by Jim C. Hines
Review by Paul Haggerty
DAW Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 0756404002
Date: 07 November, 2006 List Price $6.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
Jig starts out his day relighting the lamps that provide illumination for the cavern where the goblin tribe lives. This is a task normally given to the children, and once you got to be Jig's age, you should be a warrior; brave, strong, fearless, and brainless. And Jig is lacking in just about all those qualities. Unfortunately, goblins are also mean spirited, spiteful, and live to cause misery to those weaker than themselves. And Jig just happens to qualify admirably in the weakness category. Which is why he find it particularly bad news when a warband decides that Jig is just the warrior to fill out their ranks. In this case, they need a scout. In goblin terms scout can be translated into: "The one that screams loudly while being disemboweled by the enemy and therefore gives the rest of the band a few seconds of warning." Well Jig is smarter than the average goblin, and doesn't have any intention of using his intestines as part of the Emergency Broadcast System. He intends to take it slow and easy, checking each step and corridor so that he won't run into anything dangerous. In fact he's so smart that he's half way through puzzling out a complicated scheme of survival and revenge on those idiot warriors when he absentmindedly walks into the band of adventurers.
Goblin Quest is a multipart story. Part quest, part satire, the book pokes fun at traditional swords and sorcery tropes while at the same time being one heck of a good story. Jig, as a goblin, plays the ultimate anti-hero. As a goblin he's suppose to be the villain, and yet the four adventurers; the prince, his dwarven advisor, his wizardly brother, and the elven thief they happened to press into service, don't make a very good impression. Well except for Riana, the elf. She's more a pathetic creature, a member of one of the "noble" races, and yet forced to serve against her will. Together they've journeyed below ground to find an ancient artifact used in the creation of the world. And despite all evidence to the contrary they assume that Jig must know where it is and how to get there. Of course, as a goblin, Jig has spent what little time he's had outside the home cavern trying to stay in the safe passages and avoid the hobgoblins, lizard fish, and giant carrion worms. Dragons, legendary necromancers, and ancient artifacts are totally out of the sphere of things he'd ever want to have anything to do with. Unfortunately for him, if he can't lead them to where they want to go, that means his usefulness will be at an end. And a useless goblin around adventurers can only mean one thing; and it never turns out good for the goblin.
Goblin Quest is a fun enjoyable read. Role reversal and jibes at the genre make Jig not only a sympathetic character, but seemingly the only sane one there for the reader to identify with. Of course if you read this book and drive your spouse into fits of annoyance listening to you snort and giggle at the absurdity the author continually throws at poor Jig, don't blame me. I merely said it was a great book.