Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Goblin Emperor” as Want to Read:
The Goblin Emperor
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Goblin Emperor

4.04  ·  Rating details ·  16,982 Ratings  ·  2,976 Reviews
A vividly imagined fantasy of court intrigue and dark magics in a steampunk-inflected world, by a brilliant young talent.

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 sons in line for the throne are killed in an "accident," he has no ch
Hardcover, 446 pages
Published April 1st 2014 by Tor Books
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Goblin Emperor, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Johan Thilander Oh, I felt it was such a relief to have a stand-alone fantasy novel. It's such a rare thing, and I love it.
Mighty I plan on giving it to my 11 year old, she would love it. I will admit that her reading level is beyond the 12th grade, which is why it is so hard to…moreI plan on giving it to my 11 year old, she would love it. I will admit that her reading level is beyond the 12th grade, which is why it is so hard to find good adult level fantasy novels that are appropriate enough for the lower maturity level. This is one that I find will work with her maturity level.(less)

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
Rating details
Sort: Default
We thoroughly enjoyed this book, but we have been unable to stop thinking in the majestic plural for many hours after reading many passages of dialogue written as such. We fear that our adoption of this narrative strategy will result in some confusion amongst our peers and are attempting to restrict it to our thoughts and not our spoken words. We could not avoid writing a brief and enthusiastic recommendation for this most absorbing high fantasy novel; however, we will bide our time until this s ...more
Mar 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy
If you ask me, no-one is going to rain on this parade – simply because there is no rain on the books here.
No matter how much I often enjoy a dark and epic fantasy book, having one that is completely different in tone is refreshing. It’s a fantasy novel told from the perspective of one humble and utterly likeable young man – somewhat back to the fantasy novel style of the ’80s. Throughout the book, I honestly couldn’t shake the feeling that in another life Maia might have been raised in Aunt Pol
Alex Ristea
The Goblin Emperor started out incredibly promising. This look into the reluctant life of a coddled emperor directly opposes the wave of Grimdark we've seen in Fantasy lately (of which I'll admit I'm a big fan). Here we have a protagonist who is...dare I say it, is kind.

That instantly grabbed me in the opening pages. Katherine Addison is currently one of the brightest voices writing in the genre. Is the pendulum of grittiness swinging back to the fantasy stories of the 80s?

Honestly, I was expect
Lois Bujold
May 16, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: readers who like court intrigue fantasy
Recommended to Lois by: accumulated internet reviews; plus, cool cover

Well, that was riveting.

The exiled half-blood son of an emperor's discarded fourth wife suddenly and unexpectedly inherits the throne after a terrible airship accident, and must scramble to find his feet in a Byzantine several-thousand-year-old elvish court. I adore the fact that this isn't a war story at all, for a wonderful, wonderful change, though it does have a nice murder mystery going on in the background at times.

It reminded me a lot of The King of Attolia, a favorite, with a bit of Gorm
Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
The Goblin Emperor is an unusual fantasy, but I really enjoyed it. Maia is the rejected and unloved 18 year old half-goblin son of the fourth wife of the emperor of the elves (I know his name sounds like a girl's name, and this description is starting to get complicated already, but stick with me here). Maia has been living in exile and isolation for years, but unexpectedly becomes the emperor when his father and three older half-brothers die in an accident(view spoiler) ...more
Sherwood Smith
Apr 01, 2014 added it
Shelves: fantasy
It is said that Samuel Richardson, after being hectored by readers and critics following the runaway success of his novel Clarissa (a success, one gathers from reading period chatter, due in large part to his witty villain Lovelace before his inevitable and lugubrious end), promised he would write about a good man.

So he gave the world Sir Charles Grandison, who was so firmly aware enough of his perfection that he converses lengthily to all and sundry between the busyness of kidnappings, abductio
Dec 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy, favourites
When I finished The Goblin Emperor, I was sad there wasn’t more of it. Is there higher praise?

The things other people have critiqued do make sense: the fact that is very much character-driven rather than plot driven; the plethora of names and titles to get used to; the language stuff which may superficially appear just gimmicky and faux-archaic; the fact that Maia is often reacting rather than being proactive. Me, though, I loved it, for all of those things and more. For example, the thee/thou s
First Second Books
You know how sometimes (frequently) when you read lost heir stories, the lost heir is a peasant who can’t read and doesn’t even know who the current king is, much less understands how a constitutional monarchy works? And then two weeks later, he’s been crowned king! And the only problem is a mustache-twirling usurper (or else, war! – but that’s always pretty easy to deal with) who can easily be handled by just killing him or throwing him in a dungeon.

This is not that book.

In The Goblin Emperor,

This is one of those rare books, which I wanted to start re-reading right away after I finished.

The novel is a combination of political intrigue, coming of age and whodunnit with a positive outlook/outcome, where the majority of characters stays alive instead of dying cruel, overdramatic or unnecessary deaths.

Titanic wars & armageddon do not feature in the book either, so if you prefer dark, grim, action- and war-packed fantasy books where the world is hopelessly doomed, then you most proba
Mogsy (MMOGC)
Aug 11, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: review-copy, fantasy
4 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum

On a trip to China a few years ago, I got to visit the Forbidden City in Beijing. Surrounded by such a display of magnificent splendor and so much opulence, I wouldn't be surprised if the whole tour group was thinking the same thing: how wonderful it must have been to be emperor, to be the son of heaven and have your word be law, all the luxury in the world at your fingertips and an army servants to cater to your every whi
Not quite 5 stars, but I'm rounding up for the deftness of the writing.

This isn't fantasy in the traditional sense. It's fantasy in the Guy Gavriel Kay sense, or what I come to think of as "very little magic" high fantasy, and I find myself preferring this kind of fantasy over the elaborate magic-system-based fantasies because there's more focus on the characters, their individual stories, and the histories and current events of these made-up worlds, rather than a detailed or complex magical sys
Apr 04, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
This was an enjoyable read. The story was engaging despite not being all that exciting. This was a character driven fantasy that mainly focused on court intrigue.

Maia, who is half goblin, has spent his entire life living in an isolated country estate. First being looked after by his mother and then his banished cousin after his mother died. As the outcast fourth son he was largely ignored and forgotten by the court and his cruel neglectful father. An accident on an airship changes all this as t
Apr 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing
That goblin was just the sweetest child emperor I've ever known. He was always courteous and polite, even when he was abducted. He was so centered and contained even during that that time he almost took the knife of that assassin. Do you remember his name? Yeah. That windbag elf. Well, I don't care what any of his peers say about this dear child. He's looking forward to the future, I tell you! He even says goodbye to the cleaning staff of his late mother, bless his soul.

This novel, in case you h
Apr 01, 2014 rated it really liked it
This is a charming tale of an unprepared young man, launched into a world that would be daunting even if he had been trained for it. Exiled by his father, abused by his guardian, disregarded and despised by everyone but his mother, Maia must find his way in a court that is complicated, unforgiving, and hostile.

I appreciated some of the real world concerns that found their way into this work of fantasy: the issue of skin colour, the status of women, the ways that people treat one another as “less
Executive Summary: The second half of this book is far superior to the first half making for a rather enjoyable read for me in the end. It won't be for everyone though.

Full Review
I must say I'm surprised to be giving this such a high rating. And not a 3.5 rounded up, but a solid 4. At the start of the book this was more like the 2.5 area.

The writing is fine. The world building, though sparse was decent. And I liked Maia from the start. With the reading funk I was in, this seemed like a good op
Nov 03, 2014 rated it it was ok
Despite the generally great ratings & reviews of this book, and its recent Nebula nomination, this book did not bring ‘it’ in many categories.

The good: Maia, the new emperor, is a great character. Despite his lack of confidence, he performs admirably in his new job with the help of his secretary, Csevet.

The not-so-good: The world. I’ve seen in some places this book be called a ‘fantasy of manners’. I suppose there are readers who would be interested in this kind of thing but it’s definitely
Dec 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-ebooks
5 heartfelt stars. This novel is one of those rare gems that are probably even more valuable over time and it’s all wrapped up in a neat, standalone package.

The beginning is very powerful: at I first struggled a bit to fall into step because everything is not laid out cut and dried before the reader and there are lots of nuances to catch and names to remember, but soon I was utterly and helplessly drawn into Maia's reality.
It’s a testament to the author’s skill that she achieved such delicate b
Aug 27, 2014 rated it really liked it
Enchanting, delightful and totally unexpected. I was charmed and intrigued from the get go. Elegantly written and almost effortless to read this book reminded me of why I fell in love with fantasy all those years ago.
Sherwood Smith
I read this novel in draft a year ago. I just checked to see when it would be published--April. So I will have more to say when I get the actual book.

But it is on my buy-at-once list: since it's not out there is little to say that isn't spoilery. but put it this way. I was struggling with some devastating family news, and this novel is about the only thing I read during the month of January 13 that took me out of grief, and absorbed me completely. I loved it.

More in a few months.


It is said
Mar 15, 2014 rated it really liked it
Fantasy Review Barn

I finished The Goblin Emperor and found myself smiling. Not just from the joy of reading a really good book, but because for the first time in a long time I read a fantasy novel with a hopeful tone. Obviously the current trend of the genre is quite the opposite of hopeful, and those that break out of the dark tone tend to end with everything wrapped up in a package and happily ever after. But to end just on a hopeful tone? Well, that just causes smiles.

The blurb really tells y
Hazal Çamur
Apr 08, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Kitabı ilk olarak Locus, Hugo ve Nebula adaylıklarında görmüş, oldukça merak etmiştim. Açıkçası çevrilmesi için büyük merakla bekledim. Biraz daha çevrilmeseydi orijinal dilinden okuyacaktım :)

Goblin Kral, tam da beklediğim gibi bir kitap çıktı. Fantastik yanı az, politik oyunları çok, masalsı ve naif. Kitabın tek cümlelik özeti tam olarak bu.

Maia, yarı elf - yarı goblin bir kral. Tamamen siyasi bir evliliğin sonucu. Onu seven sürgün bir anne ve yüzüne bile bakmayan elf imparatoru baba. Sürgünde
Jenny (Reading Envy)
I probably would not have read this book if it hadn't been selected for the Sword and Laser book club for March 2015, and in the same month get announced as one of the Nebula nominees.

It's not my normal fare, in other words. It was described to me as a steampunk-fantasy court drama novel, but I would characterize it more as a coming of age, fish out of water, court drama novel. The steampunk is far in the background and as much as I don't geek out about those kinds of details, I think more of t
Mar 01, 2014 rated it really liked it
3.5/5 stars

WARNING: This review is pretty long (and also quite boring). I didn’t write a novel on purpose, there were just so many aspects I felt like I needed to mention. OKAY!

"After a time, he felt a deeper rhythm, the rhythm of the stone and water, not the rhythm of his words and heartbeat. He breathed into this deeper rhythm, let it teach him a new mantra, a wordless mantra that waxed and waned, ebbed and flowed, moon and stars and clouds, river and sun, the wordless singing of the earth ben
Feb 04, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Flawed but Likeable Coming-of-Age Fantasy Tale

I have mixed feelings about this novel.

I could have done with less of the unpronounceable and unspellable names and places (Edrahasivar, Varenechibel, the Untheileneise, etc.); elaborate rituals, and endless descriptions of dress and costume , as in the following passage:

"Maia suffered himself to be adorned. Rings for his fingers, silver set with jade and moonstones, bracelets like manacles, silver set with dull cabochon emeralds; a series of rings f
Mayim de Vries
Mar 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
We, Mayim de Vries, first of this name, have a confession to make. For a long time we have needlessly hesitated before reading the Goblin Emperor feeding on our superstitions. Mainly, do to the fact that when we hear “goblin” we see either this:


or this:


While the phrase “goblin king” brings only this picture in our imperial mind:


We apologise. We behaved ungraciously and based on ill premises, which we should not have inflicted on this fine book. We should have not disparaged its quality based o
Apr 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing
THE GOBLIN EMPEROR grabbed me tight and didn't let me go until it finished. Not an easy feat for a book with approximately one half of an action scene in over four hundred pages. That doesn't mean the scope of the book is small - the health of an entire empire is on the line, as civil war and external war both loom on the horizon.

Maia was the youngest and least favored son of the emperor. He's half goblin and not exactly attractive by court standards, to top it off. When his father and brothers
Ben Babcock
Nearly two years ago, I read a book by Sarah Monette called Mélusine, and I hated it. I considered it a train wreck of a novel. I wasn’t looking to read anything more by Monette in a long time. Now she’s back under the pen name of Katherine Addison (apparently for career reasons, which is a little silly, but I can also understand why). And not only am I giving The Goblin Emperor four stars, but I consider it every bit worth the Hugo nomination it has received, and I will not be disappointed if i ...more
Oct 19, 2015 rated it liked it
So I have finally finished up all of the BooktubeSFF Awards now (yay!) and this was the last one I had to read. I am giving this a 3.5* rating because I found it a very likeable read, but honestly, that's all it was for me. The story follows the character of Maia as he (being half Goblin, half Elf) comes to power and takes the throne of the Emperor after the death of most of his (estranged) family in an airship crash.

The story itself is very much a political drama story which concerns itself wi
Althea Ann
Feb 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing
A perfect court intrigue.

Maia never expected to become much of anyone. Although he’s technically a prince, after his mother died his father the emperor relegated him to exile at a remote manor, under the care of an abusive guardian. He never really expected to escape his position of disfavor, due to his mixed racial heritage. However, when a terrible airship accident not only kills his father, but also wipes out all the other people ahead of him in line for the succession, in one fell blow, Maia
Jul 03, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
This book was a really enjoyable read and will probably be getting my vote for the Hugo this year. The scale is pretty small, the pacing is fairly slow, and there are a lot of aristocratic family names, but this book is genuinely delightful and I found myself sort of sad when it came to an end.

It's a pretty simple story: Maia is the fourth son of an emperor, cast out of court life to live in a remote country estate due to his mother's fall from favor (Maia's mother was a goblin, married to the
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
  • A Stranger in Olondria
  • The Traitor Baru Cormorant (The Masquerade, #1)
  • Updraft (Bone Universe, #1)
  • Penric's Demon (Penric and Desdemona, #1)
  • Three Parts Dead (Craft Sequence, #1)
  • Shattered Pillars (Eternal Sky, #2)
  • Sorcerer to the Crown (Sorcerer Royal, #1)
  • City of Stairs (The Divine Cities, #1)
  • The Sorcerer of the Wildeeps (The Sorcerer of the Wildeeps, #1)
  • The Killing Moon (Dreamblood, #1)
  • The Death of the Necromancer (Ile-Rien, #2)
  • The Mirror Empire (Worldbreaker Saga, #1)
  • The Habitation of the Blessed (A Dirge for Prester John, #1)
  • Corambis (Doctrine of Labyrinths, #4)
  • Sword & Laser Anthology
A pseudonym of Sarah Monette. Both Sarah and Katherine are on Twitter as @pennyvixen. Katherine reviews nonfiction. Sarah reviews fiction. Fair warning: I read very little fiction these days.

Sarah/Katherine was born and raised in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, one of the three secret cities of the Manhattan Project.

She got her B.A. from Case Western Reserve University, her M.A. and Ph.D. from the Universi
More about Katherine Addison

Fantasy & Science Fiction Deals

  • Son of the Dawn (Ghosts of the Shadow Market #1)
    $2.99 $1.49
  • Sanctuary (Nomad, #2)
    $4.99 $2.49
  • Genome (The Extinction Files #2)
    $5.99 $2.49
  • The Jewel (The Lone City, #1)
    $7.99 $1.99
  • Mechanica (Mechanica, #1)
    $8.99 $1.99
  • Wired (Wired, #1)
    $6.99 $2.99
  • Bandwidth (An Analog Novel Book 1)
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Sufficiently Advanced Magic (Arcane Ascension, #1)
    $3.99 $1.49
  • Three Dark Crowns (Three Dark Crowns, #1)
    $9.99 $1.99
  • The Bees
    $12.99 $1.99
  • The Land: Founding (Chaos Seeds, #1)
    $2.99 $1.49
  • The Mists of Avalon (Avalon, #1)
    $12.99 $2.99
  • Fool's Assassin (The Fitz and The Fool Trilogy, #1)
    $7.99 $1.99
  • Gone (Gone, #1)
    $3.99 $1.99
  • Friday
    $6.99 $2.99
  • Dhalgren
    $17.99 $1.99
  • Conjure (Hoodoo Apprentice)
    $5.99 $0.00
  • Moon Chosen (Tales of a New World #1)
    $8.51 $2.99
  • Homeworld (Odyssey One, #3)
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Recurve (The Elemental Series, #1)
    $3.99 $1.99
  • Deviants (Dust Chronicles #1)
    $4.49 $0.99
  • Before She Ignites (Fallen Isles, #1)
    $6.49 $1.99
  • Cinder (The Lunar Chronicles, #1)
    $7.09 $2.99
  • The Kill Society (Sandman Slim, #9)
    $9.99 $2.99
  • Out of the Black (Odyssey One, #4)
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Acacia: The War with the Mein (Acacia, #1)
    $7.99 $2.99
  • The Menagerie
    $3.99 $1.99
  • The Infinite (Gates of Thread and Stone #2)
    $3.99 $0.99
  • Eighth Grave After Dark (Charley Davidson, #8)
    $8.99 $2.99
“ 'In our inmost and secret heart, which you ask us to bare to you, we wish to banish them as we were banished, to a cold and lonely house, in the charge of a man who hated us. And we wish them trapped there as we were trapped.'

'You consider that unjust, Serenity?'

'We consider it cruel,' Maia said. 'And we do not think that cruelty is ever just.' ”
“He remembered the moment when his thoughts had inverted themselves—that shift from not being able to please everyone to not trying—and the way that change had enabled him to see past the maneuverings and histrionics of the representatives to the deeper structures of the problem; it was the same with the Corazhas.” 17 likes
More quotes…