Author: Leigh Bardugo
Title: The Language of Thorns: Midnight Tales and Dangerous Magic
A collection of fables set in Bardugo’s Grishaverse, The Language of Thorns first came to my attention through Trang’s review on Bookidote. As a novice to Bardugo’s writing, without any reading experience in Grishaverse, but with rather better knowledge in the areas of myth, fairy tale and fable, I can conclude that Language of Thorns is an inventive, pleasurable read, which pleases the eye as much as the mind, owing that to wonderful illustrations by Sara Kipin. Though it would certainly do better without the lengthy and slightly cheesy subtitle, I think I understand the sentiment, especially that this book is advertised to an audience slightly younger than me ;).
There was a lot of talk about this book last year. A 2015 Locus Best Novel award winner, a 2014 Hugo and Nebula nominee, noted favorably by authors like GRRM… in short, Addison’s novel received a lot of praise. Alternately classified as high fantasy or grimdark, this book seems to me something else entirely. Addison asserts that it’s a stand-alone novel and no direct sequels will be written (a full interview here), and it is a complete story, however, it ends in such a way that a sequel or sequels are quite possible. Very well, but what’s the story?
The Goblin Emperor tells the story of Maia, a young half-goblin, half-elf princeling who, due to an airship catastrophe that removed his father and his three half-brothers from the land of living, quite unexpectedly becomes the emperor of all elves. Despised and abused, kept away from the court for all his life, Maia must now find the will and wisdom to become a ruler in a world where many oppose or hate him on the grounds of what he is. Court intrigue, betrayal and acts of heroism ensue. If I were to sum it up in one sentence, I’d say “A male Cinderella story”.