Thursday, July 16, 2015

The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison

Maia has been an outcast for his entire life.  One wouldn't think of an emperor's son as an outcast, but Maia's father is the elven Emperor, and he is half Goblin.  His father married his mother out of political strategy, and never loved her.  He sent her away and Maia only saw his father once in his lifetime.  That once, his father made it abundantly clear that he had no feelings for Maia.  Maia's mother died when he was eight and rather than bringing him back to court, the emperor left him at a remote court with only a traitorous cousin as his guardian.  His guardian was cruel and made it clear that he disliked Maia every day.

But now, something miraculous has happened.  The emperor and his three sons, all older than Maia, and before him in the line of succession, have been killed in an airship accident.  Maia, the ignored, the one who never expected anything, is the new emperor.  He doesn't want the job and is woefully unprepared.  He is barely old enough to be emperor, and his youth and ignorance of court procedures is glaringly obvious.  But the lines of succession are clear and before he knows it, he is installed on the throne, his every word law and his every moment guarded.

Maia treads carefully, learning about the land he now rules and its culture and procedures.  Yet his innate kindness shines through and he reaches out to those who have never had a voice; servants, his guards, women of the court who want something more than marriage and children.  Some are pleased with this new emperor's way of doing things, some are appalled.  Maia is in danger that someone will find a way to wrest the throne from him before he learns enough to safeguard it. 

Katherine Addison has created a wonderful character in Maia.  The reader can emphasize with his incredulity at his change in station, and warm to his attempts to reach out and connect with those he rules.  The plots against him are numerous, and watching him maneuver the pitfalls of loyalty and other's ambitions is compelling.  This book is recommended for fantasy readers.

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