Book: Goblins Vs Dwarves

About a year ago, I went on a reading spree focusing on Philip Reeve’s books. That was when I picked up Goblins! and fell in love with Skarper and Henwyn, Princess Ned and the entire cast of characters. A year later, I still remember them fondly and it was much to my surprise when I spied this distinctive red tome on the display shelf at the library.

Funny story – I was on the way down the escalator having just left the library, when I saw this book sitting on the bottom shelf. In that split second I recognized Skarper on the cover and the font of the title and so, hopped onto the up escalator and went back into the library to grab the book. All this, while my students were just staring at me in puzzlement and following like little ducklings behind me. Okay, so maybe that wasn’t very funny, but it was when it happened.

Goblins vs Dwarves


As the title no doubt tells you, this continuation of Skarper and Henwyn’s adventure brings them into conflict with dwarves. Or perhaps it would be better to say that dwarves came tunnelling to Skarper and Henwyn. Much has changed in Clovenstone, with Princess Ned ruling over the goblins, it would seem that they have all become cheese wrights. It’s an idyllic picture that is painted before the dwarves come in search for slowsilver (the opposite of quicksilver get it?), the magic liquid that produces goblin eggs. So a war ensues, and a new cast of characters are introduced to help in the fight. The new characters are as varied and interesting as the old, and to a large extent really get all the attention.

But what really drew me back to the series was the humour and the use of irony.

When the first dwarves made contact with the first men they were shocked to discover that we are so much larger than them. ‘Biglings’, they call us, and I’m afraid they see us as clodhopping, overgrown, stupid and clumsy.”

“But that’s not true!” said Henwyn, and he thumped Fentongoose’s table for emphasis, upset the plate, and catapulted the biscuits out of the window.

“Perhaps not,” said Fentongoose. “But the dwarves believe it, and think that they are far superior to us. However, their scorn for us is as nothing compared with the scorn they feel towards goblins, whom they see as mere animals, interested only in food and violence.”

“That’s not true either!” shouted Skarper, over the noise from outside, where a whole bunch of goblins were fighting over the biscuits.

I love the style that this series is written in. It’s simple and easy to understand, and yet there’s so much going on, and Skarper is a wonderful character to be journeying with. He is different from all the other Goblins, that was established in the first book. Yet he continues to surprise and develop into the most lovable Goblin I have ever had the pleasure of reading (who knew Goblins could be lovable?).

Skarper looked at his companions. A haunted girl; a penniless old philosopher; a drunkard; a shower of ghosts; and Henwyn. It wasn’t much of an army to fling against the whole dwarven nation. For a moment he thought about turning and running back into the city, finding himself a nice cost nook somewhere, like those three trolls under their bridge, and forgetting all about Clovenstone. That would have been the gobliny thing to do, and he knew it. But he’d changed, just as Clovenstone itself had, and he didn’t always do the gobliny thing any more.

I know there are critics that will say show, not tell! But I’m only taking out excerpts of the book, so don’t judge too quickly. The characters bring life to the story and their antics never fail to bring a smile to my face. The plot is simple to follow, but it’s isn’t linear. There’s a lot going on, plenty of action and information to absorb, but it never overwhelms the reader. And of course, who can forget, Reeve’s literary signature. The insertion of present day life as absurd and strange in the world he has created. Even a news item like a celebrity chef stealing cheese manages a mention in this hilarious novel.

It’s a highly entertaining and enjoyable read and I cannot wait for the third book and a possible movie. (MOVIE!!)

3 Responses to “Book: Goblins Vs Dwarves”
  1. alexcmcglenn says:

    Sounds great. I’ll have to check out the first one!

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