Pros: Love the story of Jig!
Cons: Beginning stumbles
Rating: 4 out of 5
Goblin Quest, by Jim C. Hines (author of the awesome Princess Novels and the magnificent Magic Ex Libris series), is about a goblin named Jig. Poor Jig is a near-sighted runt of a goblin; he does children’s work and is bullied by the other goblins. It’s something of a mystery as to how he’s survived so long. His life changes when a group of adventurers enters the goblins’ cave system and impresses Jig as an unwilling guide. He gradually realizes some of the goblins’ failings–and some of their strengths, as well.
The beginning of the tale is clumsy; the adventurers certainly start out as cardboard stereotypes. However, the tale improves enough along the way that I can’t deduct much for that. It’s also a humorous tale, about a silly enough subject (fantasy-tale goblins, only as the main characters instead of antagonists), that it doesn’t detract as much as it otherwise would.
I absolutely love Jig as a character. He’s observant and shrewd in his own way, and spending time with the adventurers changes him. He starts to realize more fully both the failings and, occasionally, the unique strengths, of the goblins. It’s a fantastic gradual transformation. The lampooning of stereotyped fantasy settings is just so much fun:
Adventurers were like fleas. If you didn’t kill them right away, soon the blasted things were leaping into everything.
There are some fantastic bits of fantasy religion worldbuilding. I love the notion that a god who has more worshipers might be more powerful, but he also has to split his attention between so many people that a worshiper has trouble getting noticed. Whereas a less-popular god has more attention to give to individual followers.
I enjoyed Goblin Quest enough that I stayed up late to read it. The quality of the writing ramped up very nicely, and I loved the humor of it. I immediately moved on to the next book in the series.