REVIEW: Nine Goblins by T. Kingfisher
When a party of goblin warriors find themselves trapped behind enemy lines, it’ll take more than whining (and a bemused Elven veterinarian) to get them home again.
Nine Goblins is a novella of low…very low…fantasy.
Dear Ms. Kingfisher,
I love this novella. Really, really love it. The cover is wonderful, the blurb is great (and what made me want to read it), it has goblins, elves, trolls, wizards, skeletal deer, a stuffed teddy bear who has better tactical ideas than goblin officers, and a kitten. What’s not to love?
The war started when goblins reached the edge of the ocean and realized there was no farther that they could go after being pushed out of their lands. Unfortunately, when they sent soldiers to negotiate a treaty, things went … badly and now they’ve been fighting for ages. When Sergeant Nessilka charges a wizard (and everyone knows they’re bat-shit crazy) in battle, she and her charging goblin platoon end up traveling through space to a place miles behind enemy lines. And their troubles are only just beginning.
Elven veterinarian Sings-to-Trees is generally a satisfied soul. He treats the animals he finds or that are brought to him and adores trolls. Despite their size trolls are usually gentle and though they make a fuss about being treated they’re helpful and bring Sings all the goat meat he can eat. Trolls are great. Unicorns on the other hand … When he spies an injured goblin and lugs it home – in stages because they might be short but they’re *solid* – he knows other goblins will follow. And his troubles are only just beginning.
The set up for the novella takes a little while. Goblin and elven society, plus the war, must be set up and it takes a while for the two to finally come together. But I didn’t care because I was having such fun reading about these goblins and about this elf. Wry humor abounds and it’s hilarious to see poor Sergeant Nessilka trying to wrangle her troops and keep them alive. Yep, it’s the non-coms who keep their people alive in spite of all the nonsense officers try to unload on them and good sergeants know when to accept their own men’s little oddities such as talking through a teddy bear.
Sings-to-Trees is an oddball according to other elves who just love pretty, well behaved wildlife. But when a unicorn is kicking you even as you’re trying to help it deliver a foal, where are those elves then, huh? That’s right – gone. Yet Sings loves his patients and likes goblins, too. Treat others with kindness and usually it will be returned to you – that’s what Sing has found.
I was as baffled as they all are when the eerie silence in the forest and the deserted farm and village signal that Something Is Very Wrong. What was it? Who was it? And could all of them defeat it before it killed them?
*WARNING – Beware of Chapter 16 as it’s got some descriptions of what has happened and many of them are disturbing.*
Things go a little squirrely at the end in how the villain is ultimately dealt with and I’m with the Elven Ranger Captain in being unsettled about it. Still the bear gets an award and will probably be promoted, no kitten is left behind, Sings’s raccoon baby is on the mend, all of Sergeant Nissilka’s troops are fine, and maybe, just maybe a break through might happen in the war. A-
Well, at least things were getting back to normal. And maybe nothing would change, and the war would still go on, and they’d be right back to gruel and marching up hillsides in the dark.
Maybe Finchbones was right, and you never knew why anything changed. Maybe it was all down to small things.
Like teddy-bears. And kittens.