The Witness for the Dead

(The Goblin Emperor #2)

Hardcover, 208 pages

Published Jan. 6, 2021 by Tor Books.

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4 stars (7 reviews)

A 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.

1 edition

fantasy noir?

4 stars

I quite enjoyed this, the story moves along, it's varied and intricately drawn with gritty details. I felt at times like i was reading Dashiell Hammett, but with ghouls and elves and goblins. i think some of the subtleties of the world Addison creates were lost on me because i haven't read the Goblin Emperor. (can't say i wasn't warned.) I liked the names and titles of the characters; they have a nice musical ring to them, but again, i felt a like i was in the deep end of the pool trying to keep all of them straight in my mind. I think it'd be worth reading again this after i read the GE.

a beautiful world to exist in

4 stars

This was one of those books that when it ended, I missed getting to be in the world. It has a kind of understated, slice-of-life feel, with a lot of detail and reverence paid to the minutia of daily life and community relationships, that felt more prominent to me than the murder mysteries. Addison writes with an immense amout of compassion and tenderness, and for me that is what makes this book, and The Goblin Emperor, transcend what they would be on their face, in terms of plot.

The writing style drops you into the cultural nuances of the society largely without explanation, and you can infer, for example, what different honorifics mean through context. I really really like this and I think overall its very well done, but I think it would be more daunting if I hadn't already read The Goblin Emperor, and there were some …

Revisiting a world

4 stars

I read The Goblin Emperor long enough ago that I really don't remember much about it (other than that I enjoyed it) but that didn't matter at all when reading this book. The world of this novel is well-described and interesting. I liked the main character and as he spends the book trying to solve several murders, we learn about the world and the people who inhabit it. I really enjoyed inhabiting the space for awhile.

Murder mystery with elves and goblins, and an opera!

4 stars

This novel doesn't follow the same character as The Goblin Emperor, but builds up that same world. It is a crime fiction in a fantasy setting and not a regular ole fantasy novel (you know, the ones that start with “Harry y'er a chosen one!”).

I really liked the main character, it made me think a lot of Robert van Gulik's Judge Dee or Ellis Peters' Brother Cadfael. He's a Witness For The Dead, as such he can “see” the last thoughts of the recently deceased, and he can fight ghuls. His “normal” cases relate mostly to ending inheritance disputes or finding tombstones, but sometimes, when an unknown, mysterious young woman washes up on the shore of the canal, he's called on to see what he can learn about her last moments… and if it shows that she was the victim of a murder, he's got to solve it. I …

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3 stars
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4 stars