Maia is the exiled son of the Elven Emperor. He's grown up in exile - a dismal estate in the far side of nowhere, with only his abusive cousin for company. Forbidden the luxuries of court or the love of his father, Maia enters adulthood a self-composed, introverted young man, defined more by his losses (especially that of his mother) than his privileged position.
And that position changes - dramatically. An airship accident kills the Emperor and his immediate heirs. All of a sudden, Maia isn't just recalled to court - he is the court. Despite his lack of training and his uncertain background and his half-Goblin heritage, Maia's now the center of the civilised world.
Maia quickly discovers that just becoming Emperor doesn't mean the end to his troubles. The Empire isn't an entirely happy place, the various nobles are grumpy, his Chancellor is playing politics, his grandfather - the king of the Goblins - is suddenly paying attention and, oh - his dad was assassinated. Maia's very existence, much less his political presence, is extremely inconvenient to everyone. Will he make a decent monarch? Or will he even make it to his next birthday? It is up to this suspiciously spiffy young man to change the course of the world.
The politics are wily, complicated (but not overly so) and a lot of fun. There are scheming nobles and conflicting plots and factions and etiquette and arranged marriages and all sorts of entertaining problems to keep Maia occupied. He's a - very - liberal sort of young man, so, generally speaking, he gets through things by contemplating all the possibilities and then choosing The Right Thing, generally upsetting his advisors in the process.