Intrigue, betrayal, loneliness— when most of the royal family dies in a tragic airship crash, exiled younger son and half-goblin Maia suddenly ascends to the throne. Now he must learn to play the game of court intrigue.

“We can write back, at just a great a length as he, and give him no information at all.”

page 57

Raised in isolation, Maia is ill-prepared to rule the elves, but determined to do so on his own terms. Coping with crushing loneliness, he searches for loyalty, avoids treachery, and slowly discovers the ways he might make a mark on his world.

Why is this on our bookshelf?

Airships, fantastic races of goblins and elves, and a clockwork bridge— fantasy like you’ve never read before.

The Goblin Emperor is a 2014 Nebula Award nominee and a 2015 nominee for the Hugo Award for Best Novel.

Rating (5 stars)

The Goblin Emperor is unlike any fantasy novel I have read recently. Magic and faeries are conspicuously absent, replaced by two races who harbor suspicion towards each other and a richly imagined world with just a hint of steampunk.

If you are expecting a gripping page-turner with thrills a minute, set this one aside. Instead, you’ll be treated to a realistic story where betrayal, treason, and loyalty play a huge role.

As an outcast, Maia is easy to identify with. Faced with a near impossible task— learn to rule or die trying— he enters his role reluctantly, but never flags in his efforts.

One of my favorite character moments for Maia was his admission that he harbors fear and hate toward a certain person. Recognizing that this person still has good qualities others appreciate, he simply finds a place of respect for this person far away from himself, rather than reacting with anger. It is something many people could learn from.