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Literature / The Goblin Quest Series

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"We may be outnumbered. They may have magic and muscle on their side. But we're goblins! We're tough, we're mean, and we're more than a match for a few so-called heroes. Some of us will die, but for the survivors this will be a victory to live forever in goblin memories."
— Goblin captain(name unknown), shortly before his death by multiple stab wounds to the back.

The Goblin Quest series by Jim C. Hines is a humorous fantasy series about oh so very Reluctant Hero Jig, a clever little runt of a goblin who gets pulled into grand adventures and harrowing dangers when he'd rather run and hide as any self-respecting goblin should. Jig lives with a tribe of goblins in a mountain filled with bigger(and somewhat smarter) hobgoblins and various other dangerous creatures. Jig is picked on by the other goblins because of his size but what he lacks in imposing physical traits he more than makes up for with common sense. The series also features the original appearances of Smudge the fire spider from Jim C. Hines' "Magic Ex Libris" series.



  • Goblin Quest(2006)
  • Goblin Hero(2007)
  • Goblin War(2008)
  • Goblin Tales(2011)

This series features the following tropes:

  • Absurdly Sharp Blade: Elven blades can cut through an orc's heavy furs and armor "as if they were cobwebs."
  • Ancient Artifact: The Rod of Creation
  • Apron Matron: Golaka and Grell
  • Bad Boss: Billa the Bloody, Straum the Dragon
  • Baleful Polymorph: Jig uses the Rod of Creation to transform Prince Barius and Prince Ryslind into giant trout which the Goblins later have for dinner
  • Black Comedy Cannibalism: Goblins are cannibals. It's usually brought up humorously.
  • Booby Trap: A Hobgoblin specialty!
  • Call to Adventure: Jig really doesn't want to answer it.
  • Catapult to Glory: The Ent-like Oakbottom throwsorcs at the city of Avery during the siege.
  • Character Filibuster: Darnak will gladly tell you about Every. Single. God.
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  • Chef of Iron: Golaka
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: The natural inclination of goblins
  • Cold Iron: Good for getting rid of those pesky pixies.
  • Collector of the Strange: Straum has collected one-hundred and thirteen chamber pots over the years.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Jig, when he has no other options
  • Cool Pet: FIRE spider, Smudge
  • Cool Sword: Literally with the sword of Isa!
  • Death of the Old Gods: The War of Shadows
  • Draconic Humanoid: Straum's "children" and later, Riana.
  • Dragon Hoard: Straum has amassed a sizable hoard from previous attempts by Adventurers to slay him.
  • Dragons Are Demonic: Straum is, without a doubt, evil.
  • Drill Sergeant Nasty: Silverfang
  • Dungeon Crawl: The first book, Goblin Quest.
  • Elves vs. Dwarves: Darnak is not fond of those "pointy-eared tree-lovers."
  • Epic Fail: Jig throws a spear at Straum which WOULD have killed the dragon if only Straum hadn't blinked!
  • Everything Trying to Kill You: Jig's natural assumption
  • Fantastic Racism: Humans and Goblins, Dwarves and Elves
  • Field Promotion: Jig gets one in Goblin War
  • Food as Bribe: Wolves will do anything for a troll toe
  • Glamour Failure: Pixie glamours don't work on Jig because he made the frames of his glasses from Barius' sword, causing him to always look at the world through circles of Cold Iron.
  • God of Good: Tymalous Autumnstar
  • God Was My Copilot: It turns out that Tymalous Shadowstar had been watching over Jig since the day of his birth.
  • Great Big Book of Everything: The Path of the Hero(Wizard's Edition) by Josca
  • Great Offscreen War: The War of Shadows which ended with 15 gods and goddesses being forgotten.
  • Healing Hands: The main power given to Jig by Tymalous Shadowstar.
  • Hero Antagonist: Veka
  • Heroic Wannabe: Veka again.
  • Hidden in Plain Sight: The Rod of Creation had been used as a spoon by the goblin chef Golaka for many years.
  • High Priest: as the first follower of Tymalous Shadowstar
  • Horse of a Different Color: Wolves in Goblin War
  • Humans Are Bastards: Primarily Prince Barius
  • I'm a Humanitarian: Rather, all goblins are goblinitarians
  • Interspecies Friendship: Jig and Smudge.
  • Involuntary Transformation Darnak
  • Jerkass: Such is the case with almost every human we meet.
  • Keeping the Enemy Close: "Keep your enemies close, but your friends closer. That way your friends are between you and your enemies." - Goblin Proverb
  • Kill All Humans: The main goal for Billa the Bloody and her army.
  • Kill the God: in Goblin War, Isa's basic plan is to kill a ton of humans and monsters in order to bring the death god Noc to the battlefield so that she can then slay him.
  • Light 'em Up: Tymalous Shadowstar can imbue his followers with a bright red light.
  • Like a Son to Me: Darnak towards Princes Barius, Ryslind, Theodore and Princess Genevieve
  • Lord Error-Prone: Prince Barius
  • Master of Unlocking: Riana, an elf thief
  • Mundane Utility: There's a cave near the goblin's mountain that is cursed to have anything that enters fall asleep and never wake. The goblins use it as a hunting tool: throw some bait in there, wait for an animal to come sniffing and fall asleep, then pull it out with ropes and poles and kill it before it wakes up again.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Billa the Bloody
  • Necromancer: One of the most dangerous denizens of the mountain Jig calls home.
  • Never Mess with Granny: Grell. She's an old goblin for a REASON, folks!
  • Not Quite Back to Normal Darnak retains some bird-like mannerisms.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity Braf is not quite as dumb as he seems
  • Oh, Crap!: Jig gives about as well as he receives
  • Our Dwarves Are All the Same: Short, stocky, hairy, heavy drinkers with a dislike of elves.
  • Power at a Price: Veka gets headaches, others get worse.
  • Really 700 Years Old: Golaka has been the goblin cook for far longer than anyone can remember thanks to a side effect of using the Rod of Creation as a spoon
  • Rite of Passage: When young goblins come of age they are sent deeper into the mountain to survive on their own for a time. Most of them don't come back.
    • Prince Barius' quest for the Rod of Creation was a self-assigned one. All of his siblings went on quests on achieving adulthood to prove their worthiness for their father's crown, and their efforts to outdo each other on who could do the most impressive feat resulted in half of them getting themselves killed, and only two of the survivors making it back sane. Jig found the concept of throwing one's self into unnecessary danger to show off disgusting - the goblin rite may be dangerous, but at least it serves a purpose: goblins who can't navigate and survive the tunnels by themselves are a burden to the clan, so it's best that they dispose of themselves quickly.
  • Royal Brat: Princes Barius, Ryslind and Theodore
  • Rules Lawyer: Corporal Gratz
  • Scaled Up: Riana
  • Shout-Out: "The Universe...has layers." "Like Ogres?"
  • Spell Book: Veka has one, it's not in very good condition(and getting worse all the time).
  • Stock Gods: There are nine-hundred and fifty-four Gods of Men alone
  • Super Empowering: The ability to heal and shine with divine light are the main power perks Jig gets from Tymalous Shadowstar.
  • Super Toughness: Prince Theodore uses the Rod of Creation to give his elf army nigh-impenetrable skin
  • Take That!: The treant's story in Goblin War is one to the classic children's story "The Giving Tree". After a while, the tree's human friend stops asking for the tree's help and starts demanding, at which point the tree stops giving and returns the human's axe the hard way.
  • The Dragon Slayer: Subverted Straum blinked and Jig's spear didn't penetrate all the way in.
  • The Fair Folk: The pixie invasion in Goblin Hero
  • The Gods Must Be Idiots: Jig's opinion of the Gods
  • The Hero's Journey: What the novice goblin wizard Veka THINKS she's on in Goblin Hero.
  • The Magnificent: Subverted Billa the Bloody is so named because she gets frequent nosebleeds.
  • The Quest: The reason Prince Barius & Co are in the goblins' mountain to begin with.
  • The Old Gods: Tymalous Shadowstar(formerly Autumnstar) and Isa of the Winter Winds are two of the 15 Forgotten Gods
  • The Undead: The Necromancer had more than a few undead warriors to protect him.
  • This Cannot Be!: It's the general reaction when of Jig's enemies.
  • This Is Gonna Suck: Goblins are already small and Jig is smaller than most so he expects that almost every confrontation will end in extreme pain if not outright death.
  • To the Tune of...: The Song of Jig(to the tune of the wizard drinking song ''Sweet Tome of Ally Ba'ma'')
  • Unexplained Recovery: Darnak is turned into a large, ugly bird at the end of Goblin Quest and is back to his old self in Goblin War.
  • Unperson: The Forgotten Gods. Cursed to be forgotten by all civilized races, to the point where even if a person hears their name, they will forget it within moments. Then some of them discovered a loophole - the curse only applies to the civilized races. Uncivilized races, like goblins and orcs, on the other hand...
  • Unwitting Pawn: Everyone in Goblin War is a pawn in Isa, the Goddess of Winter Winds' plan to get the death god Noc's attention.
  • Willing Channeler: Prince Ryslind made an agreement with Straum to get the Rod of Creation in exchange for magic power.
  • Zerg Rush: Pretty much the end-all, be-all of goblin battle tactics.

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