When she looked up, the elf was watching her. She was expecting to find an expression of contempt or hatred or something, but he met her eyes with unexpected camaraderie, like the only babysitter in a room full of children. How odd that our lives should bring us to this point, that look said.Nine Goblins
is a story written by Ursula Vernon
under the pseudonym T. Kingfisher and published in ebook format. It follows a troop of goblins fighting in the Goblin Wars
and their encounter with the elf veterinarian Sings-To-Trees. It is also a sort-of prequel to the earlier (unfinished) story Elf vs. Orc
The goblin sergeant Nessilka and eight of her squad are magically displaced from the battlefront and dropped far behind the enemy lines when they attack a wizard during a battle. Their attempts to get home are cut short when they meet the elf Sings-To-Trees and discover strange things happening in the nearby human villages... like all the humans and animals suddenly vanishing, for example.
Might or might not feature trolls, elven rangers, psychotic wizards, a kitten, and a teddy bear.
Nine Goblins provides examples of:
- All Trolls Are Different
- Beef Bandage: Offered to Mushkin after he gets a black eye.
- Bilingual Bonus: Algol is an Arabic word for a kind of monster that can be translated as "ghoul", or possibly "goblin".
- Bizarre Sexual Dimorphism: It's mentioned that most goblin females are willowy and attractive, while the males are just lumpy. However, the two female protagonists don't fit this mold, with Nessilka being rather masculine in build and Weasel androgynous.
- Combat Pragmatist: Most of the characters.
- Consulting Mister Puppet: One of the goblins speaks exclusively through a teddy bear following a Noodle Incident. It's an improvement, according to Nessilka. The bear proves to be quite useful in the end.
- Dem Bones: The cervidians.
- Face Palm: A common reaction both for Nessilka and Sings.
- Fantastic Racism: Against goblins, of course. The main reason for the war.
- Five-Man Band: Of the goblins with the most page time:
- Friend to All Living Things: Sings-To-Trees. As opposed to the other elves in this universe, he even cares for the non-cute animals. (And the cute animals whenever they're not currently being cute.)
- Full Boar Action: Goblin generals and high-up messengers use pigs as Fantastic Mounts.
- Horse of a Different Color: Goblins ride pigs. Sings-To-Trees at one point has to ride A cervidian, a skeletal stag to his great discomfort.
- Insanity Immunity: Blanchett, being somewhat broken, is unaffected by the second wizard's spell.
- Minion with an F in Evil: The goblins, in general. Nessilka has to remind them they are supposed to be fierce all the time.
- Not So Different: Nessilka and Sings, when they first meet, share a common moment.
- Our Elves Are Better: Of course they are.
- Our Goblins Are Different: Remarkably similar to Pratchett's Discworld goblins, in that they are treated throughout the world as near-vermin, but have a far more cohesive society. Some hints of the modern "technical wiz" take on goblins, especially with Murray, who invents, for instance, a basic refrigerator.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: But not so reasonable as to just let the goblins go.
- Single-Minded Twins: Mishkin and Mushkin, of the Finishing Each Other's Sentences variety. They're also identical, until Nessilka gets The Big Guy to give one a black eye as an Identical Twin ID Tag.
- Team Mom: Nessilka.
- Team Pet: Wiggles the kitten, though to Nessilka's reluctance.
- The Homeward Journey: Well, not exactly home, but back to their own people.
- War Is Hell: The war is depicted not so much as horrific (though it has its moments) as wasteful and tragic, and caused mainly by misunderstandings and meaningless discrimination.
- With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: All wizards are certifiably insane. Comes with the territory. It's not exactly a Power Born of Madness, but it seems you can't get one without the other...