,” Maia said, bewildered.
And then bewilderment compounded bewilderment, as the messenger deliberately and with perfect dignity prostrated himself on the threadbare rug. “Your Imperial Serenity,” he said.
“Oh, get up, man, and stop babbling!” Setheris said. “We understood that you had messages from the Archduke’s father.”
“Then you understand what we do not,” the messenger said, rising again to his feet, as graceful as a cat. “We bear messages from the Untheileneise Court.”
Maia said hastily, merely to prevent the altercation from escalating, “Please, explain.”
“Your Serenity,” the messenger said. “The airship Wisdom of Choharo crashed yesterday, sometime between sunrise and noon. The Emperor Varenechibel the Fourth, the Prince Nemolis, the Archduke Nazhira, and the Archduke Ciris were all on board. They were returning from the wedding of the Prince of Thu-Athamar.”
“And the Wisdom of Choharo crashed,” Maia said slowly, carefully.
“Yes, Serenity,” said the messenger. “There were no survivors.”
For five pounding heartbeats, the words made no sense. Nothing made sense; nothing had made sense since he had woken with Setheris’s grip hurting his shoulder. And then it was suddenly, pitilessly clear. As if from a very long distance away, he heard his own voice saying, “What caused the crash?”
“Does it matter?” Setheris said.
“Serenity,” said the messenger with a deliberate nod in Maia’s direction. “They do not yet know. But the Lord Chancellor has sent Witnesses, and it is being investigated.”
“Thank you,” said Maia. He knew neither what he felt nor what he ought to feel, but he knew what he ought to do, the next necessary thing. “You said … there are messages?”
“Yes, Serenity.” The messenger turned and picked up his dispatch case from where it lay on the side table. There was only one letter within, which the messenger held out. Setheris snatched the letter and broke the seal savagely, as if he still believed the messenger to be lying.
He scanned the paper, his customary frown deepening into a black scowl, then flung it at Maia and stalked from the room. Maia grabbed at it ineffectually as it fluttered to the floor.
The messenger knelt to retrieve it before Maia could and handed it to him without a flicker of expression.
Maia felt his face heating, his ears lowering, but he knew better than to try to explain or apologize for Setheris. He bent his attention to the letter. It was from his father’s Lord Chancellor, Uleris Chavar:
To the Archduke Maia Drazhar, heir to the imperial throne of Ethuveraz, greetings in this hour of greatest grief.
Knowing that Your Imperial Serenity will want all honor and respect paid to your late father and brothers, we have ordered arrangements put in train for a full ceremonial funeral in three days’ time, that is, on the twenty-third instant. We will notify the five principalities, also Your Imperial Serenity’s sister in Ashedro. We have already ordered the courier office to put airships at their disposal, and we have no doubt that they will use all necessary haste to reach the Untheileneise Court in good time for the funeral.
We do not, of course, know what Your Imperial Serenity’s plans may be, but we hold ourself ready to implement them.
With true sorrow and unswerving loyalty,
Maia looked up. The messenger was watching him, as impassive as ever; only the angle of his ears betrayed his interest.
“I … we must speak with our cousin,” he said, the constructions of the formal first person awkward and unaccustomed. “Do you … that is, you must be tired. Let us summon a manservant to tend to your needs.”
“Your Serenity is very kind,” the messenger said, and if he knew that there were only two menservants in the entire household of Edonomee, he gave no sign.
Maia rang the bell, knowing that birdlike Pelchara would be waiting eagerly for a chance to find out what was happening. Haru, who did all the outside work, was probably still asleep; Haru slept like the dead, and the whole household knew it.
Pelchara popped in, his ears up and his eyes bright and inquisitive. “This gentleman,” Maia said, mortified to realize that he did not know the messenger’s name, “has traveled hard. Please see that he has everything he requires.” He faltered before the thought of explaining the news to Pelchara, mumbled, “I will be with my cousin,” and hurried out.
He could see light under Setheris’s door, and could hear his cousin’s brisk, bristling stride.Let him not have stopped for the metheglin decanter, Maia thought, a brief, hopeless prayer, and tapped on the door.
“Who is’t?” At least he did not sound any drunker than he had a quarter hour ago.
“Maia. May I—?”
The door opened with savage abruptness, and Setheris stood in the opening, glaring. “Well? What chews onthy tail, boy?”
“Cousin,” Maia said, almost whispering, “what must I do?”
“What must thou do?” Setheris snorted laughter. “Thou must be emperor, boy. Must rule all the Elflands and banish thy kindred as thou seest fit. Why com’st thou whining to me of what thou must do?”
“Because I don’t know.”
“Moon-witted hobgoblin,” Setheris said, but it was contempt by reflex; his expression was abstracted.
“Yes, cousin,” Maia said meekly.
After a moment, Setheris’s eyes sharpened again, but this time without the burning anger. “Thou wish’st advice?”
“Come in,” Setheris said, and Maia entered his cousin’s bedchamber for the first time.
It was as austere as Setheris himself—no mementoes of the Untheileneise Court, no luxuries. Setheris waved Maia to the only chair and himself sat on the bed. “Thou’rt right, boy. The wolves are waiting to devour thee. Hast thou the letter?”
“Yes, cousin.” Maia handed Setheris the letter, now rather crumpled and the worse for wear. Setheris read it, frowning again, but this time his ears were cocked thoughtfully. When he had finished, he folded the letter neatly, his long white fingers smoothing the creases. “He presumes much, does Uleris.”
“He does?” And then, realizing: “Dost know him?”
“We were enemies for many years,” Setheris said, shrugging it aside. “And I see he has not changed.”
“What mean’st thou?”
“Uleris has no reason to love thee, boy.”
“He says he’s loyal.”
“Yes. But loyal to what? Not to thee, for thou art merely the last and least favored child of his dead master, who wished thee not on the throne, as well thou know’st. Use thy wits, boy—an thou hast any.”
“What do you mean?”
“Merciful goddesses, grant me patience,” Setheris said ostentatiously to the ceiling. “Consider, boy. Thou artemperor. What must thou do first?”
“Cousin, this is not the time for riddles.”
“And it is not a riddle I pose thee.” Setheris shut his mouth and glared at him, and after a moment, Maia realized.
“Ha!” Setheris brought his hands together sharply, making Maia jump. “Exactly. So why, I ask thee, does thy coronation not figure largely in Uleris’s plans or, indeed, at all?”
“No! Thou think’st as a child, not as an emperor. The dead are dead, and they care not for the honor Uleris prates of, as wellhe knows. It is the living power that must concern thee, as it concerns him.”
“Think, boy,” Setheris said, leaning forward, his cold eyes alight with fervor. “If thou art capable—if thou hast ever thought before in thy life—think. Thou com’st to the Untheileneise Court, the funeral is held. What then?”
“I speak to … oh.”
“Yes.” Better than Setheris might care to realize, for it was at his cousin’s hands that Maia had learned this particular lesson; by waiting, he put himself in the position of a supplicant to Chavar, and supplicants could always be denied. “Then what must I do?”
Setheris said, “Thou must countermand Uleris. Meaning that thou must reach the Untheileneise Court before he has time to entrench himself.”
“But how can I?” It took most of a week to reach the court from Edonomee.
“Airship,” Setheris said as if it were obvious.
Maia’s stomach knotted. “I couldn’t.”
“Thou must. Or thou shalt be a puppet dancing at the end of Uleris’s strings, and to a tune of his choosing. And thy nineteenth birthday may very well see thee dead.”
Maia bowed his head. “Yes, cousin.”
“The airship that brought Chavar’s lapdog here can take us back. They’ll be waiting for him. Now, go. Make thyself fit to be seen.”
“Yes, cousin,” Maia said, and did not contest Setheris’s assumption that he would be traveling to the court with the new emperor.
Copyright © 2014 by Katherine Addison
- ASIN : B07NDX96R8
- Publisher : Solaris (21 March 2019)
- Language : English
- File size : 875 KB
- Simultaneous device usage : Unlimited
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Not Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 449 pages
- Best Sellers Rank: #13,107 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
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Top reviews from India
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I read the book a quarter way through as an ebook and loved it, so I decided to order it in physical.
Seller was Cloudtail India and even through there was bit of a tear in the back cover I put a tape on and decided to keep the book.
By Amazon Customer on 15 December 2021
I read the book a quarter way through as an ebook and loved it, so I decided to order it in physical.
Seller was Cloudtail India and even through there was bit of a tear in the back cover I put a tape on and decided to keep the book.
Maia is the forgotten half goblin son of the emperor, who is so far back in line to the throne that absolutely no one expects him to sit on that very same throne. But an unexpected tragedy involving an aircraft carrying the emperor and all his sons sees Maia becoming the emperor and nobody is particularly happy about it.
Forced into exile and made to grow up with a cruel guardian for his ‘inferior’ ancestry, Maia could absolutely have misused the supreme power he suddenly gains. It would have been very easy to make everyone pay for their cruelty but every single time, he tries and tries the hardest to do the right thing and that was just, such a beautiful, heartbreaking as well as heartwarming thing to experience through the lush writing of Katherine Addison. It reminded me of this quote by Toni Morrison which says ‘I just think goodness is more interesting. Evil is constant. You can think of different ways to murder people, but you can do that at age five. But you have to be an adult to consciously, deliberately be good – and that's complicated.’
But it’s not just Maia that would keep you hooked to this book. There is plenty of court and political intrigues to keep you entertained till the end as well as plenty of equally adorable side characters to root for.
This book also managed to splendidly incorporate every single trope I adore (found family, underdog, coming of age) and I was left with all the warm fuzzy feels I crave in my books and more.
If cinnamon roll characters , found family and underdog tropes mixed with some political intrigue are your jam, then please please pleaseeeeee pick up this precious precious book and thank me later.
That is not to say that the book doesn't stand alone. It does. It spans the first few turbulent months of the reign of the eponymous Goblin Emperor, Maia. His accession to the throne was unexpected. He was the fourth, unwanted, half elven son, conceived of a failed political marriage to a Goblin princess. He was relegated to the backwaters, brought up by a harsh, vindictive guardian after the early death of his mother, and given none of the tools to navigate the world of the Emperor's court that even the children of the poorest nobility had.
His sudden rise to power at the death of his father and his brothers in an apparent accident thrust him into a world of politics, intrigue and deception.
Maia got lucky in the people around him. He had to gain their loyalty and their love but by the end of the book he does. He was told that he couldn't have friends as the emperor. He couldn't even have a moment's privacy. So the two main arcs running parallel through the book are the empire's acceptance of the Emperor and the Emperor's search for inner peace and friendship in a life where he had been told he could have neither.
The latter, because it was important for the emperor to be partial and not show favour or seem to be unduly influenced by his affection for anyone. And the former - the inner peace - because his mother's influence had bred spirituality in him and within the judgemental limits of a secular court life, he couldn't indulge in 'mysticisms' like meditations without seeming strange and barbaric.
It was compelling to read about a character who was so good at the job he was unprepared for but also slowly losing his peace of mind and spirit in service of the same.
I loved Eugenides from Queen's Thief, as he struggled through something similar as a young and unwilling King. But Gen had the option of coming to terms with his new life at his own pace, while Maia had to swim or drown.
And here I suppose I've found my favourite trope.
Those who have read the Eragon series (Inheritance Cycle), you might recall what the Dwarven customs and politics were like. Well the atmosphere is similar, though the setting is Elven and the Emperor's city and the politics therein is far more complex than Paolini's tomes could achieve.
But even so the court politics in fantasy fiction is the best part for me. It's like a battle of wits for the protagonist.
Maia was especially fortunate in his advisors, because what he lacked most was knowledge and being abled to make informed decisions is what helped him avoid becoming anyone's puppet. That and having the wisdom to ask for help when he needed it.
Maia is just eighteen and though there are times when he seems so much older, you never quite forget that he's a boy. His inner monologue is disarmingly diffident. He can be sulky and ill tempered and cold, but he always knows when he wronged someone and he doesn't hesitate to apologize no matter who he wronged.
Also philology, man. Either Addison really loves making up words (which she must because she took such care to be consistent) or she just likes to make her readers work hard. I was so glad for the word search option on my Kindle! I kept looking back through the book when I came across a character who I last read about several chapters ago (and sometimes just a few pages ago). I recalled the person and the incident perfectly (none of it was redundant) but I just couldn't connect it to the right names. They sounded so similar.
At one point, Maia had exactly the same reaction. He stared at his secretary in panic, because he couldn't recall exactly who the person mentioned was! And that person was dying!
It was hilarious. Also sad, but mostly hilarious.
It was also the same experience that I have when I'm reading about people from a foreign country. There are a lot of people introduced, and because of the unfamiliarity of names I have to go back after a while to be sure I'm not confusing homonymous names. =)
So if Addison's intention was to make us empathize with her hero, she succeeded. And I loved her book all the more for it. =D
But as I said in the beginning. This book has all the hallmarks of being the first of an epic series. We've dealt with problems in his court and within the borders of his realm. We had the slightest hint of trouble outside. A decades old war with the tribal 'barbarians' who refused to give their fealty to the elven throne. Maia seemed to want to end it but faced too much opposition when he first brought it up. That's a teaser if there ever was one! A tangling thread that I desperate want her to stitch up with a sequel!
It was like this book was a test. It could stand on its own so if the readers didn't react positively, then she would write no more. I'm thinking the Goblin Emperor did pretty well, Ms Addison. Now please may we have the next one?
Top reviews from other countries
Maia’s goblin mother is the emperor’s fourth wife and he’s the result of a political, one-time consummation and loveless marriage. At the age of ten, his mother dies and Maia is sent to live with his cousin, Setheris, a former adviser whose arrogance gets him banished from court. No love is lost between the cousins. While the bitter Setheris provides Maia with some tutoring, he’s mostly physically and emotionally abusive towards the boy.
So, is it a damaged young man who takes the throne? No. Maia’s mother provided him with a strong moral compass. And Setheris’s behaviour has left Maia empathetic towards the oppressed. As he learns about the father he'd met just once at his mother’s funeral, Maia choses not to emulate his predecessor. It’s watching how Maia adjusts to rulership while learning as much about himself as those he rules that makes The Goblin Emperor such a riveting read.
Be warned, because there’s hardly any action in this book, and the worldbuilding is limited to the palace. I found a glossary at the front of my e-book, which most readers will find invaluable because of the Elven language used for names, titles and places. Unable to flick back and forth through electronic pages, glossaries and e-books just don’t work for me. I found myself resorting to memorising the shape of an unpronounceable word to recognise which character or location I was reading about. This did spoil the reading experience a little.
The story’s plot is three pronged: who can Maia trust; how should he assert his authority and what really happened to his father and half-brothers? The solution to the third subplot is convoluted but clever.
I enjoyed The Goblin Emperor. What this book lacks in action is made up for by its great protagonist who held my interest from beginning to end.
+ It is a stand-alone story, not an overly long trilogy
+ Detailed world building
+ Intricate politics which are well thought out
+ Nice to have a book not 100% action based
Things I disliked:
- The ending felt a bit painted by numbers with far too many epilogues
- The goblin emperor is a bit Mary-Sue full of common decency and naturally competent but also a bit dull
- Personal preference - but for me lacked humour, but I am also a very fussy fantasy reader
The one drawback to reading is the amount and complexity of names which are multi-syllabic and hard to pronounce. There are changes according to rank and gender and sometimes you don't realise that the person being referred to is actually someone you already met but is now being referred to by a title. I confess I skipped over most of them, recognising them but not pronouncing them in my head as I went. Alcethmeret, Hezhetthoreisei, Untheileneise Court, nohecharei, Osmerrem Berenaran, Berenadeise, Untheileneise'meire – and that's just a very small sample. Before the story starts there is a glossary which takes up page after page, which is useless on a kindle because you can't keep flicking back to it, and indeed, if you did, it would only pull you out of the story. The glossary contains close to 400 proper names. Ouch. This is a four star story with one star deducted for the complicated names.
If you are looking for something to draw your attention from the mundane, ...one of those books that definitely chases time away, ...I recommend this one.
I am hoping for more from the author, anticipating that this writer will become more confident and hold nothing back in the next one.
The only reason I don't give this 5 stars is because the appendix explaining honorifics, pronunciations, etc. was at the BACK of the book- it would have been so much better to have it at the front before starting the story proper. As it was, I did find myself distracted at times from the tale trying to work this out. A minor gripe, though - I would still recommend this as an excellent read.