The Witness for the Dead
June 24, 2021 8:23 AM - by Addison, Katherine - Subscribe

Thara Celahar (the same prelate of Ulis who investigated the death of the emperor Maia’s father in Katherine Addison’s previous book The Goblin King) is back as the protagonist of this lovely read by Katherine Addison.

Thara Celahar is living in the town of Amalo and trying to avoid being dragged into local politics and power plays while Speaking for the Dead. This is a lovely book about a shy, slightly impoverished, empathetic man full of dogged integrity. A nice read and a little surprising.
posted by gt2 (11 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
This is the same world as the world in The Goblin King but the genre is actually different. I was surprised at first that Celahar is the main character but then I realized that in The Goblin King, he had a lot of emotional complexity going on.
posted by gt2 at 8:35 AM on June 24, 2021 [1 favorite]

I really liked the combination of mystery, fantasy, and politics, and wish that there were more books in this vein. The characters are great too.

(The first book is The Goblin Emperor, rather than The Goblin King.)
posted by scorbet at 9:05 AM on June 24, 2021 [3 favorites]

Wow, major brain freeze. Thanks for correcting the title.
posted by gt2 at 9:12 AM on June 24, 2021

I just finished reading that, and I enjoyed it enormously. These novels are just such great examples of good stories about good people.

Although I do hope they find all the other victims of that horrible murderer.
posted by suelac at 3:35 PM on June 26, 2021

I enjoyed this book but felt the mysteries were a little underdeveloped and we didn't quite get Celahar the emotional growth he deserved.
posted by jeather at 3:50 PM on June 26, 2021 [1 favorite]

I really enjoyed this book; reading about a man who is striving to be kind and empathetic to everyone he meets, the toll that it takes to do that, and how his integrity both helps him and hurts him in equal measure was...nice. The mysteries, the accident, and the side trip to the village with the ghoul were the vehicle for showing us who Celahar is and how he works - Celahar got to the answers through dogged persistence, consistency, and by being willing to do the difficult, but right, thing. And at the end, the reward is that we know Celahar has made himself a home - he has friends and supporters, even if he is (I think) largely unaware of the impact he has had on the people he has met through his travels and travails.

I would have liked more politics, but thats what the Goblin Emperor is for I guess - but its interesting to me that both books are really about men striving to be good, and what it means to be good, in a world that is complex and full of grey.
posted by nubs at 2:46 PM on August 10, 2021 [3 favorites]

My only disappointment in this was that it was about half as long as it should have been; the return to the Opera plot in the third act could have been given much more time, he could have had to deal with one more supernatural monster, and there could have been easily five more teatimes before any of this got old. This book is a vibe. In the Goblin Emperor, Celahar very much felt like the protagonist of another story wandering through that one, and I really liked this both as its own thing and as more time spent in that world.

One thought I had while reading was, "This is, far and away, the best book I have read as an adult with this many made up words in it."
posted by Rinku at 11:23 AM on November 10, 2021 [1 favorite]

This gave me serious Connie Willis vibes! Kind of soothing to sink into the minutiae of Celehar's life. He's not quite as tortured as the emperor so it didn't have as much of a reward in the end, and I agree - it should have been twice as long. I like that there's a hint of a connection at the end, just as in The Goblin Emperor, rather than an all-out romance.
posted by Isingthebodyelectric at 11:09 AM on December 20, 2021

This book had such a different vibe from Goblin Emperor despite being the same universe. I missed the coming-of-age piece that Goblin Emperor had but I would read a long series of fantasy detective novels, it turns out.

I just love this author. Based on these two books, Addison has such a fantastically complete world that she's built.

Also, I listened to this on audio and the narrator made the weird names and ranks hardly noticeable- no barrier at all, in fact. I think I would have found them harder to read than to listen to, despite decades of reading Russian novels.
posted by small_ruminant at 9:45 PM on May 19, 2022

Also, she appears to have a new book coming out NEXT MONTH that's completely not mentioned on her webpage!

The Grief of Stones comes out June 22nd.

posted by small_ruminant at 3:36 PM on May 20, 2022 [2 favorites]

Have just read this and enjoyed it, though struggled with the names and with unpicking - or failing to unpick - some of the worldbuilding around the different sects. I liked the episodic nature. And the references to finding one’s way around the city. Looking forward to the next.
posted by paduasoy at 12:57 PM on June 27, 2022

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