Posted March 31, 2014 by Jaclyn Tan in Books

NOVEL REVIEW: The Goblin Emperor

It’s not often you find a seamless blending of drama and fantasy without resorting to violence. Katherine Addison’s The Goblin Emperor brings a unique style to the fantasy genre; weaving a story that is less coming-of-age and more fish-out-of-water while adding in bits of romance and mystery.

The Goblin Emperor is about Maia – half-breed, unwanted son, and unneeded heir – who wakes up one morning to suddenly find himself the Emperor of all the Elflands. His father and three older brothers are dead in a suspicious crash and now he’s catapulted straight into the highest echelons of society. It doesn’t help at all that he’s half-elf and half-goblin, that he and his mother had been socially cast out by his father, or that his caretaker didn’t like him either. And now, alone and friendless, he has to figure out how to rule the kingdom in a court filled with hidden agendas and conflicting interests.

The Goblin Emperor is a beautiful book, effortlessly weaving dozens of political intrigues and a deadly threat hanging overhead with the growth of a lonely young man who only wants to do what he feels is right for the kingdom and not fall into his father’s shadow. He has been raised outside of the myriad political influences in everyday court and so is relatively unknown – a fact that has the nobility scrambling to get into the emperor’s favor before he wises up. The sheer number of characters and their motivations are each given their own time in the spotlight without making anyone a cliche. It is a challenge to handle so many characters without making them seem the same and Katherine Addison does that wonderfully.

However, the plot reads more like a literary drama and is definitely not for everyone. The four to five syllable names and near-unpronounceable terms can be very confusing. While the archaic wording of the dialogues do help establish the tone of the book and the formality of the court, not many people are patient enough to get past such. There aren’t any scenes of heart-pounding suspense so the plot may feel dragging at times but what the book does is subtly sneak into your heart and gently tug on your heartstrings.

As I have mentioned, The Goblin Emperor is not a book for everyone; epic fantasy readers may find it dragging, but for those who are patient enough to finish the book will find that this is a story to be savoured slowly for the sweetest reward.

Jaclyn Tan