Sunday, April 26, 2015

The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison

A Hugo nominated book which got the nomination for its’ own sake and was not recommended on either of voting blocks, not on the naïve but fairly understandable voting block favoring militaristic, “fun” books leaning on the right; or on the bloc run by racist who was kicked out of the Science Fiction Writers of America and who apparently drafted idiot gamers who have ruined they brains by playing computer games and who were responsible for the “gamergate” scandal to ruin this thing, too.
The elf king and his closest sons have been killed in an accident which turns out to be sabotage. His only surviving son is a half-goblin who is a result of a political marriage (apparently elves and goblins belong to the same species in this universe – which is kind of strange) He has lived solitary life for most of his life and is more than a little overwhelmed when he ends up as the king of all elves. But he turns out to be a more capable ruler than anyone suspected.
The book could be called “comfortable”. Most of the people behave peacefully and even the bad guys who plot against the new king don’t seem caricatures and their actions are understandable, at least mostly. The main character is very sympathetic, maybe even too much. He doesn’t really seem to have any real flaws – even his shyness and slight social awkwardness seem minor and sensitive features.
The book has a vast number of characters and it is extremely hard to keep track of them, especially for someone who is bad with names, like me. The Kindle app in IPad makes an automatic list of all names in the book. It isn’t completely accurate, but it gives a good ballpark figure. According to that analysis, this book has 136 different characters! That is kind of high figure for 512 pages, especially when most people have fairly hard and complicated names. Another flaw is that fairly little happens in the book. Most of the book is filled with the fairly mundane matters of governing the state. A lot of space is used for the description of balls and other official events and what kind of clothes everyone wears and what the king should wear. Also, the discussions about the king’s marriage (king’s marriage is done mostly to strengthen alliances) takes many pages. The book was readable, but it isn’t really “my style of book”. Somehow the book felt pretty similar to the Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin which was nominated for the Hugo awards a few years ago. I think I prefer that book to this one and I am not sure if this is an award worthy book. This probably won’t be at the first place on my list.
512 pp

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