The Socially Distant Read Along of The Goblin Emperor really kicks into high gear! This week we discussed Chapters 23–26: “The Opposition of the Court”, “The Revethvoran”, “Matters of the Aftermath”, and “The Clocksmiths and the Corazhas”—chapters that deal with severe upheaval in the Elven Court, and take a dark detour into a ritual suicide. The chapters are in many ways the peak of the book’s action, and readers had a lot of points to make!
We’ve rounded up some of the highlights—be aware that there is a brief conversation about suicide during this post.
So much happens in this section. Maia has a far more successful dinner party than the last one he tried, there’s an attempted coup, Maia’s very tempted to abdicate in favor of his nephew Idra, He discovers that one of his own guard conspired against him, that guard has to commit ritual suicide, which Maia witnesses, and he still has to try to keep the government running as all the hell breaks loose. The conversation covered many of the big moments from this section, though, as always, our amazing readers want to dig into the heart and characters of the book more than plot points, because they’re amazing!
The Temptation of Monkhood
But First a Dinner! With Some Light Chatter About Colonialism
As one reader points out, this is just another example of Maia’s horrible inheritance from his father:
But it does at least provide a window into another culture.
We shouldn’t too surprised that someone tried to exploit Maia’s inexperience and overthrow him. But the conspirators themselves were a bit surprising:
And what about Setheris, who seemed primed to be the book’s villain?
Csetheio Ceredin! Kiru Athmaza!
If nothing else, at least the attempted coup allowed Maia’s Empress-To-Be to show him her true personality!
And we also get a glimpse of her skills as a wordsmith:
Between Ceredin and Kiru Athmaza, Maia’s new guard, it seems like the Elflands are seeing a shiftin how women’s roles are defined:
In Kiru we also get to see a competent career woman who is miles away from the ladies of the Court:
And Maia’s new guard may find herself with other responsibilities soon enough:
Justice for Csevet!
Csevet, who is basically the greatest character in written history, has alluded to having a troubled relationship with the Duke Tethimada, one of the men who s vying to marry Maia’s sister. In the aftermath of the coup, Csevet finally drops his guard enough to explain that the Duke tried to rape him, and, failing that—Csevet bit him and slipped out of his grasp—encouraged his drunken friends to chase Csevet through an unfamiliar castle. The poor elf barely escaped them.
Meanwhile one reader teased out the intricacies of Setheris Nelar, Maia’s abusive cousin. One of the strongest elements of this book is that while Setheris’ abuse is never excused, Addison does show the readers enough angles on the character that even he can be an object of empathy.
And, too, many of us probably sympathize with the idea of being banished from our normal lives and trapped in a house more than we would have a few months ago.
But really everything comes down to Maia as a new kind of leader in his society, and a model of thoughtful justice.
Edrehasivar The Obstinate
But after many pages of darkness, Addision ends this section on an optimistic note: Maia finally forces his parliament to discuss a plan to build a steam-powered drawbridge over the Istandaärtha River. This bridge would bring a giant economic boost to the poor commoners of the region, so naturally the snobby elves think it’s frivolous. Unfortunately for them, there’s a progressive new Emperor running things.
Never restrain your crows of delight. Join us next Wednesday at 2:00pm EST when we’ll discuss Chapters 27–32: “The Great Avar Arrives”, “A Letter from Mer Celehar”, “A Ball and a Deathbed”, “The Nineteenth Birthday of Edrehasivar VII and the Winternight Ball”, and “A Conspiracy Unearthed”—hope to see you at #TorDotReads!