The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison is a good character driven story that is very well written but lacks an engaging story.
So far this review is the hardest review I have had to write. I liked The Goblin Emperor but I couldn’t look past a lot of the short comings. It is a shame, because it is a good book, in fact it could of been a great book, but unfortunately it fell short. I couldn’t decide to give this a 3 or a 4, so just know that it is a good 3. To have any doubt in my mind made me realize that a 3 was warranted.
The Goblin Emperor is a story about a young half elf, half goblin prince that is last in the line for succession to the throne and is put away by his royal family. A tragedy strikes and the Emperor and all his sons die in a suspicious way. Maia, the half elf, half goblin prince, becomes the Emperor through this tragedy. He must navigate the waters of an imperial court that is hostile towards him while dealing with his own insecurity and doubt.
Maia is a highly likable character. He was abused by his guardian and never educated properly. When he becomes Emperor, he knows little of what to do, but his mother’s teachings years ago help him remain focused. He is a good man that sees the need in people’s lives. He wants to treat everyone with respect but in a society that demands condescension to those below your own level, he finds it difficult. I really liked Maia and his character is what made me like The Goblin Emperor as much as I did. His growth as a character was really well written by Addison. He goes from an insecure nothing to a man that everyone respects and admires.
Addison is a great writer and there were a few times I had to look up a word in the dictionary. The prose was soothing and calming. This is the type of book that makes you feel good, comfortable. The style of prose is inviting and well groomed.
The problem is that along with the prose being comfortable, so was the plot. The plot did not surprise me at all. The two main conflicts in the story were rather sub-par. There was only one scene in the entire book that had any sort of excitement or danger and for a fantasy book that is just too few in my opinion. There just wasn’t any excitement in the plot and that made me so disappointed because it is a good book, just not much fun. Maia’s growth and reaction to events is what drives the entire book forward and not any excitement in the plot. Not once did I feel that Maia was in danger or that it would end in any other way than everything working out. The book felt sterile.
The other problem with The Goblin Emperor was that there just wasn’t enough different with this world than our own world. The most inspired and imaginative part of the entire book was this society’s view on guilt and punishment. However, everything else was just renamed things from our own world. I don’t mind fantasy novels having a lot of strange and exotic names and titles but when those positions are direct mirror images of our societal titles but just with the name changed, it lacks imagination.
The titles, formal greetings, and names in The Goblin Emperor didn’t bother me much. I took notes at the beginning and used the information in the back of the book. Unfortunately I read almost 300 pages before I noticed the titles page before the glossary in the back. In all it wasn’t too complicated to know who was talking to whom.
Addison’s intention was to create a rich, unique, and complex Imperial Court that was heavy on intrigue and subtleties while writing a character driven story. There just wasn’t enough fleshed out interpersonal relationships with Maia though. Maia and the people around him withdrew themselves from each other because of him being Emperor but that caused the possibility for complex friendships and love to be rather shallow. At the end I was happy that Maia had a handful of people that he could trust and be friends with but even then he made it a point to make sure to distinguish between those relationships he had and true friendship. If we would have seen Maia fall in love, form close relationships, and then have the conflicts that came up in the story, it would have been much more exciting. I just think that Addison was slightly restricted with the relationships because of her take on what it meant to be an Emperor in this world.
I am happy to have read The Goblin Emperor though. The tone and pacing of the book was different for fantasy and at times there were hints of a more literary fantasy book that would exceed my expectations. However, the plot just didn’t excite me, and there were few poignant relationships during the meat of the novel. I will keep an eye out for more of Katherine Addison’s books and check out her other books under Sarah Monette because she is a talented writer that I think can succeed in becoming a true literary fantasy author.
Here we go with my favorite fantasy art of the last week.
Unknown artist inspired by The Glass Throne by Sarah Maas
The Martian is an engaging book that hooks you from the very beginning, but also celebrates the ingenuity, tenacity, and determination of man to survive.
I don’t read a lot of science fiction books. In fact this is one of the first ones I have ever read and I’m glad because I liked it a lot and I think that this book will stay with me for some time in the future. If Mark Watney can survive on Mars alone by himself for almost 2 years, I should never complain about what I need to do.
The story is about Mars’ astronauts, the third group of astronauts to visit Mars, and a man left behind. There was an accident on the surface of Mars and a crew member was knocked unconscious. His vital signs were not registering and the rest of the crew had to get off the planet because of a dangerous sand storm that was about to make them all be stuck on Mars. Making the right decision, they left Mark Watney, because they believed him to be dead, and saved the entire crew.
Watney was able to make it back to the structure that housed the astronauts on Mars and make repairs to his space suit. Realizing he was probably pronounced dead, his focus now is to survive. Using ingenious chemistry, physics, botany, and many other scientific fields this mechanical engineer and botanist was able to grow his own food on Mars, and repair every issue that came up. His goal was to contact earth, and survive long enough to be picked up 3 years from then by the next Mar’s mission.
The people on earth found out that he was still alive and the entire world is turned towards watching the news about Watney. Everyone is pulling for him and the world comes together in a time of crisis to try to save Mark. So basically it is a mixture between Cast Away and The Truman Show. Everyone gets updates on how he is doing and what he is doing but no one can really do anything for him until much later.
This book is a relatively easy read. There is a lot of science being explained, especially Watney trying to figure out how to fix or accomplish a goal, but it is never over the reader’s head. I’m not that big of a science nerd and I understood almost all of the science jargon. The delight of the book is Watney figuring out all of these work arounds. It is like reading a McGuyver astronaut and it is highly entertaining. It is highly uplifting to the reader to read about a brilliant man using his brain to survive but doing it with such a great attitude. Mark is updating his progress with logs on Mars and there are only a few moments when Mark acts defeated but the vast majority of the time he is so optimistic that the reader can’t help but really like him. Because we see something in him that we all want, real optimism and intelligence, our connection to Watney is what makes us keep reading.
Andy Weir wrote this book and had it for free on his website when it started out. He then self published the book making it one of the best selling self published books available. Broadway Books then published the book themselves and now there is even a movie on the way. Weir is a science nerd and you can tell he really loved writing this book. The fixes that Watney made when problems arose were ingenious and that came from Weir. However, even though Weir wrote some amazing science stuff in this book, the actual writing has a lot to be desired. The parts in the book that were at Nasa weren’t the best parts in the book. They contained a cast of characters that the reader really didn’t care about and the writing seemed off a little bit. I think this is because Weir did a good job writing in the first person, from Watney’s log statuses, but struggled some with the third person writing. Watney’s crew members were written much better though and their personalities were engaging. More interpersonal relationships between the people on the ground would have helped a lot.
This was a fun read that I enjoyed exceedingly. It was not a perfect novel by any stretch of the imagination but it was entertaining. Watney will come to your mind in the future after reading this book. In that regards, it does more than a lot of other books do, it stays with you. When things are looking bad just think about how bad things must of looked for Watney. When Watney could of had a pity party he worked instead. We have so much to be thankful for in life and we could all be more like Mark Watney at times.
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen is one of the most revered books ever written in the English language and for good reason.
I must admit that when I started this review blog that I never intended on reviewing classic literature. However, the more I read this year the more I realized that there was a vast catalog of books that I was basically ignoring. I want to challenge myself in my reading and to read a diversity of great books. I want to be a well read individual. So I decided to challenge myself to read a classic literature or a modern classic once a month. I want to grow as an individual, open myself up to new experiences, and to develop a strong sense of who I am as an individual. I feel that these books will help me do just those things.
Pride and Prejudice is a book that focuses on the courting of young men and women in the hopes of marriage. Written in the early 1800’s, Jane Austen, focused on plots dealing with women’s dependence on marriage to secure their spot in society. Within these plots there are a lot of social commentary and irony that shows Austen’s thoughts on the roll of women in society. Pride and Prejudice was her second book after Sense and Sensibility and is regarded as the easiest book to get into reading Jane Austen.
At first I didn’t know if I was going to enjoy this because I struggled at the beginning. For a guy that is used to sword battles, magic being used, and treacherous characters, Pride and Prejudice seemed boring and trite. I realized relatively soon that I was reading the basis for every single romantic comedy ever created, which is guy and girl don’t get along, have witty banter with each other, one falls in love, and then has to pursue the other. So I kept reading and focusing on the material because millions of people can’t be wrong about the love of a book. After writing the character’s names down and their relation to each and reading a piece about Austen’s humor in Pride and Prejudice, everything snapped together. Things that I was taking serious were never really suppose to be taken serious and was suppose to be humorous. With those revelations I ended up enjoying the book greatly. There were then times when I was like, “No way Darcy did not just say that to Elizabeth, zomg!”
The prose, vocabulary, and structure of Pride and Prejudice is absolutely wonderful. I wanted to be challenged and I was because I used my dictionary at lease 15 times while reading Pride and Prejudice. Once I started to read faster and stopped thinking of it as poetry it also became much easier for me because most similar prose I have only encountered in poetry. This is a beautifully written book by a woman 200 years ago that shows how beautiful the English language can be.
Austen set the framework for all female authors and set the bar high. She is held as the greatest female author of all time. I am looking forward to reading some more of her work in the future. I watched many video book blogs on youtube that talked about classical literature and so many recommend starting their classical literature journey with this book. I am glad I did and will probably read this book again a few years down the line. I liked it a lot but I did not love it. Maybe with time I will learn to love it.