The Goblin Emperor
Tor 2014 - April
Eighteen-year-old Maia, the son of the emperor of Untheileneise, has lived in exile all his life, relegated to a manor far from towns, cities, and the royal court of his elvish father, under the guardianship of a cousin who hates him. His life has been desolate since his goblin mother died when he was only eight years old and he has experienced no kindness or affection since she died. When a dirigible carrying the emperor and Maia’s many half brothers crashes and burns, he finds himself the new emperor. Going to court, woefully unprepared for politics, his innate good sense and kindness come into play as he faces racial prejudice and political rivals who would welcome a coup. While Maia may be naive in the ways of palace intrigue, he is far from that in his appraisal of human (elvish & goblin) nature. Discovering that the dirigible explosion was intentional, he faces even more dangers.
Addison’s complex world building is some of the best in fantasy this century. In addition to creating a political system, religions, language, and customs, her world also looks at race and gender roles. I loved the expressions and emotional nuances delineated by what is going on with the placement and attitude of characters’ ears.
This satisfying read is going on my list of top ten so far this year.