Editors Note: I read this entire book while on 4 hours sleep, and while stranded on a balcony. I do not claim that this review represents my normal, completely objective and impartial opinions.
So! The Goblin Emperor. It is a bit of Hamako's _Long Live the Queen!_, where a half-goblin-half-elf (or "golf" as they are called) is unexpectedly promoted to lead a tradition-soaked Elven empire. The Golf must determine what sort of ruler he will be, and must survive treacherous political waters and various threats. On the whole the book is enjoyable. The main character and many others are likeable, there are inventive and cleanly described scenes and environments, and there are some neat twists to what could have otherwise been a more standard tale. I particularly liked the interviews with the sabetours at the end. There is some difficulty/confusion in the book, since you have to learn a boatload of elven names and terms, but I interpreted this as a way for the author to convey the difficulty the protagonist has to face when first plunged into the Imperial Elven court. The writing is of a general high quality, and like with _Authority_ I enjoyed the descriptions of political/psychological/organizational struggles.
There were a few flaws in the book. The main character Maia is very likable, and reminded me of an elf/goblin version of Avatar Aang. Maia's psychology never really fit for me though. Aang is who he is because of a naturally cheerful disposition, and because of his warm and careful upbringing by Buddhist monks. While Maia had some positive early influences from his Mom, that stopped when he was 8 years old, and just about every experience after that was bad. It did not entirely fit for me that a childhood of abuse and neglect produces the enlightened 18 year old in the novel. Or to put it another way, his psycho-history didn't really ring true, and there wasn't an entirely convincing explanation for it in the novel. Still, there are worse things than having a largely cheerful and wise protagonist. A second complaint that I would make is that in some ways, the hero doesn't really do that much. He survives the plots against him mostly through other people's interventions or just luck. He would *not* have made it far in the environment of _Long Live the Queen!_. The hero does make positive changes in the empire, but again a lot of that is due to placing his trust in bystanders who happen to be trustworthy, rather than through positive or direct action of his own. Or to put it another way, he is not really a Tywin Lannister, he is more someone who exemplifies the Tao and then has that flow down through his subordinates. I think I might like a sequel more in this regard if we were to see the hero after he has come into his own, and & can play a more active role in manipulating/guiding the politics of the kingdom. Like with Ancillary Justice, I think there is a lot of promise in the universe that Monette has created.