by Katherine Addison
The first chapter was enough to tell me this one is for world building Fantasy fans, the kind who loved Lord of the Rings. We've got elves, political intrigue and an airship crash that results in a new emperor. I can see why reviews on this one are polarized, as it has some hard to pronounce names and other earmarks of old school Fantasy. Personally, I was hooked by the end of that first chapter. Bring on more!
Maia is half-elf half-goblin, a disregarded fourth son relegated to exile after his mother's death. He might have been forgotten forever, but an airship crash that kills his father and brothers leaves him as next in line to the throne. With his mixed blood and lack of training for court life, there is bound to be adjustment issues at the least.
The story is heavy on political intrigue, but very well done. Maia is a very likable character and I enjoyed watching him rise to the situation and find his strengths, overcoming an abusive childhood. I thought he struck a good balance, seeking advice on protocol from those he could trust and recognizing when courtiers were trying to bully or trick him into doing what they wanted.
The aspect of mystery was good too. Several characters are introduced who might have the sort of ambitions that might have resulted in sabotage of the royal entourage's airship. The story kept my attention and had me wondering which of the more slimy characters might have been behind it, or whether there could have been a conspiracy.
Some other likeable characters arise as well, though I found myself wondering who might have hidden motives, even among the apparent 'good guys'.
One thing that surprised me was the spiritual aspect of Maia's goblin heritage. I find it fascinating that stories about goblins that look into their society are increasingly Shamanic or spiritual in some way. It's an interesting trend.
I did find the book hard to put down in the later chapters, falling asleep late at night but determined to finish one more chapter. In the end the mystery was solved and the book came to a tidy end, but I'm hoping there will be more books in this world. Despite stumbling a little over convoluted names, I really enjoyed the read and may even look into some of the author's other books under her other pen name.