The Witness for the Dead (The Goblin Emperor #2) by Katherine Addison

My Five Word TL:DR Review : An excellent, character focused story

WitnessThe Witness for the Dead is the second book in Katherine Addison’s Goblin Emperor series – although it isn’t a continuation of that story but a focus on one of the character from book 1.  Strangely enough a character that I was keen to learn more about so i was very happy to discover that Addison had returned to this wonderful world.

I’ve actually borrowed from the book description to give you an idea of what the book is about because I think this gives a very good idea of what you can expect:

‘When the young half-goblin emperor Maia sought to learn who had set the bombs that killed his father and half-brothers, he turned to an obscure resident of his father’s Court, a Prelate of Ulis and a Witness for the Dead. Thara Celehar found the truth, though it did him no good to discover it. He lost his place as a retainer of his cousin the former Empress, and made far too many enemies among the many factions vying for power in the new Court. The favor of the Emperor is a dangerous coin.

Now Celehar lives in the city of Amalo, far from the Court though not exactly in exile. He has not escaped from politics, but his position gives him the ability to serve the common people of the city, which is his preference. He lives modestly, but his decency and fundamental honestly will not permit him to live quietly. As a Witness for the Dead, he can, sometimes, speak to the recently dead: see the last thing they saw, know the last thought they had, experience the last thing they felt. It is his duty to use that ability to resolve disputes, to ascertain the intent of the dead, to find the killers of the murdered.’

So, as you can see this book is far removed from Court and the Emperor.  However, even with that removal to the City Celehar hasn’t completely escaped politics and maneouvering.

The actual plot here revolves around a number of ‘cases’ that Celehar becomes involved with that range from murder mystery, will forgery and banishing ghouls and in fact some of the cases give us the really ugly truth of what Celehar’s strange abilities sometimes entail – seeing the last few moments of murdered victims can be particularly harrowing, as can speaking to those who died in horrible accidents and unsurprisingly Celehar’s work causes him many sleepless nights and strange and unsettling dreams.

The storylines we follow are interesting, particularly in giving a good feel for the City.  I loved to see the world of the Opera and all the tea shops with their varied food and drinks.  I liked the way that the author particularly focuses on day to day routines, clothes, etc and provides a clear picture of Celehar’s everyday life.  All of these things help to build a strong picture of Amalo, it’s poor quarters, the factories, living and working conditions, in fact Celehar himself does not receive a generous salary for the work he undertakes and it was interesting to see him struggling to justify purchases and making purchases second-hand.  There’s a sort of down to earth quality about these everyday things that is both mundane but at the same time strangely comforting to read and really helpful in building up a strong picture of the main character.

Which brings me to Celehar.  I mentioned above that this is a great character study and this is what really made this book stand out for me, much more than the plot in fact.  Celehar is such an unusual character.  How to explain.  I think the first thing that comes across is his formality.  He follows what he perceives to be the correct forms of etiquette in terms of speech almost with overbearing politeness at some points.  This comes down basically to the fact that he finds it difficult to interact with people and so I suppose adhering to a certain form of polite ‘rules’ provides him with comfort.  To be honest, I really liked him.  He’s thorough, he’s honest, a bit lonely, sad almost, but I loved his frankness and he felt so refreshingly different, I wanted to hug him but think he would be horrified by the notion.  He takes on board his tasks, no matter how distressing, in an uncomplaining fashion and is stubbornly determined to see them through even though they may make him unhappy.  It’s possible that Celehar is autistic – although I’m certainly not an expert so that could be completely wrong – but his difficulty in communicating with others, his almost obsessive attention to detail such as directions to and from places, his very structured and methodical way of dealing with situations, his straightforward way of describing things without softening the blow, all point in that direction.  The other thing I really liked about Celehar is that in spite of his own fears about certain things people like him, of course, some people are intimidated by the nature of his work, but what shines through here is that eventually his natural determination to help others wins him friends.

Overall, this was a quick and easy read with a character that I was keen to learn more about and a world that I was very happy to explore further.  A very different book than the Goblin Emperor but another example of how Addison excels at character development.

I received a copy through Netgalley, courtesy of the author, for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.

My rating 3.5 of 5 stars



Can’t Wait Wednesday : The Witness for the dead, (The Goblin Emperor #2) by Katherine Addison

Can't Wait Wednesday

“Waiting On Wednesday” is a weekly meme that was originally created by Breaking the Spine.  Unfortunately Breaking the Spine are no longer hosting so I’m now linking my posts up to Wishful Endings Can’t Wait Wednesday. Don’t forget to stop over, link up and check out what books everyone else is waiting for.  If you want to take part, basically, every Wednesday, we highlight a book that we’re really looking forward to.  This week my book is : The Witness for the dead, (The Goblin Emperor #2) by Katherine Addison.

TheWitnessA standalone novel in the fantastic world of Katherine Addison’s award-winning The Goblin Emperor.

When young half-goblin emperor Maia sought to learn who had killed his father and half-brothers in The Goblin Emperor, he turned to an obscure resident of his court, a Witness for The Dead named Thara Celehar.

Now, far from the court, Thara Celehar lives in quasi-exile, neither courtier nor prelate, serving the common people of the city. He lives modestly, communicating with the dead as is his duty.

But his decency and fundamental honesty will not permit him to live quietly. Celehar will follow the truth wherever it leads him no matter who may be implicated in murder, fraud, or ancient injustices.

Expected publication : June 2021

The Angel of the Crows by Katherine Addison

AngelofMy TL:DR Five Word Review : Sherlock Holmes Winged Fantasy fanfic

Okay, so, this wasn’t quite what I was expecting.  The original description is very mysterious indeed and certainly intrigued me enough to request a copy even if the author’s name hadn’t already stoked my attention to unusual heights.  Here’s a copy of the original description:

‘This is not the story you think it is. These are not the characters you think they are. This is not the book you are expecting.

In an alternate 1880s London, angels inhabit every public building, and vampires and werewolves walk the streets with human beings under a well-regulated truce. A fantastic utopia, except for a few things: Angels can Fall, and that Fall is like a nuclear bomb in both the physical and metaphysical worlds. And human beings remain human, with all their kindness and greed and passions and murderous intent.

Jack the Ripper stalks the streets of this London too. But this London has an Angel. The Angel of the Crows.’

Overall, I enjoyed this and it was entertaining.  I do have slightly mixed feelings however – but then, at the same time that feeling is dependent on whether or not this is intended to be a series.  If more books are planned then I would put my mixed feelings down to that certain feeling you experience having read the first in a series of books where you’re left wanting  more and with  gaps in your knowledge that you expect to be filled in as future instalments are forthcoming. If this is a standalone then I’m left with that feeling of not being quite sated but still having enjoyed a revisit with some old storylines and characters.  What I am puzzled about is why the whole ‘Sherlock and Watson revamped’ scenario is left off from the blurb.  I’m always interested in any reimaginings that include this pair and also usually onboard for anything including Jack the Ripper so putting the two together is a double whammy for me.

What did I really enjoy about Angel of Crows:

This is an alternate London where fantastic creatures live alongside the everyday mundane.  Vampires, Werewolves and Angels to name but a few. Holmes and Watson are themselves quite far removed from the original characters in more ways than a simple change of name – here called Crow and Doyle.  Crow, for example, is an angel and in truly infuriating style I’m not going to tell you anything about Doyle, other than he’s a military doctor now retired from service following injury.  Both of them have secrets.  That is all I’m prepared to say.  I think writing Holmes as an Angel was a brilliant idea.  His character always had a sort of ‘ethereal’ or aloof feel to it in the original stories and he came across as a little detached which is perfectly portrayed here.  I loved the friendship that develops between the two and their interactions and the way they support each other. On top of that I loved the idea that Angels are linked to a particular residence which makes me want to go and look up places like the Angel Inn.

Angel of Crows includes a retelling of a number of the original stories and uses the Ripper cases as a backdrop with Crow becoming heavily involved with the hunt for the killer. This allows a common thread to run throughout the story which is also aided by each individual storyline introducing new threads.

In terms of criticisms.  I think this might have benefitted by focusing more on one particular story rather than incorporating so many of the originals, it gave the stories a slightly rushed feel.  There was also a rather skimpy feel to the usual powers of deduction and reasoning behind Crows assumptions, in fact he had a rather downplayed  role in that respect.  I would also like to know more about the supernatural aspects of this world – although if this is a series rather than a standalone  – that might be further developed in future instalments.

Overall I had a good time with this.  I enjoyed the writing and revisiting these characters albeit in a different guise.  I think the author’s love for this is also very clear and I would happily read more stories if that is the plan.

I received a copy through Netgalley, courtesy of the publisher, for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.

My rating 3.5 out of 5 stars


The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison : readalong, final week #wyrdandwonder, #TheGoblinEmperor


Today is the final week in the readalong for the Goblin Emperor and things are certainly hotting up.  This is part of the Wyrd and Wonder event taking place during the month of May.  The details of Wyrd and Wonder are here and the readalong details are here.  As always, beware of spoilers which will be lurking.

Here’s the reading schedule at a glance:

  • Week 1: Wednesday 6th May, Chapters 1 through 9
  • Week 2: Wednesday 13th May, Chapters 10 through 17 (end of part 2)
  • Week 3: Wednesday 20th May, Chapters 18 through 26 (part 3)
  • Week 4: Wednesday 27th May, Chapters 27 to End (part 4 & 5)

Lisa at DeerGeekPlace is hosting the readalong .  The questions will be posted weekly in  a Goodreads group page, and will also be tweeted out weekly from the @wyrdandwonder account using the hashtag #TheGoblinEmperor, as well as the standard #wyrdandwonder tag.  so without further ado – to the q&a

Let’s start with Maia’s grandfather! What do you think of the Avar, and his budding relationship with Maia?

I really enjoyed this aspect of this week’s reading.  It felt like they took almost shy steps to begin with but eventually their relationship developed so well and I can’t help thinking that will make such a huge difference in relationships with the goblins moving forward.  Avar was very easy to read – a real force of nature tupe character that swallows up page space as soon as he arrives on the scene.  And, finally, I loved that he left a small army contingent behind to look out for his grandson.  Sometimes actions speak louder than words.

Another plot against Maia is foiled… Were you surprised by the reveal of Tethimar as the one behind the late emperor’s murder? And what are your thoughts on this reveal, in light of the way this part of the story played out?

I wasn’t so much surprised by Tehimar’s involvement in the plot but I was surprised at his method.  It seemed a little crazy storming the dais with a knife – a death wish by any other name really.  In fact, I’d say the plots against Maia were probably, for me, the weakest part of the storyline.  I think I was expecting something with some thought or subtlety – that being said I guess Tethimar was driven a little crazy with hate.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m very, very happy that neither plot succeeded but I was a bit surprised at the weakness of both attempts.

For all of the enmity that’s shown to him, our emperor has a much more hopeful nickname by the end… Looking back, are you satisfied with/pleased by the way Maia handled all of these situations in which he had to make or break relationships? Was there anything you were left questioning or that you feel should have gone differently?

Maia is the absolute star of the piece.  I love the way his character has grown during the course of the book.  I love the way he handles himself, others and situations.  He is genuinely caring and even when he lacks confidence his interactions are a joy to read about.  He’s strong when you least expect it and also forgiving.  I can’t help but notice how everyone has warmed up to him, he even turned the ‘we can’t be friends’ issue on it’s head and found a compromise.  And I especially like the ending with the bridge analogy.  The bridge became something much more than a structure.  It helped Maia achieve confidence in himself, it demonstrated his progressive attitude to change and to listen and it also worked as a comparison with the bridges he was building with others.  Even when he acknowledged that he wasn’t able to build bridges with everyone.

I went into this read not really knowing what to expect and ended up loving this.  This is not a sweeping epic drama, it’s much more character focused and Maia is a great character to read about.  I can’t wait to see what comes next.

Thanks to Wyrd and Wonder for this fantastic month long love of everything fantasy and also to Lisa for hosting this readalong which definitely gave me the motivation I needed to pick this up.

The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison : readalong, week 3 #wyrdandwonder, #TheGoblinEmperor


Today is the third week in the readalong for the Goblin Emperor and things are certainly hotting up.  This is part of the Wyrd and Wonder event taking place during the month of May.  The details of Wyrd and Wonder are here and the readalong details are here.  As always, beware of spoilers which will be lurking and I hope you’ll join in with the discussion if this is a book you’ve already read.

Here’s the reading schedule at a glance:

  • Week 1: Wednesday 6th May, Chapters 1 through 9
  • Week 2: Wednesday 13th May, Chapters 10 through 17 (end of part 2)
  • Week 3: Wednesday 20th May, Chapters 18 through 26 (part 3)
  • Week 4: Wednesday 27th May, Chapters 27 to End (part 4 & 5)

Lisa at DeerGeekPlace is hosting the readalong .  The questions will be posted weekly in  a Goodreads group page, and will also be tweeted out weekly from the @wyrdandwonder account using the hashtag #TheGoblinEmperor, as well as the standard #wyrdandwonder tag.  so without further ado – to the q&a and don’t spare the horses:

These chapters open with a very candid, yet significantly warmer than most, conversation between Maia and Arbelan, and from there things begin to change as Maia learns to act with more confidence. Do you think Arbelan’s kinder treatment of him is what sparks this, and if so, how much of an impact do you think it had?

I enjoyed the chapters where Maia seems to be gradually becoming more confident and in particular his discussions with Arbelan and Idra.  What really comes across with all the interactions is how stiffly everyone seems to be at first (or at least almost everyone).  Everyone has a court ‘face’ and I can’t help thinking I would be so miserable in such a place, never knowing what people are really thinking, all the scheming behind the scenes.  Well, we know it’s a lonely existence so frankly whenever Maia tries to hold out an olive branch, and it’s well received, it’s a good moment.  Plus these new ‘friends’ are helping him to learn so much and are showing him that not everyone favoured the last emperor.

The river bridge scheme proves to be a delightful plot point to push a lot of character interaction forward, as well as opening up the scope of this world. Were you surprised by the developments involving Lord Pashavar?

I like the bridge storyline to be honest, it’s interesting and helps to show the split in Maia’s court.  Lord Pashavar being a fine example.  Maia seems to like Pashavar or more to the point respect him maybe?  The dinner and discussion they shared was quite revealing.  Again, it drove home the fact that not every action of the previous Emperor was thought well of.  He was stubborn and his advisors didn’t necessarily always agree with him. It was really interesting to find out a little bit more about the history of the place and it was also a little revealing in terms of Pashavar – who I don’t dislike, but feel he’s maybe very set in his ways and not very receptive to change, although maybe he can be persuaded by reasonable arguments?  Time will tell – of course the part of my brain that screams ‘trust nobody’ can’t help reading dark thoughts into why Pashavar is so set against the bridge scheme.

Like a train gathering steam, a great deal of plot drama happens here. Let’s talk about Shevean and Chavar. Were you surprised by their gambit? And how do you feel about the way it all played out (ie. Idra’s decision to put his foot down)?

This bit actually really surprised me tbh.  I guess it shouldn’t have, it was obvious that things were building up and would eventually just pop from the tension but I have to say I was really shocked at how quickly things happened and how quickly they were resolved.  I thought Chavar would have been a bit more cunning or thorough with his plotting.  I’m relieved he and Shevean have eventually shown their true colours although I can’t help thinking that this can’t be the end of the threat to Maia. It simply doesn’t feel ‘cunning’ enough.

We get another surprising turnaround from Ceredin, Maia’s intended empress-to-be, as well. What are your thoughts on her by the end of these chapters, compared to her initial impression?

I liked that she showed a little more of her own personality, I think I could like her very much.  Yes, this is an arranged marriage and she is carrying out her duty but I have hope for her and Maia.

The story, and perhaps the danger, is not quite over yet … any thoughts on what might be in store in the final chapters?

Well, there still feels to be quite a lot hanging in the balance.  Things are moving forward but there is a definite feeling of danger lurking.  One thing that struck me was Mer Celhar’s sudden disappearance.  He could have made an interesting discovery in his investigations or he could have been taken out of the picture because he’s getting too close to the truth?  I’m inclined to think the first explanation is the more likely and he’s rushed off to find something out or uncover some truths.  This also leads me to wondering who could have been involved in the explosion.  Is Chavar now out of that scenario or was this scheme just another part of the plan (a plan B) to put in place a young emperor who could be managed easily?  And there has been, suspiciously, no mention of Chavar’s son since the abdication attempt.  It concerns me.



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