Weekend Reads is back with another Wyrd & Wonder readalong discussion for Katherine Addison’s The Goblin Emperor.
Y’all, I love this book so much and it’s all because of Maia. I think it will be one of my favorites of the year, which is saying something because I have no idea who’s who, the names confuse me, and I have no idea how anything outside or inside the palace looks. I’m just going along with Maia here. And I think this may be the first that I read a book and love it although I don’t have strong images in my mind of what things or people look like.
Anyway, here are Lisa’s questions (and my answers) on the latest chapters. Lisa, from Dear Geek Place, is the moderator for the readalong on Goodreads and is a co-host of the Wyrd & Wonder fantasy celebration event.
Goblin Emperor Readalong Questions for Chapters 18-26:
These chapters open with a very candid, yet significantly warmer than most, conversation between Maia and Arbelan, and from there things begin to change as Maia learns to act with more confidence. Do you think Arbelan’s kinder treatment of him is what sparks this, and if so, how much of an impact do you think it had?
I don’t think Arbelan’s kinder treatment is the cause of the change in Maia. I think it’s simply that he’s getting used to the court and his position. He has grown since his arrival at court, since becoming emperor, and it’s showing now in how he navigates people and situations and especially as he slowly gains confidence in himself. (I can’t believe it’s only been a little over a month since he became emperor. I keep thinking months have gone by because of all Maia’s dealing with.)
However, I think his conversations with Arbelan are helpful. He gets information from her (court gossips and certain details about his father), but I think he also learns some politicking from her. So, I don’t think his conversations with her cause him to gain confidence but that the slow blossoming of his confidence causes him to form and sustain a relationship with her over their meals.
The river bridge scheme proves to be a delightful plot point to push a lot of character interaction forward, as well as opening up the scope of this world. Were you surprised by the developments involving Lord Pashavar?
Yes! 😀 Oh man! I was just as struck with trepidation when Maia showed up at dinner with the Marquess Lanthevel and saw that Lord Pashavar was there as well as Captain Orthema. That’s a lot of important people in a room. But I was glad for it and for the conversations (and possible bonds) that resulted from it. I also liked that Maia got a change in company from Nurevis and that this company is more mature and knowledgeable but don’t seem intent on manipulating Maia. This change was needed.
This interaction also made me like Pashavar. I like how he interacts with his friend Lanthevel and I also like that he offers advice to Maia and even tests him a bit and seems to be fair, willing to hear out Maia on the bridge although it probably won’t change his mind about it. I was also surprised that he didn’t like the old emperor much. It seems to me that there are more than a few people who didn’t like the old head.
“An emperor who breaks laws is a mad dog and a danger, but an emperor who will never break a rule is nearly as bad, for he will never be able to recognize when a law must be changed.”
Like a train gathering steam, a great deal of plot drama happens here. Let’s talk about Sheveän and Chavar. Were you surprised by their gambit? And how do you feel about the way it all played out (i.e., Idra’s decision to put his foot down)?
I enjoyed this part, although I was fearful for Maia’s safety. He handled himself well despite how terrified he was, and I appreciate that we later get more details about how Maia felt when he reviewed the event with the witness dude Csovar.
I still think Sheveän was motivated by grief regarding her husband’s passing. I think her grief made it easy for her to blame Maia for his passing. Her grief made her easy manipulate, so I think Chavar is the mastermind here. However, I do not absolve Sheveän of what she did. She was grieving, yes, but I think her emotions were probably complicated too. She was losing a high position at court and there’s possibility that her son would not become emperor; she wanted someone to blame and easily gave into hating Maia and participating in high treason.
So, yeah, I was surprised that Sheveän was party to this plot, but Chavar wasn’t a surprise. I was kind of expecting something like this from him because of how deeply he disagreed with Maia. He didn’t even give Maia a chance and did not help Maia. His and Sheveän’s reasons for placing Idra on the throne is to have someone to easily manipulate (Chavar) and regain influence at court (Sheveän). That’s what I think. Anyway, I hope Chavar is executed.
I was glad of Idra’s decision and glad that he wasn’t part of the plot. He’s a smart kid. I didn’t expect him to make the decision he did, though. That was a surprise.
And (oh my gosh!) the nohecharei. I wasn’t shocked that one betrayed Maia, but I think this shows it’s best there is some sort of friendship, or bond other than duty, between the emperor and his nohecharei.
We get another surprising turnaround from Ceredin, Maia’s intended empress-to-be, as well. What are your thoughts on her by the end of these chapters, compared to her initial impression?
I was glad for this turnaround. It made me curious about her. Before, I wrote her off and was doing my own plotting to see how Maia could get out of his marriage (lol), but now (when she said she doesn’t want Maia to be intimidated by her… something like that) I really want Maia and her to get to know each other better.
(Oh wait, so Ceredin is Lanthevel’s niece?? She was at the dinner where Pashavar was too?? If so, I didn’t realize until now. So she’s the one who sent the note about challenging Sheveän to a duel?? OMG, I really need to reread this book then. I tell you, I hardly know who’s who because I can’t pronounce the names so I don’t bother to and just skip over them, which, I now realize, was not a good idea.)
The story, and perhaps the danger, is not quite over yet… Any thoughts on what might be in store in the final chapters?
No thoughts but more wondering how things will be resolved. There’s so much to wrap up and Maia’s grandfather hasn’t arrived yet, Maia’s marriage needs to happen, the murder plot needs to wrap up, the bridge must be built/decided on, and the treasonous assholes must be punished. So I’m very eager for the end to see what happens. I hope it isn’t a loose ending where some things are left unresolved. That would really upset me. I’m actually already missing Maia. He is such a good character to read about.
As always: any other bits and pieces you’d like to highlight?
YES!! Can you tell that I’m very chatty? I always have a lot to say about books. Anyway, I really enjoyed these chapters because of Maia’s growth. He’s gaining confidence and becoming so used to his position that reverting to using “I” felt odd (lol!).
I was glad that he won his latest confrontation with Setheris. It was needed and I think there was some healing there as well because they both acknowledged the rift between them. And Maia exhibited growth there too by not backing down from Setheris and standing up for himself. It’s possible that Setheris won’t bother Maia again.
I also like that one of Maia’s nohecharei is a woman. I think that’s significant in showing to the court his progressive thoughts. I also think there’s a friendship developing between Maia and his nohecharei again, at least I hope so, and I’m no longer suspicious of Csevet. The way the story assured me (and Maia) of Csevet’s trust made me think the author read my mind…from way in the past when she wrote this story.
I worry what’s to become of Idra and his sisters (I love the name Mireän, btw) and also Nurevis.
I also wonder if there will be any other developments between Maia and Min Vechin (the opera singer girl… can’t remember her name if that’s not it). I don’t think I like her anymore.
I also love how this section ends: Maia so fascinated with the clockmakers’ demo of the bridge, asking them to make it move again. It shows a break from pressing duties when he gives into an innocent, almost childish, delight at something. It was needed.
What I’m currently reading:
It’s still these three, but I’ll be focusing on American Gods this weekend and hopefully not play too much Sims.