Jim C. Hines’ Goblin Quest is pretty much your standard D&D adventure, told from the perspective of a goblin, Jig, who lives in the goblin camp on the first level of the dungeon, and gets caught up with a party of adventurers. This could be incredibly facile, but Hines adds enough depth to the characters to make up for the unsurprising inversion of the deliberate cliches. Nothing great, but good light summer paperback reading.

Hines’ Goblin Hero , the sequel, is more muddled. The problem is it focuses on two protagonists: The goblin from the first book, who’s now a hero and needs to become more than just a hero; and a wannabe-wizard goblin, who’s aching to follow the Hero’s Path (outlined for her in a book by “Josca,” in a way that should thrill devotees of Joseph Campbell — I’m looking at you, George Lucas and John Novak). Both of these protagonists have a story in them, but they’re not the same story, yet here they are, thrust together in the same plot. It ends up whipsawing back and forth between two fundamentally different things and never quite settles down. On the plus side, it is less cliched than the first book. I didn’t love it, but I’m interested enough to buy the sequel when it comes out.


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