I realize that Magician is really one large book, but as I read it as two installments, that's how I'll review it. While Apprentice was a good introduI realize that Magician is really one large book, but as I read it as two installments, that's how I'll review it. While Apprentice was a good introduction to the world and featured a lot of atypical fantasy elements, Master accelerated the pace and changed the scenery in unexpected ways. Though I'm going to give both Magician books the same rating, I really did enjoy Master more and it may have been my favorite Riftwar book (unless we’re counting the amazing Daughter of the Empire, but that's a review for another time.)
One thing that's hard to get used to in this series is that it wastes no time getting from one event to another. I grew up on the Wheel of Time books where an army could spend 3-4 books on a march to its destination (that's not an exaggeration. I spent too many years of my young life wondering when Gareth Bryne’s army would reach Tar Valon.) In this, an attack is declared and mere paragraphs later the attackers are at their destination across the map. If you're into long travelogues and endless journeying, Riftwar may not be for you. This fast-forward mentality does have its drawbacks, however. Character development happens just as fast, leaving a lot of it in the dust. Pug becomes a more powerful magician than his former master Kulgan in just a chapter or two of training. Of course for him it was several years, but it's mere minutes for the reader. Likewise for Thomas. We hardly get any time with him in the first book as an awkward teenager before he turns into a godlike warrior after finding some magic armor. Both characters are definitely too powerful to really be sympathetic, but after learning that the Riftwar universe was converted from a pen and paper RPG campaign which the author ran with his friends, it makes sense.
Overly quick pacing and rather thin characters aside, this book is still a lot of fun. Some of the action takes place on Kelewan, the world on the other side of the rift, which to me is a more interesting setting with its pseudo-Japanese flair and very alien world. The action is plentiful, the story is fun and the characters are as lovable as they are ridiculous. I recommend this book for some light-hearted, chaotic fantasy fun of epic proportions....more
I read The Goblin Emperor because I’d seen at least a half-dozen other people on my friends list read it and I wanted to read what everyone else was rI read The Goblin Emperor because I’d seen at least a half-dozen other people on my friends list read it and I wanted to read what everyone else was reading. It also made a lot of top fantasy lists in 2014 so I figured there must be a reason to all the hype. When I look back on the book and try to think of specific reasons why I enjoyed it, I have a hard time narrowing down particular reasons other than, “it was just really good.” I mean as far as fantasy books go, it had little in the way of incident or action and yet it’s a very meticulously crafted, well-oiled machine that moved well from start to finish and I couldn’t help gobble it up.
The Goblin Emperor is about Maia, who is, you guessed it, the goblin emperor and the namesake of the story. Maia is one of the few characters with a name easy to remember and pronounce, so relish that because this book will bombard you with so many names of characters, family houses, dynasties and places that your head will explode keeping track of it all. Luckily there is an appendix at the back that will help you keep track of SOME of this, but not all of it.
Maia is from a human-less world, or so it seems as the only sentient races mentioned are elves and goblins. But forget those races as you’ve known them before. Imagine a fantasy world that has moved past the dark ages and into the industrial age, complete with zeppelins. I suppose you could categorize this as steampunk, but the overall feel of it is really just industrial age fantasy. There aren’t many other steampunk elements. In this world, the elves are ruled by an emperor, who at the start of the story, dies along with his heirs in a zeppelin crash. All of his heirs but one: Maia, the half elf, half goblin who was the only child spawned from the emperor’s marriage to a goblin princess. Maia, having lived in exile from the court and only visiting it a handful of times, is now thrown into the lion’s den, getting a crash course in court intrigue and politics.
And that’s the book. No, really. When it boils down to it, that’s more or less the entirety of The Goblin Emperor. But don’t let that fool you. For a book that is almost entirely bereft of action in the normal sense that fantasy contains action, I found it completely addicting and couldn’t stop turning pages. Despite the fact that the entire cast is comprised of elves and goblins, the story is filled with relatable, very human seeming characters. Maia is constantly in peril of those who want to see him off the throne both for his bloodline and his lack of knowledge. He’s always having to mold and adapt while also using his new found powers of state to change things that he sees as unfair or unjust, which of course causes him more problems in court.
The Goblin Emperor, I’ve come to realize how much I appreciate good writing and well developed characters more than I do violent action. Don’t get me wrong, the inner child in me still hungers for that action, but it’s no longer my favorite part of a story as it once was. The author imbues the story with a simple (aside from all the names) and elegant prose reminiscent of Daniel Abraham’s Long Price Quartet. As for whether or not I recommend the book, I’ll say this: if you’ve read A Song of Ice and Fire and could imagine the entirely of the series being condensed into one book revolving solely around the political court at King’s Landing AND the idea of that sounds like it would be fun to read, then The Goblin Emperor could well be for you. ...more