Book review · novel

The Goblin Emperor, by Katherine Addison

“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 older sons in line for the throne are killed in an “accident,” he has no choice but to take his place on the Untheileneise Throne.” (from macmillan)

The Goblin Emperor is a gem of a novel. Though I had to fight to start loving it: years ago, I put it down when I was barely a few hundred pages in, because I felt lost with the long complicated names and the politics of the Court.
Now, I got back into it, determined to stick with the main character up until the end of it. I was determined to put so much effort into it because this novel has something I love: a protagonist that is nice, generous, empathic. It’s a bit rare to find such protagonists, ones who will care to not hurt people’s feelings, who will try to do the right thing, who will also try to be forgiving towards those who wronged him (reminded me of Julius from the Heartstrikers series.) While I understand people describing The Goblin Emperor either as a fluffy, cute or wholesome novel, it’s also a hard read sometimes. Maia, the main character, suffers abuse from the person in charge of him and neglect from one of his parent. He also step foot in a world of betrayal and manipulation, of hard choices and decisions he was not educated to deal with. If it was painful at times to read about his path, but the secondary characters warming up to him like the reader does definitely helps.

There is a murder mystery but it is being investigated on the background, the novel being only about Maia, his way to react to his new situation and his relationship to the Court, his family and his government. I loved how it handled issues of gender equality, classicism, racism, etc.


Content warning: death of parents, grief, physical and mental abuse, torture, homophobic world, arranged marriage, implied marital rape

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