Goblin Quest is a semi-parodic adventure novel by Jim C. Hines. The goblin Jig gets taken captive by adventurers to be their guide in their quest to retrieve the Rod of Creation. The problem is that Jig doesn’t know where it is.
1—Poking Fun at Adventuring
When I say that Goblin Quest is semi-parodic, I mean that it pokes fun of the absurdities of adventure novels and Dungeons & Dragons type quests, but also that it fully works as an adventure. There’s a Necromancer, a Dragon, and plenty of monsters—though as the story is told from the point of view of one of “monsters” the term becomes a subject of debate, if only in Jig’s mind.
Jig is what tvtropes would describes as a Classical Antihero. He’s a coward (bravery being a good way to get killed), he has no honor (this also being a good way to get killed), and absolutely no fighting ability. He’s skinny and almost blind. And let us not forget, he’s a goblin, one of the minor monsters to be mowed down by the dozen by adventurers.
The only things Jig has going for him are his pet fire-spider, Smudge, and his wits. Jig’s smarter than the average goblin, which still doesn’t exactly make him a genius. But it’s precisely Jig’s underdog status that makes me root for him.
Mr. Hines does a good job of weaving in the backstory of the whole party—Prince Barius, and his brother the wizard Ryslind; their more-or-less babysitter, the dwarf cleric Darnak; and the captured and blackmailed elven thief Riana. They’ve all got differing motivations for taking on this quest, some which I can’t get into without major spoilers—and while I’ll spoil some things, I do try to avoid the big ones.
I had a lot of fun with this book. It’s poignant at times—not only what measure is a monster, but who has the right to survive? But it never gets so heavy it depresses me. If you’d be into a good adventure novel that points out the absurdities of adventuring, then pick this up.