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Maia Drazhar/Edrehasivar VII
"We consider it cruel. And we do not think cruelty is ever just."
The titular Goblin Emperor, the eighteen-year-old half-goblin son of His Imperial Serenity Varenechibel the Fourth who ascends to the throne of Emperor of the Elflands following the death of Varenechibel and his three older half-brothers when the Wisdom of Choharo, an airship, crashes with all of them aboard.
- Abdicate the Throne: During a coup staged by the Lord Chancellor Uleris Chavar and Maia's sister-in-law Princess Sheveän, Maia is almost forced to do so in favor of his nephew Prince Idra. One of the major reasons the plan fails is Idra does not want the throne.
- A Birthday, Not a Break: It is on Maia's nineteenth birthday that Tethimar decides to make his move to assassinate him.
- Abusive Parents: Maia is neglected by his father for his whole life, his only memory of the man being a sneering remark of his father's against him that he overheard at his mother's funeral. His guardian after his loving mother's death was a cruel distant cousin Setheris who beat him and insulted him frequently. All of this had a notable effect on Maia's self-esteem.
- A Child Shall Lead Them: Although Maia's existence prevented a literal example of this in his fourteen-year-old nephew Idra, he himself functions as a downplayed example given that he is only eighteen, two years over the in-universe majority of sixteen. Early on, in chapter five, Maia himself lampshades it saying he feels "oppressed by the irony of being the youngest person in the room, and yet the person to whom all others were bowing".
- Adorkable: Throughout the book. Particularly notable when he becomes entranced by the model of the bridge that's to be built over Istandaärtha that is presented to the Corazhas.
- Babies Make Everything Better: Maia is on the backend of a rather cruel subversion of this trope. The marriage of Varenchibel and Princess Chenelo was a deeply unhappy one. Chenelo becoming pregnant with Maia on their wedding night only made things worse. Varenchibel made it clear that if she thought she could replace his last empresses Pazhiro, who suffered a Death by Childbirth and delivered a stillborn, she was deeply mistaken. Both Chenelo and the newborn baby Maia are sent away to a backwater estate of the crown as soon as they could travel.
- Child of Two Worlds: Due to being the son of a goblin princess and the elvish emperor.
- Half-Breed Discrimination: One of the many challenges Maia must face at Untheileneise Court.The title of the novel comes from Maia realizing that the Setheris and his ilk will be calling him such as a jab against his mix-heritage.
- Nice Guy: The nicest. It's what wins many people over once they realise he isn't covering for some scheme, he's just genuinely trying to be good to them with no ulterior motives.
- No Social Skills: Since Maia was raised in virtual isolation with only his abusive guardian and a handful of servants for any company, it is inevitable that he falls into this trope. He even states that Setheris punished him for talking too much. This puts him at a distinct disadvantage when he must interact with the glittering courtiers of the court.
- Physical Scars, Psychological Scars: Maia bears an ugly scrawl of scars on his left forearm from Setheris drunkenly knocking him into an elaborate fire screen when he was about fourteen. The scars represent all of Setheris' abuse against Maia not just the physical but, the verbal and emotional as well. This connection is made stronger by the scars being hidden beneath Maia's clothes just like the majority of people are unaware of Setheris' abuse.
- Scars Are Forever: In his own words, Maia will "bear until his dying day" an ugly scrawl of scars on his left forearm caused by Setheris' abuse.
- The Emperor: Maia is the Emperor of the Elflands.
- The Royal We: Maia uses it throughout the majority of the novel only dropping it in very personal moments such as when he comforts Prince Idra and his younger sisters following their mother's treason and subsequent imprisonment.
"I am Csevet Aisava, and I am entirely at Your Serenity's service."
The messenger who delivers the message of Varenchibel and his older heirs' death to Edonomee.Csevet becomes Maia's secretary after Maia arrives at court and proves invaluable due to his in-depth knowledge of the court and his instant Undying Loyalty to Maia.
- Attempted Rape: Csevet suffered this at Eshevis Tethimar's hands when he was in his teens. He bit him to escape his grasp and then was hunted by Tethimar and his friends. Luckily he was not caught.
- The Reliable One: Although Maia has a plethora of people who serve him, Csevet is the one who is with him from the beginning and who he relies on the most to function as Emperor.
- Undying Loyalty: Once in Maia's service nothing will stop Csevet from giving his best for his Emperor. It's also clear this loyalty is personal as much as dutiful.
" Do you doubt our word, Serenity?"
The Lord Chancellor of the Elflands.Chavar was deeply loyal to Maia's dead father but, he has no such feelings towards Maia. He loses his position, is exiled from court, and imprisoned after his failed coup against Maia.
- Evil Chancellor: His first action in the book is to try to take control of the Untheileneise Court away from Maia by scheduling the state funeral to take place before Maia's coronation. This attempt fails, and so does his later attempt at a coup.
- Lean and Mean: Inverted, Maia when he meets Chavar realizes that he was imagining a copy of his father who was a tall man with fine bone structure. Chavar, in reality, is short and stocky by elvish standards, though still very nasty.
One of Maia's First Nohecharei. A lieutenant of the Untheileneise Guard, he fulfills the role of the guardian of the body alongside Cala Athmaza, the guardian of the spirit. As is the case of all of Maia's Nohecharei, at Maia's coronation he swears an oath that he will guard Maia at all cost until Maia's death at which point his Nohecharei are to be buried will him. Beshelar is a somber and serious man who disapproves of Maia's actions frequently especially those he believes will put the emperor's life at unnecessary risk.
- Anger Born of Worry: Alongside many of Maia's devotees he does not approve of his plan to meet with the men and women responsible for the crash of the Wisdom of Choharo. Beshelar:If his Serenity would be sensible there would be no need to contain them.
- O.O.C. Is Serious Business: Beshelar is normally stoically restrained in his emotions even when disapproving. When he discovers how Setheris treated Maia his reserve slips completely and he roars "Monstrous!"
- Protectorate: Maia is his.
- Sarcastic Devotee: He disapproves of Maia's actions often but, takes his oath seriously from the beginning and later on his outrage at Maia's abuse at the hands of Setheris and his agreeing to be a "different kind" of friend to Maia prove his personal affection for his emperor.
- Undying Loyalty: To Maia, displayed well when he gets stabbed in the arm protecting Maia from an assassination attempt
One of Maia's First Nohecharei.An athmaza of the Adremaza, he fulfills the role of the guardian of the spirit alongside, Beshelar, the guardian of the body. As is the case of all of Maia's Nohehechair, at Maia's coronation he swears an oath that he will guard Maia at all cost until Maia's death at which point his Hohecharei are to be buried with him. Cala is less strictly formal than Beshelar but, is still aware of the divide between him and his emperor.
- Badass Bookworm
- Being Personal Isn't Professional: This causes him to tell Maia that he and Beshelar cannot be his friends. He, later on, agrees wholeheartedly to Maia's idea of being a" different kind" of friends and admits that he was never able to stop thinking of Maia as a kind of friend/.
- Protectorate: Maia is his.
- Undying Loyalty: To Maia, he tells Maia after Dazhis' betrayal that he could never imagine hurting him like that "even if it were not a matter of an oath".
- What Beautiful Eyes!: During their first meeting, Maia describes his pale blue eyes as being both gentle and the only beauty in his face.
"Serenity, we do not wish you to be frightened of us."
A twenty-two-year-old lady of the court. Dach'osmin Csethiro Ceredin is the grand-niece of Arbelan Drazharan, Varenechibel's first wife, and becomes Maia's fiancée. Csethiro is a woman who is accomplished with a scholarly bent. She is at least partially trained in swordplay.
- Arranged Marriage: Csethiro is arranged to be Maia's bride.
- Nice Girl: Though she is initially cold to Maia she reveals herself to be one. She even offers to teach him how to dance.
- Violently Protective Girlfriend: She is Maia's fiancée only through arrangement and it takes a while for any affection to blossom between them still, she tells Maia she wishes she could challenge Princess Sheveän to a duel to the death for her role in the attempted coup against him and she states that if Eshevis Tethimar, who attempted to assassinate Maia, was not already dead she would of "gutted him".
One of Maia's Second Nohecharei.An athmaza of the Adremaza, he fulfills the role of guardian of the spirit alongside, Telimezh, the guardian of the body. He assists with the attempted coup led by Princess Sheveän and Lord Chancellor Uleris Chavar against Maia and must commit revethvoran, ritual suicide, for his crimes. He is replaced by Kiru Athmaza.
- Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: He seems like a perfectly Nice Guy right up until he betrays Maia for the promise of being made the First Nohecharei of Idra.
- Bodyguard Betrayal: He is sworn to guard Maia but, ultimately attacks his fellow guard Telimezh and lets Maia be taken by Princess Sheveän's men .
- Protectorate: Maia is his or at least he was supposed to be.
- Seppuku: Commits the in-world variant of it,revethvoran,after his betrayal of Maia.
- The Oathbreaker: He breaks his oath as a nohecharei when he assists in the coup against Maia.
One of Maia's Second Nohecharei. A lieutenant of the Untheileneise Guard, he fulfills the role of the guardian of the body alongside Dazhis later Kiru Athmaza, the guardian of the spirit.
- My Greatest Failure: Blames himself deeply for not foreseeing Dazhis's betrayal. He is fully intended to resign his post as a nohecharis and leave the court entirely over it until Maia tells him he wants him to stay.
- Only One Name: Unlike Deret Beshelar, Telimezh is given no first name, not even in the index at the back of the novel.
- Protectorate: Maia is his.
"Do you truly find it so incredible that we should wish to serve you?"
One of Maia's Second Nohecharei.An athmaza of the Adremaza, she fulfills the role of guardian of the spirit alongside, Telimezh, the guardian of the body. She replaces Dazhis after his betrayal and ritual suicide.
A Witness for the Dead and kinsman of Csoru Drazharan, the fifth and final wife of Varenchibel the Fourth. He investigates the crash of the Wisdom of Choharo on Maia's behalf.
The first-born child and only son of Prince Nemolis Drazhar, the first-born son of Varenechibel the Fourth. He was to have become Emperor someday if not for the death of his father and grandfather in the crash of the Wisdom of Choharo.A boy of fourteen, he is more knowledgeable about court than his eighteen-year-old uncle, Maia Drazhar/Edrehasivar VII and many would prefer him to be emperor instead. Idra himself has no desire to be emperor
- Big Brother Instinct: Towards his younger sisters Mireän and Ino Drazhin.
- He also shows shades of this towards Maia, his uncle who is four years older, when he says Setheris had no right to tell Maia, a fourth son, that too many sons confuse the succession. Maia even notes that he says it with the same indignation with which he tells Maia that Mireän and Ino Drazhin had the right to be loved by their grandfather like he was.
- Spanner in the Works: His mother and Chaver had Maia at their mercy but then their coup on Idra's behalf fell apart as soon as Idra noted that he wanted no part of it.
- Wise Beyond His Years: By virtue of being raised at court as the son of the crown prince.
A member of the Corazhas, Eiru Berenar is the Witness for the Treasury. He becomes Lord Chancellor after Chavar's attempted coup and subsequent imprisonment.
- The Good Chancellor: Berenar becomes this by the end of the novel.