Hello everyone! How are you? And how are your reading going? Today I am here with something a little different from my usual reviews, and I hope it would not come out like a complete mess.
In May I have read, among the others, The Goblin Emperor (thanks Wyrd and Wonder for that!) and Saint’s Blood, and for a good part of the reading, I have read them together. That made me realize that these two books are deeply different, they made a good counterpoint to each other, even if, in some aspects, they are very similar. So I thought to try and do a sort of comparison post instead of a review. I cannot guarantee that this would be good but… let’s see what happens!
- Maia and Falcio. These two MC are one the opposite of the other. I think that, given enough time and patience, I could think of two characters that are more different, maybe, but it would be a tight thing.
Maia is the sweetest ever. He is a cinnamon bun, and you just want to cuddle him and comfort him because… aww! He has quite a positive view of the world and of the people. And this is not to say that he is naive, or that he hasn’t a lot of experience. Or that he has never lived something bad. Not at all. His past is not a happy one, that’s for sure, but he tries to see the best in people and in the world around him. And he can feel mercy. And forgiveness. He tries his hardest to not be mean, to not be cruel. He tries with all his might to be just, and considerate. He has his duty, sure, but he tries to put people at the top of his priorities. And he is fighting to find his place in the new world he was thrown in.
Falcio, well… I have to admit that sometimes I feel the need to comfort him, too, but he is a hardened man, he has a mission and he is quite committed to it. He is good, sure, but he is more a morally gray character. And he cares, yes, but he is way more cynic, way more hardened by the life and the world, he is disenchanted and disappointed by the world. And sometimes you can feel all the weight of this disenchantment. And it hurts. It hurts so much.
Also, he is totally capable to feel hate, rage, wrath. And he takes action upon those feelings. He reacts in rage, he reacts in hurt, he reacts with passion, sometimes, and sometimes he reacts with disappointment. But rarely he is moved by mercy (and if you have read this book you know how this is a sore point, here!) or by piety.
- Maia acts, Falcio reacts. It may seem a stupid thing, especially if you think of those books as a whole. Because in The Goblin Emperor we have an MC who acts, but we have not so much action. It is a quiet book, in a lot of ways. And I am not saying this as a bad thing. I don’t want you to think that this was a boring reading, or too slow. Nothing at all. But there is not so much action. While in Saint’s Blood, which is a book full of action, we have an MC who mainly reacts. Strange, right?
- The authors’ disposition. While you are reading this book you can feel, in some ways, that Addison’s love Maia (or so it seemed to me), for the general atmosphere, or for something else entirely, I cannot say. But it seems like De Castell hates Falcio. I know that this is not true, but while I was reading that book I always asked “What have ever done Falcio to deserve this?” or “Really? Do you (author) hate him or what??”. I know that this is not true, but it seems like one of them is beloved by his author, and the other is hated by him. Poor, poor Falcio.
- Allies vs. Enemies. Ok, this was quite vague, sorry. But the thing is that, since the vast differences between our two MC, Maia finds unexpected kindness and allies, he doesn’t become the most loved and cherished emperor, and he doesn’t conquer the love of all his nobles, but since he tries so hard to be a good person, you see the people around him doing their best, too. And sometimes this can result in unexpected allies.
Falcio is all the opposite. Everyone is his enemy. Ok, I am exaggerating. But just a bit! Outside his group, it seems like everyone hates him. Really! And you hurt for him, too because how it is possible?? I mean, Falcio is not a Saint, and he is not a sweet person, that’s true, but he is not the devil incarnate! Come on!
- Friends of the MCs. At the beginning of the story, we have Maia practically alone in a foreign place. He has no friends, no real family and no one to trust. But he has a great personality, he is caring, he is real and true to himself, and he tries to be just and good. He really tries to be a good person and a good emperor. And slowly he began to find friends. But he is emperor, and it is not easy to have friends. The situation is really complicated, and we have a cast of characters that are “possible” friends. But this is a peculiar and strange situation, and all the characters act accordingly.
Falcio, on the other hand, even if I think he is the most hated person alive in his world, has some great friends. Kest and Brasti are simply the best. And they deserve to be at the center of the story, right there with Falcio. Their friendship is one of the best ever. And they are pretty amazing characters on their own.
- The kind of book. As I was saying before, those two books are very different not only for their main character but for the kind of story we find. The Goblin Emperor is more intimate, in some ways, and I think it could be considered a sort of slice of life fantasy. We follow Maia in his path to become a good emperor and to find his place in his new world. And we see him grow and become the man he was meant to be. It is a slow book, and even if this is not really true, it seems like it doesn’t happen much in there.
Saint’s Blood is a fast-paced book, with action, fights, plots, intrigues, and the end of the world on the plate. It happens a lot, and you can never really take a breath.
- Optimistic vs Cynic. Addison’s book is a very hopeful book, and it is full of optimism. And this is not to say that Maia has it easy, or that nothing bad happens, not at all. But the atmosphere, the spirit of the book is a positive one, there is hope (I think that one of the words that better describe this book is hopeful) and there is a sense of… contentment in it.
Quite the opposite of De Castell’s book. More often than not, our characters go on not because of hope but out of sheer stubbornness. There is no hope left in this world, and time and again Falcio, Kest and Brasti ask themselves why they are so invested saving this world when the world so obviously doesn’t care. Or worst even, when the world doesn’t want to be saved. If Maia makes you hope and lift your spirit, Falcio & Co. make you despair.
- The Feelings. Those two books make you feel. A lot. You would find yourself sitting there, hugging the book and feeling so hurt or so happy for the protagonist. You would want to hug him. To console him, and to say that all would be good. Falcio or Maia is the same. You would want to be there for them both. And those books would hurt you and would make you happy, too. In both cases, they would make you feel.
- Politics. Both this book has a lot of politics and intrigues going on. It is the fundamental of them, in some sense. And in both of them, you would have a court, and nobles. Some of them good, and some of them really annoying. But you would have politics everywhere!
- MC who are doing what they are supposed to do. It may seem a strange thing to say, but we often see in books characters that are something (noble, king, prince, farmer, princess, thief, and so on….) but that in reality are something else (the farmer who is a prince, the thief who was a rich girl…) or that they feel constricted by their role and so act like they are something different. It is not uncommon. But here we see a new emperor who tries to learn how to be emperor, and who doesn’t start gallivanting in the empire, he stay in the palace and take part to boring meeting with his court, he goes to the dinners with his nobles, he writes and receives a ton of letters, and he tries to keep his palace and his empire afloat.
Falcio, on the other end, is quite the opposite of Maia, if we are speaking of roles. He is First Cantor of the Greatcoats. And he takes his role seriously. Deadly so. He is not easily swayed, and even if the world doesn’t care for his mission, and tries to stop it at every turn, Falcio keeps going with his mission. He is the epitome of a man on a mission. And nothing and no one can stop him.
And even if this seems a difference, because they are quite different, yes, they both are doing exactly what they are supposed to do. And it is, in some ways, refreshing.
- They are so real. These two books are one the opposite of the other but… but both of them are just so real that hurts. All the characters are plausible, relatable and complex. They are human. They feel like real people. They feel like friends to you. And it is not only about the characters. It is about the way in which they portrait the world. Their point of view is, again, opposite, but they recreate the real world, even if they are fantasy books. And yes, we have orcs, Saints, and whatever, but it could be our world anyway. And you know that when this happens, you have found an author to keep because he/she is a master in his/her trade.
- They both would take your heart away with them. There is no solution. They would make you feel, they make you smile, laugh and have fun, they move you, they would make you cry, and they would make you mad. And they would feel just so real to you, that the characters would be like old friends, and they both would conquer a place in your heart.
Wow! That was quite a long post! If you have read all of that… thank you! I don’t know if I managed to make justice to these two masterpiece, and I don’t know if this kind of review (sort of) was a good idea or the worst ever, but I hope that at least a bit of my love for them is here, and I hope you enjoyed the experiment!
What do you think? Have you read those books? Are you planning to read them? And what do you think of this kind of post? Let me know!