Read-along: The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison (Week 1)

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Yay! It’s the Wyrd and Wonder read-along! Each week’s prompts are being provided by the most awesome Lisa of Dear Geek Place and can be found every Wednesday on this Goodreads group page here. I should also warn – there will be SPOILERS!

I have been stupidly excited about this year’s read-along since my husband, Thumbs, ordered The Goblin Emperor for me so that I could take part. I am a ridiculously lucky person sometimes.



Week 1 – Beginning to Chapter 9 inclusive

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 will admit that the first couple of thy, thou and thee had me worried – it’s been a long time since I read a fantasy that employed this sort of language – but actually, it’s kind of working for me. It enforces the feeling of this very formalised society in which people don’t speak plainly. And I love the use of the majestic plural, mostly because I want to use it myself. I mean … we wish to use it ourselves. We feel it lends us an air of … *waves hand vaguely* … distinction that has been lacking in our blog up ‘til now.


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?

I enjoy being thrown into books and having to puzzle things out as I go along. It works well here both as a way for Addison to impart information without info-dumping and as a way of increasing our fellow-feeling for Maia. We learn along with him as the need arises, and we share in his slow dawning to various situations. Of course, it helps enormously that Maia is an incredibly likeable character. Despite (or because of) how he has been living up to his ascendancy he has a big heart and a great deal of compassion, even for those who don’t deserve it. The path he has to walk is feeling more and more like a tightrope, and I’m feeling very concerned for his chances right now. Is he too gentle a character for the machinations of court life? I feel like he’s got steel in him too, but just as I don’t want him to fail, I also don’t want him to turn into a coldly calculating politician.


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?

On my hate list: the Lord Chancellor Chavar, Maia’s cousin Setheris, the Widow Empress Csoru and the Princess Sheveän – all pretty obviously Bad Guys in varying degrees.

On my potential-love list: Maia’s new Secretary Csevet (I really really hope – please don’t be a prentending-to-be-helpful-bad-guy Csevet! I’ve already decided I like you a lot!), and his nohecharei Beshelar and Cala, who I’ve also decided I like, but don’t know why, (and maybe their seconds Telimezh and Dazhis, I hope, although I don’t feel like we’ve gotten to know them yet). Certainly they’ve all been helpful so far and don’t seem to have led Maia astray.

In the wider court I don’t yet know who might be helpful or not. Someone killed the Emperor and his three sons, putting Maia in the hot seat, and we’ve no real clue as to who that might have been yet. If in doubt, suspect everyone. I’d like to think that the Barizhan Ambassador Gormened might end up being a cool guy, being a goblin rather than an elf (and it interests me that I’ve already decided elves = bad news, whereas goblins = probably better; where’s that come from, I wonder?)


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?


I mean, OK, at the moment I suspect everyone, but he’s number one on my list. Which I’m hoping means it’s not him, because that would just be a little too convenient. I’m hoping for someone a bit more unexpected, (*crosses fingers* but not Csevet, not Csevet, not Csevet).


What are your other thoughts/feelings/first impressions?

I am surprised how easy to read this is. I loved the Handbook for Travelers in the Elflands excerpt on pronunciation at the beginning, and was then thoroughly intimidated by the Listing of Persons, Places, Things, and Gods that followed, so was concerned that the book was going to be a slog. Instead, it reads beautifully.

And Maia is lovely. I love that he talks to people, and that he was aware of the dangerous attraction that punishing Setheris held for him and counselled himself against it. I like that he’s not above taking an instant dislike to some people, and that he says thank you (out here in real life my pet hate is people not saying thank you like it costs them to do so).

And my final thought is simply that I want more!



The next post for this read-along can be found here:

Week 2 – Chapters 10 to 17 inclusive



  1. Yes, very lucky! Shout out to your hubby for buying the book for you. That’s very nice. 🙂
    Lol at your use of the royal “we.”
    I do hope Csevet is a good guy although I kinda suspect him of being a spy.
    So glad you mentioned the Handbook for Travelers. It’s at the back of my book and isn’t listed in the table of contents (neither is the glossary). So if you hadn’t mentioned it, I probably wouldn’t have found it until I completed the book and it would have been immendsely helpful to have read the Handbook for Travelers before starting.

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    • *we* are dreading discovering that Csevet is Chavar’s spy after all. I so want him to be good (I love efficient people!) …
      Glad you found the Handbook useful – weird to put it at the back. (??!) 😃


  2. Yeah, I’m with you on so much right now, Ahem, ‘we’ are with you actually. We feel that Csevet and Chavar have a link but hope it isn’t that obvious. Cleary Csevet could be working for Chavar (GoT has so much to answer for – it has made me suspect everyone), he hung around making himself helpful until he was appointed, and it was his prompt that pushed Chavar into being appointed to head the investigation into the deaths, which seemed to be a relief to Maia but at the same time it really plays into Chavar’s hands?
    I am probably going to change my mind about who is suspect on a five minute basis though. It’s going to be very intriguing.
    And, yes, what is wrong with saying ‘thanks’ it costs nothing after all? It’s something I’m really liking about Maia so far – a certain down to earth attitude that means he isn’t happy or prepared to ignore somebody because of who they are.
    Lynn 😀

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  3. We can all aspire to greater gravitas in our blogging, although we wonder how tricky we may find to maintain it (I find myself wanting to slip straight into ‘one wonders how tricky one may find it’ instead, which is a whole other absurd mode of speech I apparently have a soft spot for)

    Delighted you are enjoying this read 🙂

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