The Goblin Emperor v North Bridge

Book: The Goblin Emperor
Author: Katherine Addison
Publisher: Solaris
Published: 2014

There are not a lot of books like this one. It is a phenomenal piece of fantasy and deserves to go down in the annals as a classic of the genre. You won’t find any of the swashbuckling, high stakes adventuring that you find in the majority of fantasy. This book is all about the finer details.

It is a story about power relations. Those who think they have it, but don’t vs those who have it but don’t realise how much. It’s written from the perspective of Maia – the last living son of an Emperor who would rather the world had forgotten about him – and his unexpected ascendancy to the throne after his father and elder siblings are killed in an ‘accident’. He was never meant to be Emperor, and at the beginning of the book has spent almost his entire life in exile with only a bitter tutor for company. There is very little plot beyond that, and the rest of the book is mostly about his coming to terms with the role and growing into it while navigating the murky waters of the court.

To be frank, it shouldn’t really work as a book, but it does. It really does. With so little action it is a wonder how riveting the story is. Much of that is down to how interesting the mind of Maia is and the dynamics of his interactions with everyone else. He is the emperor but – at least in the beginning – he acts as though he is a timid school child afraid of being told off at every turn. He does not know who he can trust, or if his father was murdered whether his life is also at risk. The main element of the story, what drives it, therefore, is his working out who he can trust and then rely on to help him become the thing he was never meant to be.

Beer: North Bridge
Brewery: Thornbridge collaboration with North Brewing Co
Style: Mountain IPA
Strength: 7.2%

The bitterness of this beer comes through first on the palate, but it’s not a harsh bitterness. It’s a fresh taste like mountain spring water, cool and refreshing, but in beer form. Basically I just want to find a mountain spring that provides beer rather than water, but for now I will settle for this beer.

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