Friday, July 10, 2009

Review: Goblin Quest

I just finished reading the book "Goblin Quest" by Jim C. Hines. Overall, this was a book that I enjoyed. it is an older book, but one that I just happened to come across at the bookstore as I looked for new books from authors I hadn't read before.

The attraction of the book: 1) I have a cat named Goblin, for which the title drew me in, and then 2) a little blue goblin with a small knife no bigger than his hand facing down a dragon.

The story is told from the perspective of Jig, who is a puny runt of a goblin who has never been able to move beyond the chores assigned to younger goblins and has never been out on patrol. One day, he finally gets his chance, even if it is just so that the other goblins in the patrol can have a good time and not have to worry about routine patrol. Unfortunately, the patrol is anything but routine as he stumbles upon a group of adventurers who are on a quest to find the Rod of Creation, a powerful magical device. The group ends up taking him prisoner, assuming he can help them navigate the tunnels and lead them to the Rod, while at the same time killing the other goblins who were on patrol.

The members of the adventure party aren't what you'd expect to find in a normal adventure epic--you have Barius, an arrogant prince who is out to prove himself to his family after feeling like he has been overshadowed by his other siblings; Ryslind, the prince's younger brother and the group's wizard--but there's something not quite right about with his mind; Darnak the dwarf, who can yield his weapons greatly and also the mapmaker on the quest, though he is a bit overzealous in his religious knowledge; and Riana, the outcast elven teen-aged thief, herself caught by Barius as she tried to rob him and then forced to come along on their little adventure. As the ragtag group makes its way through the tunnels of the mountain, the story feels very much like a Dungeons & Dragons-type adventure, with a group of teenagers playing the various characters with all of their shortcomings, as they battle many of the monsters that one would tend to find in a classic Dungeons & Dragons campaign--hobgoblins, carrion warms, animated skeletons, giant bats, a necromancer, ogres, and eventually a dragon itself.

Since I remember playing Dungeons & Dragons in my youth, I considered this to be a good read and brought back the memories of many such games and adventures. The cover of the book claimed that it was the "one of the funniest dungeon-delving epics ever!" That may be true, given the mismatched characters involved, and the conclusion of the book was cleverly worked out. That said, it wasn't a hilarious book along the lines of Tom Holt or Robert Asprin or Douglas Adams, though it really did not take itself too seriously, and after reading this book by Jim Hines, I found myself thinking of this author as one of my favorites and put him in the same category as those mentioned above as my favorites. The book had its moments, especially near the end, after the dragon had been defeated. None of the games I played growing up ended quite like this little adventure ended.

Goblin Quest is the first of a trilogy, of which I will be sure to pick up the other two books.