I read Katherine Addison’s The Goblin Emperor this week. If you haven’t read it I don’t want to spoil your enjoyment, so although there are no spoilers, the rest of this post is after the break.*
It was a genteel story, very character based, and slow-moving. It reminded me of some of the C. J. Cherryh stories, where things go along quietly for most of the story and then, right near the end, something happens, and even then most of the action seems to be almost off to the side. I’m thinking particularly of Cherryh’s Forge of Heaven here, where I remember the book as being like this, even if it wasn’t.
It’s a quiet novel, very literary, which doesn’t always work in fantasy, because the lush language that usually accompanies it makes you struggle harder to understand a world that you’re not familiar with anyway. And you do have to work to understand this book too—the names, the formal speech—but after a while you forget you’re struggling.
The best part about Addison’s book is Maia, the boy who never expected to become ruler.
He is lonely, isolated, unprepared, and very unsure of himself, and we spend the whole book inside his head.
He is also a genuinely decent person. Addison shows this well, even given all of the above.
Not only that, it’s a hopeful book. Uplifting even. That’s a pleasant change in our genre.
* If you want a book review, Justin Landon, over at the Staffer’s Book Review, says pretty much all I would have liked to say.