The Witness for the Dead by Katherine Addison
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
The description for this book is "The Goblin Emperor #2", which I suppose some canny PR person wrote to lure readers in, but it's more than a bit misleading. This book is not about Maia Drazhar, the protagonist of The Goblin Emperor. He is barely mentioned in this story, and we see nothing of how he is doing. Instead, the focus is on a minor character from the first book (so minor I don't even remember him), Thara Celehar, the Witness for the Dead.
This book is kind of difficult to review, and it was difficult to read as well. Not because stuff doesn't happen--Thara solves a couple of murders, hunts down a serial killer, and dispatches a ghoul. (He also drinks a lot of tea--tea is almost a secondary protagonist in its own right--and listens to a lot of opera.) That part is fine, and what seems to be two unrelated murder cases come together in the end (even if the resolution is a bit pat). I guess my biggest problem with this book is Thara as a character. He's not quite two-dimensional, but he is flat. Even though the book is told in the first person, there seems to be a deliberate distance between the reader and the protagonist, and Thara states flat-out that he prefers to talk to the dead rather than the living. I saw someone mention (and I'll be hanged if I can remember who it was now) that Thara is the portrait of an autistic person in a hierarchal society, and there might be something to that.
We do learn quite a bit more about the society as a whole, and there is far more magic in this book than the first. That's fine, but I would far rather have had this book live up to its billing, and be the actual sequel to The Goblin Emperor.
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