If I woke up one morning to find a messenger bowing down to me and proclaiming I was queen, I would be completely bewildered. My first reaction would be to think it was some sort of elaborate joke. If it proved to be a joke, I don’t know what I would feel. Irritation? Amusement? Regret? I would probably be relieved. All that envy and discontent at court would be uncomfortable to deal with. Somehow, royal life doesn’t seem quite so dandy anymore.
The Goblin Emperor is a unique fantasy book written by Kate Addison. Maia, an eighteen-year-old half-goblin, is rudely awakened one morning to an unpleasant surprise: a messenger sinks down on one knee on Maia’s threadbare carpet and announces that Maia is king. Soon, Maia is whisked away to the Untheileneise Court. Bewildered and afraid, Maia soon realizes that his arrival is less than welcome. Plots to kill him are springing up all around him. Who can he trust? Who will betray him?
Maia is a fish out of water at the Untheileneise Court. As the courtiers gradually get to know his methods and personality, his reputation deteriorates. Maia’s father, the late king Varenechibel IV, never bothered to tutor Maia or even invite him to court; as a result, Maia knows next to nothing about diplomacy, politics, or etiquette. Indeed, the only time Varenechibel saw Maia, he called him a “damned whelp” (p. 21). Maia desperately tries to gain respect and be kind at the same time, two things that seem to be unattainable as king.
The whole matter of the Untheileneise Court is somewhat laughable. Most of the aristocrats who reside there are no better than any of the commoners—in fact, worse. They are gossipy and frivolous, flouncing their fancy titles and impressive bloodlines. Maia is bewildered when he is introduced to the court. How should he treat them? What is considered impropriety in the eyes of a group of touchy egoists? As Maia tries desperately to assert his power, offended courtiers become dangerous enemies.
The Goblin Emperor is an impressive tangle of court intrigue, attempted murder, and unhappy half-goblins. It showed me that, despite the glamour, I would definitely not want to be queen.
Middle-grade fantasy, ages 12–14.
You can buy this book here.
Addison, Katherine. The Goblin Emperor. Penguin Classics, 2006.