The Socially Distant Read Along of The Goblin Emperor invites you to a feast! This week we discussed Chapters 17-22: “Dinner with the Goblin Ambassador”, Varenechibel’s Legacies”, Thara Celehar’s Grief”, “The Proposal of the Clocksmiths of Zhaö”, “Mer Celehar Goes North”, and “The Bridge over the Upazhera.” This section encapsulates the best part of The Goblin Emperor: statecraft and worldbuilding are deftly tucked into dinners and conversations that seem almost mundane at first, until their true significance is revealed.
And then, like all good conversations, this one turns to ghosts!
First, a Feast!
Maia attends a formal dinner with Gormened, the Goblin Ambassador, but for once Csevet didn’t overthink every single tiny thing, because no one remembered to tell the new Emperor that he needed to prepare a speech. At the same time, Maia has to process being in a room full of goblins for the first time in his life, and almost hyperventilates when he realizes that for once he’s part of a majority.
Language and Culture I
We learn two very telling phrases from Maia’s mother’s language…
…which clue us n to some fascinating aspects of Barizheise culture.
Language and Culture II
Tharu Celehar, the Witness for the Dead, has been hiding some fairly large secrets. Maia (who is, as we’ve mentioned, the BEST) never pried. But finally Mer Celehar explains that the reason he’s no longer a practicing clergyman is that he had to out himself when he revealed that his lover was a murderer. In learning Tharu Celeshar’s secret, we encounter the word marneis, which seems to sum up at least some shades of queerness, and learn that queerness is not exactly accepted in the Elflands. Rather than giving us expository dialogue, or a coming-out scene, Addison simply presents Mer Celehar’s story to Maia and the reader simultaneously, and allows us to process the news together.
Mer Celehar opens up expecting to be dismissed from Maia’s service:
But Maia, who has always been an outsider, decides to table his own opinion and trust Mer Celehar to do his job.
But what of other characters?
Gods and Ghosts
In addition to being chock full of steampunk elves, The Goblin Emperor also presents us with a pantheon of gods!
And, in one of the best elements of the book, ghosts are probably real!
A large part of this section is choosing a proper Empress and getting Maia safely hitched. Maia, having grown up with his poor mother, has no interest in forcing another woman to be a victim to his family.
This does at least lead to a good relationship with his quasi-stepmother…
…and the acknowledgement that if nothing else, they’ve both outlived his terrible father.
Those were just some of the highlights! We’re heading into a tense next section, so we’ll only be reading four chapters this time! Join us next Wednesday at 2pm EST, when we’ll be discussing Chapters 23–26: “The Opposition of the Court”, “The Revethvoran”, “Matters of the Aftermath”, and “The Clocksmiths and the Corazhas”—we hope to see you on Twitter at #TorDotReads!