I never know to say in these things. I guess that says something about me. I read a lot, write stories, and like books. I like a good debate. Nothing else is to say. :-)
I seem to enjoy politics just as much in fantasy novels...as a do in real life....except fantasy politics has fewer ulcers, and less moments where I want to break things across people's heads.
What I find amazing about this book, is that it pretty much takes place all in one location. There are no adventures to far of lands; or dragons to ride; or power hungry, raging Gods to stop, and no grand romance to swoon over...yet you are still pulled into the story and kept interested from start to finish. The drama is mainly internal and all from one character.
When we meet Maia, he is appears to be a meek/cowed boy of 18. He has lived with his abusive guardian in some far flung province from since the death of his mother when he was a boy of 8. He was sent there by his father the Emperor, who has no love for him because of his forced marriage to his goblin mother. When she dies, rather than see the boy, who reminds him of what he views as a mistake in his life, he sends him away and forgets him. By all Maia's imaginings, living his life in obscurity, with a drunk guardian that hates him, would be his life till he dies. but then fate steps in and his father and all of his brothers die in a tragic incident...leaving him the only living son of the last Emperor...and of course, now Emperor of all the Elf lands.
So we follow Maia as he enters a place he has no knowledge of, and has to deal people who only know him from the eyes of his late father and think he is nothing but a dimwitted "hobgoblin" they can manipulate and try to use for their own ends. He is full of doubt and fear and has little faith in his ability or people's view of him. And that is where the main drama comes from...himself. His struggle to figure out who is he is, to accept himself, to figure out what he is capable of, and what type of ruler he will be...and of course dodging some coup attempts. He is a fish out of water, but he proves that he has the ability to fake it, until he makes it.
I really did enjoy it the story, because as contained as it was, it never felt limited or claustrophobic. It slowed down a bit towards the very end, and became a bit...hmm Gary stuish? Which is why it did not rate a bit higher. BUT...throughout the majority of the read it held my attention and kept me very interested. I liked Maia and rooted for him, and saw his ability and strengths and goodness, the things that show he could be a good ruler, even if he never always saw them.