Title: The Goblin Emperor
Author: Katherine Addison
Genre: Court Intrigue Fantasy (possibly YA)
Rating: 4.5 of 5
This book pleasantly surprised me. The original cover and publicity blurb made me think it was some sort of cutesy YA fantasy clone, but a fellow book blogger’s rave review convinced me to give it a shot. There were a few of the usual YA tropes (teenage outsider whose parents are dead and who doesn’t want the role that has been thrust upon him), but it never descended into the obnoxious whining pity party and simplistic plotting/characterization that I think of as characteristically YA.
Maia, the unloved youngest half-goblin son of the elf emperor has been raised in obscurity far from court, but he is suddenly thrust onto the throne when the emperor and all of his other heirs die in a catastrophic accident. The rest of the book follows the challenges of growing into this role while navigating (potentially deadly) court intrigue.
In my experience, fantasy books that center on political maneuvering tend to be either cynical grimdark dystopias or trashy romance novels disguised as fantasy. This was neither as Maia brings kindness, warmth, and wisdom to the table. There’s plenty of awkwardness, self-doubt, and grief along the way, but this is the story of a refreshingly good-hearted young man.
If you are looking for high action, you’ll want to go elsewhere. If you need a break from angsty anti-hero fantasy this book is a breath of fresh air.