The Goblin Emperor is one of those few novels that makes me regret giving out five-star ratings to so many things that I’ve read, because it doesn’t let me adequately express how much I enjoyed this masterpiece. It came highly recommended by the /r/fantasy subreddit, and it did not disappoint in any way. Maia makes a wonderful protagonist, newly and quite unexpectedly made Emperor after a tragic airship disaster killed his father and three older brothers. He is quite unprepared for this turn of events, uneducated about courtly matters or how to rule a country, and needs to learn all of these things immediately.
A dark gaslamp fantasy with a unique world and twelve original races, each with its own god, The Thirteenth Hour is worth reading just for its premise and setting. But its characters and plot more than do it justice too, as it follows co-protagonists Kayl and Quen through a reluctant partnership to solve a case that begins as a simple murder mystery and turns into something much, much bigger.
I don’t think it was possible for this series to fully live up to the standard set by book 1, and it didn’t, but by no means does that make the next two books unentertaining or low quality. Book 3 falls off a bit more even more than book 2 did, but it’s still a very fun, fast-paced adventure story set in an vivid steampunk world with a deep lore and cool magic system.
In short, A Labyrinth of Scions and Sorcery is a very satisfying continuation of the trilogy, much more so than I was expecting or hoping for, after such an excellent and well-self-contained book 1. It’s definitely worth continuing the trilogy for more of what An Alchemy of Masques and Mirrors had to offer!
Speaking of the story, this story is incredible. Once we’ve established our very cool characters, setting, and magic, we’re caught up in a non-stop whirlwind of political intrigue with twists and turns and then more twists and turns, followed by some surprises, then additional shocking events (I’ll have you know that I predicted exactly one of them*). The plot is seriously non-stop with no room to breathe whatsoever. I LOVED IT! However, if that doesn’t sound enjoyable, you’ll totally hate this book. Stay away from it; there’ll be nothing enjoyable about it for you. But my god, I loved it.