The Witness for the Dead (The Goblin Emperor, Book 2)
By: Katherine Addison
My Rating: Three out of Five Stars
Best for: Advanced 14 and up
I’m a huge fan of The Goblin Emperor. You might be too, if you appreciate intricate drama, courtly intrigue, and micro-detailed world building. Check it out. But also watch out, because when I say micro-detail, I mean really, really micro. It’ll drive some of you nuts.
When I learned Katherine Addison was adding to the world of The Goblin Emperor with a new story called The Witness for the Dead, I got all excited the way only the nerdiest of book nerds can truly understand. I preordered my copy, put it on my calendar, and arranged my reading schedule so it would be open when the book landed on my Kindle. You know, just like everyone else does.
Right? RIGHT? Oh…
Whatever. I was excited, okay? The day arrived, my book schedule was clear, and I jumped right in. Here’s what I found.
The Witness for the Dead isn’t a sequel to The Goblin Emperor. It’s set in the same world, takes place just after the events of the previous book, and promotes a strong secondary character to main character. Like it’s predecessor, this book lives in an impressively detailed fantasy world of Elves and Goblins, complete with culture, religion, language, and politics. One challenge with Katherine Addison is that her world’s are AMAZING and rich in detail, and she’s obviously a world-class world builder–but she does all the building before she writes the books.
Inside of the books, the reader is thrown into the deep end of the world with no building at all, and in both The Goblin Emperor and The Witness for the Dead it was hard to keep up. For example, all the names, places, and titles follow a complex language, grammar, and syntax Katherine Addison invented–so SUPER COOL! But keeping up with all those unique names, places, and titles with out a legend or pronunciation guide was tough.
In The Goblin Emperor, it worked because the story was so engaging. In The Witness for the Dead, the story was must less engaging, even a bit meandering. Not awful, but not awesome, and I had a hard time enjoying it because I kept stepping on metaphorical Legos (impossible to remember names, titles, places). The effort it took to stay focused wasn’t equal to the pleasure of the outcome.
Was it the story of a kind and worthy man coming to grips with past mistakes and failed love? Was it a who-dun-it murder mystery? Was it about one man’s battle to do what’s right, no matter what? Yep. It was all of those. But it was all of those things just a little, and it was nothing a lot. At the end I felt like not much had changed from the beginning.
Enough with being a downer. There was a lot I loved in The Witness for the Dead. The world is fascinating, and Katherine Addison writes amazing characters. Aside for the complexity, there are no content concerns at all. I’m absolutely going to read the next one.
Best for advanced 14 and up.