Review: The Goblin Emperor
I like books like The Goblin Emperor. Books that defy easy classification or definition. Books that don’t make it easy to figure out where the story is headed next. Really anything that's even a little comparable with King Ralph has got a leg up with me.
The book starts out easy, the King Ralph thing I mentioned. A kid who was as far removed from the throne as someone in line for the throne can be, finds himself suddenly at the front of the line. From there the story moves through the aspects of the elvish court from the mundane to the Machiavellian.
The story sings with some fantastic world building as we move through all the facets of kingly life. Every part of the world is fully realized and presented in a way that always feels genuine and with context that takes some of the more fantastical and complex and distilled them easily through the view of the young Monarch. Even as the complicated politics and plots rise against the MC, we are kept grounded by the excellent character work at the heart of the story.
Unfortunately, most of those good things are taken a bit too far to the detriment of the novel. A lot of the world building aspects, while interesting and well constructed, add little to the core of the novel and many of the best bits are left dangling at the end. I also found the naming convention of the characters to be very obtuse and distracting, though I did get use to not being sure who was who for a few sentence at the start of each reading session.
The novel also seems to lead you astray with its worldbuilding. It is easy for long time fans of fantasy to have their expectations of a more action oriented plot dragged along through the first half of the novel until its clear that the journey of the MC is going to be mostly internal and the externals of the story were only the engines by which we see the growth of the Goblin Emperor.
If you are ready to try something that’s much different than the usual fantasy fare but hatched from a world that is beautiful and worth getting to know, then The Goblin Emperor is for you. I give this one three stars out of five.