Somehow I’ve ended up reading all of Jim C. Hines’s series in reverse publication order. Jig the Goblin is the last series of his I have to read, and the first published. It’s definitely not as polished or witty as I found his later books, and perhaps I’m missing something because I don’t play Dungeons & Dragons, but it was a fun time anyway. Having read a shit ton of fantasy in my day, I felt I could still appreciate it.
Plus, I get to see the origins of Smudge the fire spider! (He is also a character in the Libriomancer books, because the main character of that series has the power to reach into books and pull things and beings out, and he reaches into this series and pulls out Smudge. Meta!)
So the premise here is that our main character is the ultimate underdog. Goblins in games and fantasy stories are always showing up to get slaughtered by the heroes, and that’s pretty much their only function. Here, the goblin is the point. Jig is not even a very good goblin. He’s near-sighted, he’s a pretty nice guy (he doesn’t go for the fighting and the mean pranks like some of his brethren do), and he’s a self-admitted coward, his first move being always to either surrender or run away. He gets pulled into a quest when an adventuring party in search of the Rod of Creation (heh) enters the goblin tunnels, and when he is the only one of his patrol to survive the encounter with them (because he threw down his weapon and surrendered, obvs), he is forced to guide them into the bowels of the earth.
Of course, the whole premise is an excuse to poke fun at traditional fantasy tropes and plot devices, but Hines also does a great job giving Jig an actual arc that you can take seriously. Everyone in the party (and everyone back at home) is constantly underestimating him, which leaves him a lot of room to actually make things happen, and think his way out of the problems the party blunders into. He finds by the end that he’s worth more than he’s been taught his whole life, and that in fact, he’s smart and brave when he has to be.
Not sure when I’ll get to the other two books in this series, though I already own them. My TBR for the rest of the year is pretty full, and this wasn’t really compelling enough for me to want to jump right in.
CBR Bingo: Reading the TBR