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Goblin Hero
Jim C. Hines
DAW, 352 pages

Goblin Hero
Jim C. Hines
Jim C. Hines began writing in the early 90s, while working on a degree in psychology from Michigan State University. His first professional sale was the award-winning "Blade of the Bunny," which took first place in the 1998 Writers of the Future competition and was published in Writers of the Future XV. His first published fantasy novel was Goblin Quest. He lives in mid-Michigan with his wife and children.

Jim C. Hines Website
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Past Feature Reviews
A review by Sherwood Smith

Okay, so there's a call out for a great hero to come and do some vastly needed heroic deed-work. What have you got?

A small, runty goblin who is nearsighted, haunted by a minor and totally forgotten god (and thus his so-called Powerful Magic is not only severely limited, but intermittent at that), whose only friend is a spider.

A big, bone-headed goblin named Braf whose personality is... well, put it this way: if he heard that his name sounds like 'barf,' he would be chuckling over and repeating that wit for all of the 343 pages.

A fat, whiny goblin named Veka who is a reject even in the goblin world. On getting ahold of a how-to-be-a-hero manual, she is determined she's going to Show Everyone.

A wizened, crabby, nasty old goblin named Grell who used to diaper goblin brats until she hoisted herself up on her crutches in order to kill the aforesaid runty goblin. Even if she has to go into dragon caves to do it.

...and assorted hobgoblins, ogres, dragons, snakes, and other monsters -- all of whom share one growing fear: the pixies.

Jig, our hero, is the runty goblin. He just wants to be left alone. Everyone else has motives for going on this quest that are not even remotely related to Right, Truth, the Path of Peace, or even Rank & Riches. Yet they have to band together, figure out how to cooperate despite their reasonable instincts to run, fight dirty, and betray everyone in sight when faced with danger.

Jim C. Hines crams the narrative with great visual and verbal jokes. If your Inner Kid still likes physical humor and gross stuff, you'll be laughing out loud as frequently as I did. But Hines doesn't confine himself to setting the characters up for bodily fluids splats, pratfalls, and nostril-probing expeditions. Such fantasy tends to run real thin even for hardcore cases (like most of my eighth graders) who never tire of fart jokes. Hines skillfully makes these characters sympathetic by getting inside their heads and then staying true to their paradigm. In their world, they are right, and reasonable. They are quite aware that handsome human adventurers want to kill them on sight, high and puissant types like elves utterly despise them, and everyone else is after their chitlins, and not in a good way.

Hines makes us like the characters, so their stakes feel real. They matter to us. The stakes get spidier as the doughty adventurers discover what's behind all the mysterious killings, and the tension ratchets up. That's not easily done in funny fantasy. Hines manages it with skill and panache. Without forgetting his nose pick.

Rumor has it there'll be a third Jig adventure. I sure hope so -- I closed this book hoping for more visits from Jig and his world.

Copyright © 2007 Sherwood Smith

Sherwood Smith is a writer by vocation and reader by avocation. Her webpage is at

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