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Publisher's Summary

"At once intimate and literally operatic, it's everything I love about Katherine Addison's writing, in ways I didn't know to expect. I loved it." (John Scalzi)

Katherine Addison returns to the glittering world she created for her beloved novel, The Goblin Emperor, in this stand-alone sequel

When the young half-goblin emperor Maia sought to learn who had set the bombs that killed his father and half-brothers, he turned to an obscure resident of his father’s Court, a Prelate of Ulis and a Witness for the Dead. Thara Celehar found the truth, though it did him no good to discover it. He lost his place as a retainer of his cousin the former Empress, and made far too many enemies among the many factions vying for power in the new Court. The favor of the Emperor is a dangerous coin.

Now Celehar lives in the city of Amalo, far from the Court though not exactly in exile. He has not escaped from politics, but his position gives him the ability to serve the common people of the city, which is his preference. He lives modestly, but his decency and fundamental honesty will not permit him to live quietly. As a Witness for the Dead, he can, sometimes, speak to the recently dead: see the last thing they saw, know the last thought they had, experience the last thing they felt. It is his duty use that ability to resolve disputes, to ascertain the intent of the dead, to find the killers of the murdered.

Celehar’s skills now lead him out of the quiet and into a morass of treachery, murder, and injustice. No matter his own background with the imperial house, Celehar will stand with the commoners, and possibly find a light in the darkness.

Katherine Addison has created a fantastic world for these books - wide and deep and true.

A Macmillan Audio production from Tor Books

©2021 Katherine Addison (P)2021 Macmillan Audio

What listeners say about The Witness for the Dead

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

New delight

It took me a while to get into this new story but it is just as rich , charming and immersive as the Goblin Emperor. You feel like you really know this amazing different world where fascinating things happen. After the great narration of the first book, I was a bit disappointed in this narration. Although his command of different people speaking was excellent, the main character seemed less connected to the narrator. Lots of things happened o the main character but the narrator never really seemed to care.

8 people found this helpful

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Same feel, not as satisfying as Goblin Emperor

I’d been wanting to return to this world for years and am grateful for this book. It felt like that same embrace of kindness and competence. In that sense, it was equally enjoyable. The story, though, ended abruptly for me. More like spending a few days with a character than a clearly defined story.

The narrator does a fine job (although had to slow him down to 0.8-0.9x), but I missed McCarley’s outstanding performance from the first book.

I adore this type of gentle, warm fantasy read that I can always go back to for refuge. I’m so hoping for future books in this world, and also hopeful the original narrator could return for them.

7 people found this helpful

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A visit to a cherished world, if a bit lackluster

The Goblin Emperor was an inspired book, but seems to be the exception, not the rule. It’s nice to be back in this world, but between the narrator’s awkward new pronunciations, poor editing, and a major inconsistency that I won’t spoil- this isn’t the follow up I dreamed about. The main character doesn’t seem to be the Thara Celehar from the goblin emperor and his bland inner-voice hinders what could have been an enjoyable vignette. It seems like the author carried over some of the lazy writing that plagued the terrible angel of the crows book that was a near verbatim retelling of Sherlock Holmes. I think a 1/3 or the word count must be Celehar introducing himself- even the narrator seems tired of repeating the same phrase over and over- sometimes seconds apart. It’s too bad that they used a new narrator, as the consistency might have really helped this book. Overall it seems like the author gave her publisher something they had hounded her for, and did her best to ensure that the end result wouldn’t horribly offend fans yet would make sure they publisher didn’t ask for more.

6 people found this helpful

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Goblins, Ghosts, and Ghouls, oh my!

"My name is Thara Celehar, and I am a Witness for the Dead."

This becomes a very familiar refrain in the new book set in the world of the Goblin Emperor. Katherine Addison's original novel is perhaps the best thing I have ever read or audiobooked, and I was extremely excited to return to that world. I was not disappointed. While The Goblin Emperor is much more centered on history and politics, The Witness for the Dead is more like Sherlock Holmes, with a little bit of the supernatural thrown in. It follows Thara Celehar in his new job as the Witness for the Dead in the city of Amalo after leaving the service of Emperor Edrihasivar VII.

This book is only about half as long as The Goblin Emperor and is definitely a departure from the glittering Untheileneise Court. Othala Thara Celehar explores canals, opera houses, graveyards, and gambling dens in his efforts to solve several mysterious deaths in the city of Amalo. While magic was an element in The Goblin Emperor, this book delves more into the spiritual and supernatural beliefs of the elven/goblin world, expounding on the amazing world-building that Addison did so well in the first book.

Liam Gerrard as the narrator is not quite as brilliant as Kyle McCarley from the The Goblin Emperor; there is not as much distinction between his characters when they speak, and there are a few pronunciations from the first book that change with Liam's narration. But he does very well capturing the raspiness of Celehar's voice (luckily only when he's directly speaking, not the first-person narration), and he handles Addison's dry humor skillfully.

If you loved The Goblin Emperor, you will likely love The Witness for the Dead. If you have not read/listened to The Goblin Emperor (though you really should), you can still follow this book very easily. If you like excellent world-building, period dramas, or whodunnit mysteries, this book is definitely worth the money!

4 people found this helpful

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very good

so happy to have a continuation of stories in this world. i will admit that i enjoyed the reader for the goblin emporer better, but this reader isn't at all bad. Mer Celehar has a busy and trying life! I always liked him as a character and was pleased to find that this story is about him and right after the events of the first book rather than a completely unrelated story.

2 people found this helpful

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I NEED MORE!!!

Only 9 Chapters???
9 Amazing chapters! Aaaah, I wish it was longer but here again the author has painted a beautiful world full of mysterious fantasy, fantastic characters, and more depth to the world around them than I've seen in many other scifi novels! KEEP THEM COMING ADDISON!!!

1 person found this helpful

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Spellbinding and incredible!

the most amazing world building I've ever even heard of! Addison continues to drop us right into the middle of her fantastic worlds with no explanation and no annoying backstory, just lets us figure it out for ourselves! rich spirituality mixed with intriguing murder mysteries! the main character is so talented and compassionate yet painfully self deprecating as he pursues a serial killer when no one else cares. the narrator deftly navigates a broad range of accents and tones, male and female, sophisticated and uneducated. so highly recommended by this funeral director, a Witness for the Dead in my own rite.

1 person found this helpful

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Not nearly as good as Goblin Emperor

While the story takes place in the same fantasy world as the Goblin Emperor (which is wonderful), the story itself is much weaker. It’s mostly just little vignettes about the life of Thara Celehar as he goes about his business as a witness for the dead. There is an overarching mystery he seeks to unravel, and some of the vignettes are interesting, but the whole thing is told so matter of factly that there is no emotional involvement. We don’t really know any more about Celehar at the end of the book than we did at the beginning. The Goblin Emperor was a much more personal story, with many layers to it. By contrast, this book was just a plodding set of “Celehar goes here” and “Celehar goes there”.

Also, the narrator for this book was not quite as good as Goblin Emperor. He didn’t have quite the same range of voices and accents.

All in all, I was disappointed in this, after how much I really enjoyed Goblin Emperor. :-(

1 person found this helpful

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Rich and unique world building, engaging story

This author has incredible skill with world building. She manages to make believable, unique cultures and settings that surpass the crowded field of fantasy and steampunk stereotypes without resorting to lazy grimdark themes.

I loved getting to see more of this character, who was a side character in a previous book. It has the same quality as the other stories in this universe -- almost a slice of life while at the same time being about a supernatural monster hunting cleric. It combined the charm of a comedy of manners with the fun of a detective story without relying on cliches or becoming silly. It wasn't stressfully dramatic but I was always eager to hear what happened next. I can't wait for the next book in this universe!

The narrator for this book does a good job, though sometimes he sounds almost like he's voicing a nature documentary rather than reading a novel. I found it endearing rather than annoying though.

1 person found this helpful

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An incredible addition to the series!

Taking place in the same wonderful, magical and highly traditional world of "The Goblin Emperor" (TGE), "Witness for the Dead" (WFTD) show us the daily life of Thara Celehar, one of its most honourable and lawful characters, on his routine as a Witness for The Dead, a kind of state cleric/detective wich performs religious rituals and investigates murders using traditional techniques as well as... speaking with the dead (even if just briefly).

For fans of the Witcher 3, wich one can argue is the greatest detective game ever made, the book reads a lot like a Main Quest with a major murder-mystery and several sidequests wich get on the way of its progress but are nevertheless really interesting and flesh out the world established on the first book.*

A lot of the same themes touched upon on TGE appear again on this romance and we get a look on even more traditions and fantasy politics wich mirror real world problems of the 21st century. ai think my world view aligns a lot with the author and I really liked the way she masterfully handles topics such as homosexuality, feminism and other relevant topics.

Katherine Addison has a way of constructing characters that makes you really care about them (be it their personalities or actions) and it's simply joyful to spend time with them and see them achieving their goals.

Being totally honest, I liked the sidequests even more than the main story and since I love Celehar, I'd gladly follow his routine as a witness forever, wich makes me hopeful that we get another title on the future - especially one where he gets a much deserved happily ever after**.

The narrator is great, but sometimes there's a huge dissonance between his reading and Celehar actually speaking with his rough and at the same time kind voice, wich made the experience strike out in a good manner (it feels like you got out of Celehar's mind and into the world).

Reading TGE is obligatory to enjoy and understand everything about this one, but even though it's a different kind of story, I highly recommend it for fans.

*Seriously, there's even a sidequest with ghouls! If there was a lady with a missing pan I would have died laughing!
**He's an absolute treasure of a person that deserves to be happy.

1 person found this helpful