Bradley's Reviews > The Goblin Emperor

The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison
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it was amazing
bookshelves: mystery, fantasy, steampunk, worldbuilding-sf, 2021-shelf
Read 2 times. Last read April 21, 2021 to April 24, 2021.

Re-read 4/24/21:

In preparing to read the sequel, I decided I just had to re-read the original. It's been a while and I remembered it being comforting and comfortable for all the potentially harrowing setup that it represented.

The re-read confirms it. It's subtle, careful, heartbreaking, and a good mystery, all wrapped up in a cloak of humility. Odd, that. And, of course, the exploration of racism is quite clear.

Quite enjoyable.


Original Review:

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 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 haven't guessed, is a delightful take on normal people raising an Emperor. It is NOT, however, a tale of war, oppression, or magic. There's plenty of intrigues, but mainly it's a coming of age with a very healthy dose of fish out of water syndrome. On a personal note, it was charming and well paced and very, very political. It had elements of stab you in the back, of course, but the focus was mainly on trying to do a good job in a situation where no one seems to trust you. Believe me, I was very charmed.

This delightful novel was part of this year's Hugo nominations, and in spite of the controversy, I'm reading each novel deeply and seriously because I respect and cherish the Hugos. Anyone nominated will carry prestige because we, the readers, want it to be so. The moment we start devaluing the award in our own minds is the moment we lose a little light in our life.

As for being a contender, this novel definitely is. If I read this outside of the controversy or the nomination, I would still be gibbering and drooling about it, because, after all, it turns our archetypal conventions over to cook more evenly.

The writing is clear, the story is suspenseful, and the mystery around his father's death and his own assassination attempt keep everything moving nicely. Most importantly, I felt real sympathy for our dear Emperor. If you think that the story is short on wonder or depth, think again. Everything is vividly imagined and deeply drawn, down to the airships or the clockwork bridge or the guard who sang our young Emperor to sleep.

This novel is a breath of fresh air with a huge heart, and that's saying a lot for a novel about a goblin.

Brad K Horner's blog
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Reading Progress

April 9, 2015 – Started Reading
April 9, 2015 – Shelved
April 9, 2015 – Shelved as: to-read
April 16, 2015 – Shelved as: mystery
April 16, 2015 – Shelved as: fantasy
April 16, 2015 – Shelved as: steampunk
April 16, 2015 – Shelved as: worldbuilding-sf
April 16, 2015 – Finished Reading
April 21, 2021 – Started Reading
April 24, 2021 – Shelved as: 2021-shelf
April 24, 2021 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-9 of 9 (9 new)

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message 1: by Meran (new) - added it

Meran Good god, this is a ~horrible book! Each lloooonnnggg name is a "stop and try to pronounce me" word making it a difficult read ... maybe if I'd listened to it being read to me it would have been better.. no, wait.. the names are far too similar to even know which coan/family the speaker would be referring to.
This book gets ONE star from me, along with a "regretful purchase" designator.
Heck, this new, never even trained for court Emperor refers to himself in third person in his ~~thoughts? That's just not going to be real.


Bradley I admit the reading is quite fun when it is audio. As is the subtelty. But, sorry you feel that way!


message 3: by Kristy (new)

Kristy It sounds good, except it’s young adult. I have a hard and fast rule that I never break, except for beloved authors (Robin McKinley for one), about avoiding YA like the plague.


Bradley I would sympathize with you, having lived by that same rule for years until I didn't, but this particular book was good regardless of reading level. It's a mystery, a political nightmare, and an underdog story that never FEELS like a YA. It really just feels like a good story.

Take that for what it is. :)


message 5: by Kristy (new)

Kristy That makes it sound more interesting. There are very few YA books that can do that (not feel YA or are so good it doesn't matter).
I did read the Harry Potter series, which skirted very carefully around certain situations (butterbeer definitely made you "drunk"). Plus, there were adult situations as the characters grew up, albeit mostly fantastic ones (though the death of some characters was quite shocking, maybe that's what made it feel less YA).
It took me forever to pick those books up until someone basically said, read them already! I also rather enjoyed the movies.
Anyway, point being, that's the only book(s) I can think of that are YA, but don't quite have the feel of them.


Bradley They are rare, indeed, unless you just want YA that's all about the sex and death, then there's PLENTY of that to go around, too.

But your point is real. GOOD books that are timeless, that appeal to any age, is rare.


Melindam This is such a delightful book. I reread it every year.


Bradley Now, THAT is high praise. :)


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