Maia, least favorite son of the Emperor King, is thrust upon the throne when his father and brothers are all killed in an airship crash. As Maia is a half-breed (his mother is goblin) he grew up in a rural house with a terribly mean cousin as his guardian, only seeing his father from afar on formal occasions. Maia must learn to rule, form alliances, discover the sycophants, and secure peace and progress for his kingdom.

Despite all the trespasses Maia has experienced, and the unhappiness he now faces as emperor, he strives to be a fair and decent person. He is unmistakably a moral hero, easy to relate to and root for. It’s a pleasure to see Maia grow, learn, and succeed as he navigates the intricate and weighted decisions he now faces daily.

The world building is detailed and tangible, complete with palaces, clockmakers, airships, but I find myself disappointed with the lack of magic. Addison also creates her own linguistic structure that supports and enhances the world building. Use of the royal “we” as opposed to the informal “I” mistakenly used by Maia on several occasions effortlessly displays the formality and rules of courtly life.

Be prepared for difficult names that blur into one another, and a subtle plot that moves very slowly for a typical fantasy coming of age story. Recommended for fans of steam punk and courtly politics.

‘Serenity?’ Cala’s voice, Cala’s angular shape outlined against the window.

‘Tis an ironic title, in sooth,’ Maia said feebly, realizing that the entangling garments of the nightmare were merely his bedsheets. His heart was hammering, and he was clammy with sweat.