Saturday, 9 May 2020

The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison: Readalong Week One

Among the many cool things happening with Wyrd & Wonder, there's a read along for The Goblin Emperor. Now, I've never actually done of these before, so that's cool thing number one. Cool thing number two is the book itself. The Goblin Emperor is one of those books that seems to have a cult classic reputation, in that everyone I know who has read it rates it highly but a lot of people haven't read about it. For anyone who wants to join in,

a) this post will contain spoilers for chapters 1-9
b) Here’s the reading schedule at a glance:
  • Week 1: Wednesday 6th May, Chapters 1 through 9
  • Week 2: Wednesday 13th May, Chapters 10 through 17 (end of part 2)
  • Week 3: Wednesday 20th May, Chapters 18 through 26 (part 3)
  • Week 4: Wednesday 27th May, Chapters 27 to End (part 4 & 5)

Lisa at DeerGeekPlace is hosting the readalong .  The questions will be posted weekly in  a Goodreads group page, and will also be tweeted out weekly from the @wyrdandwonder account using the hashtag #TheGoblinEmperor, as well as the standard #wyrdandwonder tag. 
Now, ze questions:

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?

I sure as hell didn't expect to get some thees, thys and thous. I'm not going to lie, it threw me. I immediately started comparing it to The Worm Ouroboros regardless of whether it made sense simply because of the language and goblins.

However, after a few pages, I put aside the comparisons and enjoyed it for what it is. I like a certain measure of archaism and gravitas in my fantasy as long as it doesn't interfere with the readability.  The Goblin Emperor went a step beyond in terms of that gravitas but didn't sacrifice any readability.

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 empathise with the newly ascended Emperor?

Funky terminology aside, I didn't feel much deep end. Emperors are emperors, bodyguards are bodyguards, creepy chief advisers are creepy chief advisers, and so on. Addison goes to pains to make sure the world's described quickly, so that it wasn't like I understood how it worked either.
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?
Cousin Setheris is interesting in that there's a clear enmity there but part of me wonders if he can come around. No particular feeling for it, just a hunch that if some enemies are going to become friends and friends become enemies, maybe Setheris is most likely to change when he sees Maia as Emperor. And maybe there's a link there with Setheris' wife. Speaking of wives, the young widow whose name I can't remember screams trouble. 
However, the real winner here is...
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?

Cohen the Barbarian said it best: never trust the Grand Vizier. And Lord Chancellor, Grand Vizier, it's all the same. Right now, Chavar looks like about as much trouble as undercooked chicken at an all you can eat buffet. But being involved? It hadn't occurred to me until I saw the question. It makes a lot of sense though (huge amounts if you trust the plot set up) but should I trust my first instinct? Whoever killed Maia's dad, they either think they gain from Maia being there, or plan to off him in a little too. And I'm not sure how Chavar benefits.

What are your other thoughts/feelings/first impressions?
This is my sort of book so far; one that doesn't try to hook me with explosive action but that with its voice, its world, its observations and sense of building tension. Addison is very good at it.
However - and I get the impression I'm not making any friends with this - I'm not sure I'm that taken with Maia yet. He's very nice, and his situation is interesting, but he's not hooked me yet. And the big cast hasn't let me warm truly to any of the other characters. Hoping that comes through in the next chunk.


  1. Glad you're settling in comfortably - I'm with you on that momentary WHAAA at the language, but you sum it up perfectly: it remains very readable for all its formality.

    ...I'd forgotten Hesero. Setheris's wife screams trouble to me - I'd like to think they're both just keen to get out of disgrace and back into court, but Setheris is such an unpleasant character and yet so clearly enamoured of his wife that I instinctively mistrust her.

    Whereas I agree with you on Chavar: I don't see how he benefits from murdering the emperor and his heirs. But I can't remember whodunnit, so I'm happy to settle in and find out!

  2. Yeah, Chavar seems a little obvious to me, but then maybe it's as simple as that, but like you I can't figure out what he gains, surely he wouldn't become Emperor? I like the intrigue and keep jumping from one person to the net. Hesero, I can't help suspecting her of something, she might just be trying to get back into the good books but I just don't quite trust her.
    Lynn :D

  3. Now I've read around everyone else's comments and thought a little more, I'm definitely suspicious of Hesero. If Setheris has been in constant contact, then she knows *exactly* how to charm Maia. And while I'm struggling to think who'd benefit from the Emperor's death, Setheris feels real solid.

  4. I also have a hunch that Setheris will come around. His wife seems nice. She definitely had Maia flustered. I hope that's a good reflection on Setheris.

    Whether or not Chavar was involved in the assassination, he definitely doesn't have Maia's best interests at heart.

    1. I mean, Chavar doesn't have any of Maia's interests anywhere, not even the slightest part of it in his smallest toe nail :D Definitely shaping up to be the most loathable character so far!