The Goblin Emperor: Read-Along Week 2
This is the second weekly discussion of The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison with Lisa. I’ve had a lot of fun reading this book and participating in the read-along for Wyrd and Wonder. The full discussion is on a Goodreads group page which can be found here. This week’s discussion is on chapters 10-17 and will include spoilers.
So many verbal encounters. So much political muck! Let's start with Princess Sheveän, who seemed so very outraged at the idea of the late emperor's body being 'desecrated'. Do you buy that as her reasoning? Or do you think she was making a scene for another reason?
OK, I did not like Princess Sheveän at all. How dare she treat precious Maia like that? I didn’t buy her reasoning either. She was extremely overdramatic about it and made sure she confronted Maia in a very public setting. I’m not sure if she was just testing Maia to see if he would show weakness or if she had another reason. Either way, I was very glad when Maia didn’t back down.
Cala and Vedero both have some hard but pragmatic advice for Maia here: Cala's concern is for the emperor being seen to be weak for treating his nohecharei as equals when their job is to protect him; and Vedero's situation is different but her concern is basically the same as Cala's. She seems alarmed at the idea that Maia might go against society and tradition by refusing to bargain for a marriage for her. How do you feel about these scenes, and the conversations between them? Are they being too harsh and/or cynical, or is Maia simply being too naive?
Maia is definitely naive, but I agree with him! It seems silly that he can’t be close with his nohecharei when they are the only ones with him all the time. Like Maia, I understand it is inappropriate for his position as emperor, but that’s a problem with everyone else, not with Maia. I was very sad when Cala told Maia they couldn’t be close. Maia doesn’t really have friends, so losing Cala and Beshelar was hard.
Maia letting his sister pursue her dreams has been one of my favorite parts of the book. Maia understands that refusing to bargain for Vedero’s marriage will put him at a disadvantage, but he refuses to do it anyway. And his reasoning is simple: he thought it was silly that a young man should dictate a very capable woman’s future. I really hope Maia sticks to this decision. I am worried that Maia’s position on the throne will be threatened because he will not marry off his sister, but it’s still the right choice.
Vedero advising Maia to bargain for her marriage made me respect her as a character (somewhat ironically, since I do not support Maia marrying her off). From what has been said, Vedero has been given few choices and has every reason to take the opportunity Maia gave her and run with it. Instead, she is letting him make the choice because she knows he needs her marriage to secure his position on the throne. Her advice was sincere and selfless. I really hope we get to know Vedero more and learn about her motivation to help Maia.
Setheris attempts to come at Maia from his more abusive position, clearly intending to railroad his cousin into giving him a position at court he feels is worthy of him. Yet Maia sticks to his intention of sending Setheris somewhere he will not have so much easy access to the new emperor. Do you think, with that, that Setheris's days of troubling Maia are over?
Ugh, no. I said last time that I had hope for Setheris, but I’ve lost that. Maia’s insecurities from being told he’s incapable of anything were more prevalent in the second part of this book (not to mention the physical abuse). I’ve lost all love for Setheris. Now that Setheris has already tried to manipulate Maia I doubt he will stop. First, Maia put Setheris in a position that he is unhappy with. Setheris will want to get out of that position, especially if conflicts with Chavar arise. Second, Setheris is probably used to being able to bully Maia into submission. I am sure Setheris believes that if he pushes Maia enough he will get his way. Oh, and lastly, Setheris might just try and bully Maia because of wounded pride. I’m sure he hated having Maia finally best him. Not cool, Setheris!
A discovery is made that the sabotage of the Wisdom of Choharo may have been caused by the Cetho Workers League - a "dissident group". Do you think this will lead to a resolution of the investigation, or did the plot just thicken?
I think this was just Chavar’s attempt to pin the murder on a group he doesn’t like. The Cetho Workers League sounded like they were annoying to people in power, but wouldn’t actually have the resources to kill the emperor and his sons. My guess is Chavar will try and pin the murder on them just to get rid of the group.
Maia's grandfather is coming to court for Winternight, though this seems to please Maia far more than it pleases Chavar ... What do you make of Chavar's open disagreeableness during the dinner at the ambassador's home? Is it plain arrogance (albeit the racist kind), or do you think his disapproval of goblin folk runs deeper than that?
I am really not sure about this. Racism definitely plays a part, and so far there is no indication that his disapproval runs deeper, other than he Chavar was unreasonably ornery at the dinner. I would have understood arrogance and pretentious behavior, but Chavar also seemed angry. I guess we’ll see in the next part of the book!
Other thoughts and impressions
There are a lot of examples of Maia’s kindness in this part of the book. He’s overwhelmed with court politics but doesn’t lose his values. I absolutely loved the part when Maia went to visit Osmerrem Daivaran. Maia has shown strength throughout the story, but he is still young and human. It’s nice to be reminded that he wishes his mother were with him and is lonely in his position as emperor.
Also, I 100% suspect Maia's grandfather of having a part in the murder. He was the one who wanted his daughter (Maia's mother) on the throne and didn't care what happened to her. How convenient that the murder of the royal family has resulted in his grandson on the throne...