Goblin Tales is a short story collection based on the world built in Jim C. Hines' popular Goblin Quest series. Hines is known for fanciful storytelling that doesn't take itself too seriously; the reader can comfortably relax into his worlds to just enjoy the experience. This doesn't mean he lacks creativity; his characters are drawn from fanciful worlds, and even when they are based on races we've known since Tolkien days, Hines manages to bring his own unique twists to the pages. Brilliantly done are the gay fire spider, the reluctantly brave Jig, goblin runt extraordinaire, and the goblin nursemaid who somehow juggles being cranky, murderous, and moral at the same time. Each of these stories is captivating in their own right, but together they make an excellent day of reading. This reviewer has said it before, that Hines reminds her of Pratchett at his funniest. These stories are not as comprehensive as a Hines novel; they are not meant to be. Still, they are a fabulous introduction to Hines' writing, his world of goblins, and his world of Libriomancy all in one — who can pass up a 3-fer?
“Goblin Lullaby” - The first story of Jig the Goblin, this story focuses more on his nursemaid and how she managed to keep the runtiest of goblins alive when the odds were stacked completely against him.
“The Haunting of Jig's Ear” - What happens when Jig accidentally releases the ghost of a dead mage into his — ear? This story is funny and quite creative, with insights as to how Goblin — how shall we say it? — society works.
“Goblin Hunter”- In this tale, we learn about how Smudge the gay fire spider makes his way into Jig's life. Although this tale has the venerable Smudge and introduces a fascinating race of creatures called the Cloudlings, it is perhaps the weakest tale in the collection.
“School Spirit”- Perhaps the best short story in the bunch, this story involves Veka, the lone goblin sent off to study wizardry among humans at an elite wizard school. Her relationship with her roommate, her response to the inevitable bullying she receives, and her unfortunate tendency to mess with school curses make this story rousing fun.
“Mightier than the Sword” - Hines accomplishes two things in this story; he amuses us greatly, and he introduces the fascinating world of Libriomancers (we cannot disclose what Libriomancers are, for that would be spoilery and evil of us). Smudge the fire spider straddles two worlds, and saves the day. (Self Published, Mar., dl $2.99)
*Web Exclusive Review*