The Goblin Emperor: Read-Along Week 1
Updated: May 11
As a part of Wyrd and Wonder, I am also participating in The Goblin Emperor read-along hosted by Lisa. For anyone interested in joining or following along, the discussion will be posted on a Goodreads group page and on twitter by @wyrdandwonder using the hashtags, #TheGoblin King and #wyrdandwonder. The schedule is super flexible for anyone interested in joining the fun! This first discussion is on chapters 1-9 and *does include spoilers* for anyone who has not read that far yet. Anyway, here is my first impression of The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison.
The first thing that struck me about this book is the formality in the way the characters speak. What do you think of this style? Do you enjoy it?
The formality definitely caught me off guard. All the new terms and phrases were hard to understand at first, but I did eventually get used to it. The formality has surprisingly been one of my favorite parts of the book. Maia is also thrown off by court politics and decorum, so you feel like you’re figuring it out with him. I liked how it brought me into the story and created a unique setting.
The reader, much like Maia in his newfound role, is given very little time to get comfortable before being thrown in at the deep end. How do you feel about this approach to the story? Does it help you to empathize with the newly ascended Emperor?
Ha, so I already answered this. Yes, I really loved being able to figure out the complex court dynamic with Maia. Every time I felt lost, Maia also felt overwhelmed with everything he had to keep track of as emperor.
Maia was a very relatable character. He missed details that I've definitely missed in my own life. It was interesting to see him struggle with small things like remembering to let his servants rest or dismissing them after their conversation was over. I could definitely tell Maia was awkward in his role, and that made me love him more.
Too many cooks spoil the political broth, or so it seems. Are there any characters in particular who stand out to you as being the most potentially troublesome? And on the other hand, who catches your attention as being unusually (potentially) helpful?
Oh my goodness, so many characters to keep track of! I ended up having to write them down as I went along; otherwise, I was completely lost. So far, my favorite character is Csevet. He’s been honest and helpful as Maia is figuring out his role. Honestly, Csevet is also the reason I have any idea of what is going on. Thank goodness he’s in the story or I would be lost.
Cala and Beshelar are the next two characters I think will be good allies. Cala just seems like a nice guy and isn’t afraid to step outside of protocol (at least compared to Beshelar). Beshelar was harsh at times, but in an honest “I’m going to do my job as best I can” sort of way. I respect him for that. I’m excited to see more character development for him and Cala in the future.
Although Maia hated Setheris, I have a soft spot for him. I doubt Setheris will every be a perfect character, but I think he will play an important role in the story. Plus, it's undeniable that Setheris is the reason Maia has done as well as he has at being emperor. Setheris may have been harsh, but that prepared Maia for the hatred and enemies he will encounter as emperor. I’m hoping he and Maia can reconcile their differences in the end.
Ok, I realize I answered this question backward, and here are the three characters that worry me the most: Csoru (the Widow Empress), Chavar (the Lord Chancellor), and the Ambassador Gormened/the Emperor of the Ethuveraz. I thought all of these characters could gain from assassinating the late emperor and manipulating or assassinating Maia. Plus, Csoru and Chavar have already tested Maia. They are both clearly power-hungry.
So the late emperor was killed deliberately, and now Chavar effectively has control of the investigation. I have to know: do you suspect him at all of being involved in the incident?
Yes and no. There is a lot of hinting at Chavar having a role in the late emperor’s death, but it’s a little too obvious. I’m going to go for a Dwight Schrute approach to this mystery and say the Emperor of the Ethiveraz ordered the assassination. He’s the person I “most medium suspect”. His ambassador sent a pretty shady letter, and I’m almost positive he was involved in Maia’s mother’s arranged marriage. Almost positive. Like I said, so many characters to keep track of. I am truly bewildered by the mystery.
What are your other thoughts/feelings/first impressions?
Overall, I am intrigued by this story. I’ve never read a story from the perspective of someone in power--at least one that went into so much detail. Most of the problems Maia faces are ones I would never have considered. I love that this story is giving me a new perspective on the world. I might hesitate to judge a fictional king next time a protagonist describes them as “cold” and “cunning”. Maia cares about the people around him, but even he must make hard decisions.
Maia as a narrator makes my heart happy. He's surrounded by people who despise him and burdened by responsibility he never asked for, but he's just doing his best. He goes out of his way to honor the lower class and breaks protocol to apologize when he makes a mistake. I love that he still has insecurities, but doesn't let them stop him. I hope Maia keeps his innocence and virtues throughout the story.