Friday, May 29, 2015

What we're reading: Fairies and fantasy

The Goblin Emperor, by Katherine Addison

The reader follows as the heir most removed from the line of succession for the dazzling fairy court finds out he has lost the father and siblings he never knew, and has now inherited the throne. 

Our hero, Maia, the unwanted half-blood son of the Emperor, does not fit in physically or emotionally; his education was not appropriate; and he has no allies. His mother, a goblin princess, was a political bride and was not valued for either her connections or for her person; she died years ago, leaving only her memory to help him. The distant elf cousin who raised him should have been his support, but is helpful to Maia only as a guide to what not to do.

How will he find a way to stay alive and be true to himself and his new responsibilities? Will he take power only to ensure his survival? or will he learn how not to be a puppet cut down all too soon?

There are no massive battle scenes in this book 
– indeed, many of the most vicious struggles are, on the surface, polite small nothings – yet Addison creates a world and an unlikely character so complete and intriguing that I followed every nuance while desperately rooting for our hero. We all have inadequacies, but how we grow and address them is the measure of our character and, by that scale, our prince is an emperor indeed.

An added bonus for some readers is that this can be read as a stand-alone book – although it is so well written that I could not help hoping that the author gives us more. For good reasons, this book is on the short list for this year's Hugo Award (winner yet to be announced).

Reviewed by Andrea, circulation clerk

Editor's note: There are some Steampunk elements to this fantasy, for all you fans. Also, some reviewers do an "if/then" with this book  – saying "If you like The Hobbit, then you will also like The Goblin Emperor." Check it out and see!

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