Everything’s political: The Goblin Emperor Readalong, Part 2

In this week’s chapters, everybody wants a piece of the emperor – except when they don’t. And it looks like the murder plot might be thickening?

Let’s discuss The Goblin Emperor. Spoilers follow for chapters 10 through 17.



So many verbal encounters. So much political muck! Let’s start with Princess Sheveän, who seemed so very outraged at the idea of the late emperor’s body being ‘desecrated’. Do you buy that as her reasoning? Or do you think she was making a scene for another reason?

Well, here’s the thing. I might believe that she was genuinely outraged at the ‘desecration’, even if only for her own self-centred reasons, if there had been actual desecration of any sort. She’s told repeatedly, by more people than just Maia, that there was none. So one has to wonder just what she was really upset about. If she was even truly upset at all, and she struck me as laying on the theatrics a bit too thickly to really seem genuine here. If anything struck me as coming from a place of genuine emotion with her, it was her obvious distaste for this new upstart emperor.

Maybe she was IN ON THE ASSASSINATION and none of the aftermath went the way she’d thought it would. If anything is a given for her right now, it’s that her position is effectively null and void. An emperor’s widow has far less power and influence than an emperor’s wife might, but what if she thought she could grab at more power as, say, a regent?

I dunno. That still assumes that she’s got enough brains to pull a plot like this off; she seems very given over to petty maliciousness, so maybe I’m overthinking that. But WHO KNOWS. I’ll put a pin in this idea and see what happens…

Cala and Vedero both have some hard but pragmatic advice for Maia here… How do you feel about these scenes, and the conversations between them? Are they being too harsh and/or cynical, or is Maia simply being too naive?

(I made this original question super long, didn’t I! Anyway.)

I feel like the answer to this boils down to “yes, and no” – on both counts. I can definitely understand where Cala and Vedero are coming from, and maybe cynicism is informing their choices with what they tell Maia, and the positions they take on these matters. And I can’t really argue that Maia’s shine hasn’t had enough time to properly tarnish yet.

On the other hand, I have so much sympathy for all of them. Maia is trying to get by in a very harsh world, surrounded by people who either don’t care about him or actively hate/dislike him because of who he is, both before and after becoming emperor. He’s reaching out for friends, which is entirely understandable, and if Cala had been colder and more standoff-ish from the start, maybe I would sympathise less with him. But there’s a definite sense there that they could get along if only the rules of propriety weren’t perceived as being in the way.

And then there’s Vedero. A woman with hopes and dreams being hemmed in by society is always going to push my sympathy buttons, and I really hope things can turn out differently for her. To heck with marriage, Vedero! Take Maia up on his offer! (Opportunity?)

Oh, my babies.

Setheris attempts to come at Maia from his more abusive position, clearly intending to railroad his cousin into giving him a position at court he feels is worthy of him. Yet Maia sticks to his intention of sending Setheris somewhere he will not have so much easy access to the new emperor. Do you think, with that, that Setheris’s days of troubling Maia are over?

Ha. Nope. No, I don’t – and I’ll expand on that a bit more further on, but for now – I don’t believe for a moment that Setheris has simply decided to accept his fate, or his new post. There’s going to be some price to pay for Maia slighting him this way, and the thought of what that price might be makes me very nervous!

A discovery is made that the sabotage of the Wisdom of Choharo may have been caused by the Cetho Workers League – a “dissident group”. Do you think this will lead to a resolution of the investigation, or did the plot just thicken?

I definitely think it did, though it might have done so in more ways than one! This particular plot thread opens up whole new avenues of suspicious possibility, but it also expands a little on the worldbuilding, which I’m excited about. So far we’ve been up to our eyes in the rather insular political machinations at court; this plot point reminds us that there’s a wider world to consider, and that nothing going on on the inside won’t have ramifications on the outside, as it were. So hell yes, give me your ‘common folk forming a union’ outside-world plot thread, please. I’m here for it.

To tie this back into earlier discussion points, I’m not at all convinced that Sheveän would ‘lower’ herself to conspire with workers, but I wanted to raise this particular development here lest we forget that Maia just assigned Setheris to a liaison’s post with Cetho.

I’m sure absolutely nothing will go wrong with that. Nothing at all.

Maia’s grandfather is coming to court for Winternight, though this seems to please Maia far more than it pleases Chavar … What do you make of Chavar’s open disagreeableness during the dinner at the ambassador’s home? Is it plain arrogance (albeit the racist kind), or do you think his disapproval of goblin folk runs deeper than that?

He is totally racist, and there is no excusing that. It’s also very arrogant, but I feel like it’s of a more ignorant variety than a malicious one, with Chavar. I could be wrong, but I get the sense that this sort of ‘holier than thou’ attitude is just his default state, and that he genuinely doesn’t expect to ever be called out for it, hence his open disapproval.

Maia. Dear sweet cinnamon roll that you are, please, I need you to put this dude in his place. You can do it! I know you can! And while you’re at it, sweetie, hear what those bridge engineers have to say without His Pompousness there to get all red-faced about it!


Whew. That was a lot – feelings, thoughts, suspicions, it was just generally A Lot. And in case you missed them, here’s what everyone else taking part thought about this week’s developments:

Week 1: Dear Geek Place | There’s Always Room For One More | A Dance With Books* | Book Forager | Foxes and Fairytales | Lynn’s Books | Natrosette | Peat Long | Word Wilderness | Zezee With Books

*features discussions of both Weeks 1 and 2

Week 2: There’s Always Room For One More | Book Forager | Foxes and Fairytales | Lynn’s Books | Natrosette | Peat Long | Word Wilderness | Zezee With Books



8 comments On Everything’s political: The Goblin Emperor Readalong, Part 2

  • Yeah, Shevean – I never even connected with the fact that there was no desecration and so no need for all the dramatics. Very suspicious indeed – she almost comes across as scared – maybe of discovery!!!
    Lynn 😀

  • …apparently we both mistrust overly theatrical public displays of emotion? Sheveän is definitely up to something!

  • Oh boy. I did not like Shevean, but hadn’t seriously considered her a suspect in the murder. It would explain why she was so angry, about Maia “desecrating” her husband’s body and taking the throne. We’ll have to see.

    I am also waiting for Maia to put Chavar in his place. I know he’s capable of it and definitely wants to. Some of my favorite parts of the book are when Maia snaps and puts people in their place (plus some added petty revenge, all the while thinking “probably should not be doing this”). So innocent, yet still capable of cruelty. Your comment about Maia not having enough time to “tarnish” yet has me nervous. I really do hope he remains a morally upstanding character.

    • I’m not sure Maia is altogether capable of cruelty, though I could certainly not blame him if he gets angry. He definitely has some nerve, he just needs to pluck it up and really show it. 😀

  • Yes! So many feelings!!
    The more read-along posts I read the more I think that Shevean could have had something to do with the old emperor’s death. Certainly I don’t think I’ve been as scared of her as I need to be!
    And oh yes, I am here for the workers’ union and the bridge builders, and for Maia putting Chavar completely down!

    • I’m not entirely sure she’s someone to fear – I feel like if she was involved, maybe someone could have put her up to it, or is using her in some way. I dunno. But I am full of suspicion! She is no innocent!

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