Archive for the ‘Katherine Addison’ Category

The Goblin Emperor

I have much enjoyed a fantasy book, Goblin Emperor, by Katherine Addison. Don’t be discouraged by the name which is, I own, rather distressing: in this world, goblins are not the malevolent creatures we know. More like an exotic race, which interbreeds with the elves. It could be something like the Europeans and the Turks in the middle ages, only without all the violence and war. It is an odd conceit, and had the author chosen some other name–Elderlings, whatever–it possibly wouldn’t have given it the frisson she was aiming for.
It is a little gem, so completely unexpected, not at all what I thought I was getting into. Yes, there are elves, there are goblins, there are castles and kingdoms–but there are also airships, incendiary devices, pneumatic messages, and an extraordinary vision of elaborate court protocol, with venomous intrigue and assassination attempts. The names are complicated and beautiful–our hero Maia, the disregarded and ignobly raised son of the emperor, who suddenly finds himself on the throne, decides to take the name of an illustrious ancestor, Edrahasivar–he will be the 7th of that name. Hesaro Nelaran is his guardian’s wife, Csoru his father’s widow, Nedao Vechin the enchanting opera singer with whom he does not have an affair. He is protected by guards sworn to protect him with their lives, his Nohecarei. The plot is fairly benign, with enough excitement to keep you entertained, but not so vexingly over the top as for instance, Diana Gabaldon, whose 3rd book I am still slogging through. DAMN those idiotic plot devices, but, let us not get side tracked.
Maia’s father is an elf (the Emperor with whose unexpected death the book starts) and his beloved dead mother was a goblin. He has elf ears, and his skin is grEdrahasivar the 7thay–elves are snow white, and goblins range from gray to black. I made a picture of him in his fabulous imperial regalia. Which he keeps finding is extremely uncomfortable, though very grand.
Meanwhile, while searching for the names of the characters, I came across a fine and very useful site, which  is called TV Tropes (here is the Goblin Emperor page). It is a wiki describing various movies and books according to the tropes encountered therein–not, as they hasten to point out, clichés:  “The word clichéd means “stereotyped and trite.” In other words, dull and uninteresting. We are not looking for dull and uninteresting entries. We are here to recognize tropes and play with them, not to make fun of them.” An alert and sharp way to look at books and shows, and quite helpful too!

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