Read-along: The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison (Week 2)

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So, we’re into the second week of the Wyrd and Wonder read-along and oof, it’s been a heck of a week. I don’t know about anyone else, but I’ve run the emotional gamut from despair to hope and back again. Fortunately, that most marvellous of hosts Lisa of Dear Geek Place has provided prompts that have helped me get my thoughts into some sort of order.

Please be warned that, as before, there will be SPOILERS!


Week 2 – Chapters 10 to 17 inclusive

So many verbal encounters. So much political muck! Let’s start with Princess Sheveän, who seemed so very outraged at the idea of the late emperor’s body being ‘desecrated’. Do you buy that as her reasoning? Or do you think she was making a scene for another reason?

Ooooooooo, I don’t like Sheveän at all. I think all her uppity-ness is more to do with Maia using the widow empress’ cousin Celehar as Witness for the Dead and thus conferring favour on Csoru, than any real concerns over desecration. I am, however, one of those slightly stupid readers who needs to be told what to think, so if there are other implied reasons for her strop, I haven’t picked up on them. I sort of feel that she just wants to make it plain from the get go that she doesn’t like Maia and considers herself of enough consequence that she doesn’t need to curry his favour. Perhaps she hopes, by making her position plain, to draw other malcontents to her?

All I know for sure is that if she hurts my Maia she better watch her back … *spit*

Cala and Vedero both have some hard but pragmatic advice for Maia here: Cala’s concern is for the emperor being seen to be weak for treating his nohecharei as equals when their job is to protect him; and Vedero’s situation is different but her concern is basically the same as Cala’s. She seems alarmed at the idea that Maia might go against society and tradition by refusing to bargain for a marriage for her. How do you feel about these scenes, and the conversations between them? Are they being too harsh and/or cynical, or is Maia simply being too naive?

Oh my goodness, the scene with Cala killed me! My hope is that Maia will eventually win Cala and Beshelar over that they can be friends, but I’m pretty sure that’s just wishful thinking. But if he can’t be friends with them, nor with Csevet, then who can he be friends with? He spends more time in their company than in any one else’s, and at least when he’s with them he can’t be accused of favouritism. It just seems like one punishment too many – Maia is struggling with so much and then Cala delivers that killing blow: “We cannot be your friend”.

Maia’s dealings with Vedero have been interesting so far, and I’d like to think she might warm to him, or at least realise he’s nothing like their father. I get the feeling she is distant to protect herself. She doesn’t want to be married, but is aware that she is a valuable pawn in the game of empire whose own desires cannot be taken into account. That Maia startles her out of her armour, even if just for a moment, gives me hope that she might come round. Whether she does or not, I cheered Maia for sending his note. In fact, every time he does something that makes another character splutter, rage or protest I wave my little imaginary Edrehasivar VII flag and cock a snoot at the court. 

Setheris attempts to come at Maia from his more abusive position, clearly intending to railroad his cousin into giving him a position at court he feels is worthy of him. Yet Maia sticks to his intention of sending Setheris somewhere he will not have so much easy access to the new emperor. Do you think, with that, that Setheris’s days of troubling Maia are over?

Setheris has been lurking in the back of my mind since this scene, it was fraught. He’s the character I would most like to see destroyed, not by Maia, but as a result of his own self-love and his bullying nature. Part of me thinks that there really is no way that Setheris can get at Maia now that he is forever in the company of some witness or another. But there’s a little voice in my head that keeps saying it can’t be that easy. There will be trouble from Setheris yet, I think. That he’s going to work for the Lord Chancellor doesn’t bode particularly well, being as Chavar seems to hate Maia too, and Setheris knows Maia in a way that no doubt Chavar could use.

I am very worried for Maia right now. 

A discovery is made that the sabotage of the Wisdom of Choharo may have been caused by the Cetho Workers League – a “dissident group”. Do you think this will lead to a resolution of the investigation, or did the plot just thicken?

The plot just thickened. I could stand a spoon up in it it’s so thick.


Maia’s grandfather is coming to court for Winternight, though this seems to please Maia far more than it pleases Chavar … What do you make of Chavar’s open disagreeableness during the dinner at the ambassador’s home? Is it plain arrogance (albeit the racist kind), or do you think his disapproval of goblin folk runs deeper than that?

I am so excited about this! I can’t wait to meet the Great Avar of Barizhan and see how he will treat Maia. I don’t want to get my hopes up, but elves seem, in general, to have a low opinion of goblins, and so I’m inclined to believe that the goblins will be better people than the elves. I know it’s a ridiculous assumption to make and I’ll probably be disappointed, but there it is. When Maia thanked the goblin ambassador Gormened for the nesecho and Gormened said that he wanted to convey to Maia the reassurance that not everyone is against him, I nearly cried. That Gormened’s wife also takes the trouble to provide a small distraction after Maia’s very brief speech at the dinner made me feel all warm and fuzzy. It may not yet mean much, but these small things could become friendships of a kind.

As for Chavar’s behaviour … I think he is just a racist asshole. I feel now that he won’t be the most dangerous threat to Maia. He’s pompous and overbearing, but I don’t think he’s going to be able to play against Maia because Maia is’n following any of the rules Chavar understands. I don’t know if that makes sense, but I’m feeling now like Chavar is too obvious an enemy and that there’ll be something worse than him to deal with.


Any other thoughts and feelings?

What’s Csethiro Ceredin, Maia’s chosen empress-to-be, going to be like? Friend or foe? Help or hindrance? I am both dreading meeting her, and I can’t wait.

Lord Berenar’s offer to tutor Maia in the proceedings of the Corazhas and more generally in the ways of the court seems generous. First it made me feel that Maia now stands a chance, until it occurred to me that Lord Berenar may be doing it for some nefarious reason I can’t see yet, then I went straight back to worried. This seems to be the pattern with every new event – I’m hopeful then suspicious, or suspicious then hopeful, and never for more than five minutes at a time before I’m back to the first emotion again. Seriously, I’m up and down like a yo-yo with this story!

And we’re about half-way through and I never want this to end!



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

Week 3 – Chapters 18 to 26 inclusive



  1. I never even thought about Chavar and Setheris now being thrown together. There’s a recipe for disaster if I ever heard it.
    And, yes, I absolutely can’t wait for this forthcoming visit and also to meet Maia’s betrothed. Fingers crossed that she’s lovely.
    Mmm, Lord Berenar, I really don’t know what to make of his offer yet. Of course he could spin things in the most favourable way for himself or try to poison Maia against others but time will tell I suppose.
    Lynn 😀

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  2. I read this in a day last time around and the emotional rollercoaster was _exhausting_ – as you say, a glimmer of hope, an avalanche of suspicion – over and over again.

    I do love the goblins from what we’ve seen so far though: less formal (do all elves have an axe to grind and a stick up their ass? #NotAllElves but maybe most of the court) and more compassionate – I’m looking forward to meeting grandpa.

    And OH I forgot to talk about how bashful Maia is around women. He is just adorable, poor sheltered overwhelmed boy. His note to Csethiro felt so off-key blunt and yet so heartfelt (and his interaction with the opera singer was priceless)

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  3. I suspect everyone of having an agenda but for some reason, I keep thinking Sheveän is more consumed by grief than anything else. I don’t know why I’m giving her the benefit of the doubt.
    I think Cala’s advice was needed but I still hope Maia can be friends with them. I think he needs people he can really trust and, now that I think of it, I think the complaint about how he treats his nohecharei is probably from those who felt jealous or slighted that he chose them to be his companions during crowning ceremony.

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