~by Jim C. Hines
After finishing Jim C. Hines's Goblin Quest, I was excited to read the next book in the series, Goblin Hero. Particularly, I was interested in seeing how Hines would continue Jig's adventures since the first book felt more like a one-shot deal rather than the beginning of a trilogy. Plus, I thought Goblin Quest was hilarious and I was looking forward to more trope-bending fun from Goblin Hero. It's not necessary to have read the first book to enjoy the second--both stand alone very well, even if Goblin Hero makes reference to events that took place in Goblin Quest.
The evil dragon as been slain, the caves and tunnels have been safely sealed away from adventuring parties, and peace has been established, more or less, between the races living in and under the mountain; all thanks to a runt of a goblin named Jig, now more commonly known as Jig Dragonslayer. Not that it has really made his life much easier, though he doesn't get picked on quite so much. He really just wants to be left alone, but when the ogres are desperate for his help, he as little choice but to go off on a adventure once again. Along with his god Tymalous Shadowstar, he is aided by Braf (exceptionally dumb, even by goblin standards) and Grell (probably the oldest goblin living). Of course, both of them have instructions to kill him if they get a chance. And then there's Veka, obsessed with magic and becoming a hero in her own right, who's out to make a name for herself with Slash, a hobgoblin who faints at the sight of blood, reluctantly in tow.
It actually took me quite a while to really get into Goblin Hero. I was enjoying it well enough, but it didn't really grab me until I was well over a third of the way through. The humor was at times was even subtler than that in Goblin Quest while at other times it was too obvious. Maybe part of the problem was that if felt like Hines was trying to justify it by using Veka and her obsession with the "hero's quest" to point out just exactly what it was he was making fun of. Regardless, it was still very amusing and silly. Like in Goblin Quest, some of the action sequences were a little unclear, but fortunately to a much lesser extent. Most of the areas explored were from the first book but there are some important additions--ewww. Readers also get a better look at the other major races that were only really mentioned in passing before, particularly the ogres and hobgoblins. Where Goblin Hero really shines is in its characters and the clever twists on fairly standard fantasy tropes. It's marvelous to see such a misfit group of creatures band together, save the day, and even manage to survive. And they don't even like each other that much. The story is told from both Jig's and Veka's point of view, so it is interesting to see both of their perspectives on the situation and on each other.
I wasn't quite as taken with Goblin Hero as I was with Goblin Quest, which is not to say that I didn't enjoy the book, because I most certainly did. It made for excellent light reading in all its silliness. While I didn't find the humor as laugh-out-loud as I did in the first book, I was still greatly amused. Jig and Smudge remain wonderful characters that I will always be fond of, Tymalous Shadowstar continues to make me grin, and I liked the other characters that were introduced in Goblin Hero quite a bit. I'm not in a huge hurry to pick up the last book, Goblin War, but I will definitely get around to it. (It's supposed to be the best of all three.) I'll probably even make a point to check out some of Hines's short stories featuring Jig and the others.