Goblin Hero is the sequel to Jim C. Hines’ Goblin Quest and is just as much fun as the first book. This time around, the only creatures involved are those native to the mountain–so no humans, elves, or dwarves–and Jig is called upon to leave the lair once more in hopes of saving it from a magical menace.
If you enjoyed Goblin Quest, then you’ll definitely like Jig’s further adventures. If not, not much has changed since the first book stylistically or character-wise. The biggest shift is that we have a secondary character named Veka who becomes the point-of-view character for several scenes, and although this is initially jarring (Veka is not a very sympathetic character), Veka gets much more compelling partway through the book.
The plot summary contains spoilers! Show it anyway.
Jig is spending his time as the resident healer for the goblin lair. Having sealed the entrance, he lives in the entryway cave where he first ran into the adventurers of the last book, which he has converted into a shrine to Shadowstar. Although a popular song has spread through the mountain outlining the exploits of “Jig Dragonslayer”, Jig still receives very little respect in the goblin community, particularly from the new chief Kralk who thinks Jig is a threat to her authority. The book opens with him healing a goblin named Braf, who is not the brightest goblin in the bunch and has gotten his fang stuck up his own nose.
Veka, a fat goblin who works at distilling muck and has delusions of heroism and wizardry thanks to some books she stole from Straum’s hoard, tries to get Jig to teach her magic, but he refuses (since his type of magic is divinely granted and relies on prayers).
Jig is called back to the lair where an ogre has come looking for Jig Dragonslayer in need of help. Evidently the ogres who live down where Straum used to be imprisoned are being enslaved by means unknown.
Jig is ordered to go by Kralk (in a blatant effort to get him killed off) with his only companions being Braf and an aging goblin named Grell who needs two canes in order to hobble along. He only agrees to go because Shadowstar tells him he must.
After they leave, Jig asks them which has been told to kill him during the journey. Braf says Kralk ordered him to, and Grell says if she does it Kralk has promised that she won’t be stuck in the nursery on diaper duty for the young goblins anymore.
Veka sneaks off after the group, certain that she is destined for great things. She watches them mosey past the hobgoblin guards (thanks to the ogre) and is unimpressed that Jig relies so much on the ogre’s size and ferocity instead of being a hero. Veka is able to talk her way past the guards afterward, but is stymied by the lizard-fish so she goes back and talks one of the guards, who she calls Slash thanks to the scar on his face, to help her.
The two make it through the lizard-fish and down into the ogre’s land.
Jig and company meanwhile have found the ogre’s sister, who is tied up beneath a tree because she has been magically enslaved and is trying to drag her brother back for the same treatment. In the process of trying to heal her, she gets free, kills her brother, and is barely killed by the concerted efforts of Jig, Grell, and Braf.
Veka and Slash make it to the entrance of Straum’s old lair, where they discover that pixies are the ones enslaving the ogres. Apparently the pixies have come to their world and are transforming the area to match their own; there’s lots of cold and snow, and Straum’s old illusion of outdoors is almost completely worn away. Veka gets cut, and discovers that Slash faints at the sight of blood. She then is surprised by a pixie, but manages to defeat it. Unbeknownst to her, she and Slash are both taken in thrall to the pixie just like the ogres, although the pixie that captured her is not terribly powerful (he’s effectively a janitor).
Jig and company run into Veka and Slash, and learn about the pixies from them. After following a group of ogres and a pixie, they discover a passageway the pixies are evidently using for something, defeat a creature that is an amalgamation of multiple rock snakes, and after fighting through it find themselves overlooking the bottomless pit from the first book. They are discovered by the ogres and a pair of pixies, and flee into the tunnels, helped by Veka’s suddenly functional magic.
There they run into a pair of free ogres, and although the ogres want to kill them, Jig convinces them to let him go deal with the pixies. He does this by luring the pixies into a fire spider den and causing them to scare the spiders and light their webs on fire.
Having killed the pixies, Jig returns to the group. Shadowstar tells Jig that Veka and Slash are enslaved, and figuring that they will betray them, he confronts them. Grell stabs Slash with Jig’s sword, and Veka flees thinking she has just seen her hobgoblin friend killed. At this point the pixie that cast the spell on her, Snixle, starts talking with her.
It turns out that steel disrupts pixie magics, so Jig heals Slash (now not ensorcelled) and they climb up to the goblin lair (the goblin’s trash pit leads right through the ogre’s old living area).
Veka manages to survive her way through the tunnels as she and Snixle converse. it turns out that the pixies need someone to teach them how to use the magic of this world; they understand their own world’s magic, but without the help of another magic worker, it will take them quite some time to learn how to use this one’s. He additionally shares that the reason they came here is because another pixie queen was born, and since queens cannot cohabit she was forced out and Straum’s death opened up the way to this world (lots of magic in his lair). Unlike normal pixies (who can only take physical control of creatures, but cannot effect their thoughts or emotions) to look at the pixie queen is to love her. Snixle convinces Veka that the only way to get the pixies to leave the goblins alone is to capture Jig and hand him over so that they can learn about magic from him.
When Jig and company arrive back in the goblin lair, they are discovered by Kralk, who fights Jig but is killed thanks to Grell’s intervention. Jig is proclaimed chief, and barely has gotten the other goblins to accept that idea when the hobgoblins show up demanding that Jig and the chief come with them to meet the hobgoblin chief.
He and his little party head to the hobgoblin caves, where they hear that Veka has attacked the hobgoblins with magically enslaved lizard-fish and demanded they hand Jig over. After a brief battle, Jig outsmarts Veka and frees her of Snixle’s influence.
Jig decides that they need to strike at the pixies immediately, so he sends the best goblin warriors with the hobgoblins to protect against the ogres, while he, his little group of compatriots, and the smaller more cunning goblins sneak down the garbage pit and try to kill the queen.
As they approach the garbage pit, Jig anticipates and prevents himself getting stabbed in the back by Relka, one of the goblins who normally works in the kitchen. In the process he stabs her but tells her that if she survives in the goblin lair until he gets back he will heal her.
The goblins get down to the ogre caves, and Veka and Slash head off to take care of the portal while Jig, Braf, Grell, and the other goblins go to the bottomless pit to take out the queen.
They find the pit being covered in a pixie hive a lot quicker than they thought. After a pitched battle, Jig and two other goblins make it to the queen, but the second goblin turns on the third before they even make it there, and then she sees the queen and helps her capture Jig. Jig is forced to look at the queen, but thanks to the steel in his spectacles he is able to resist her charms, and successfully wounds her with Smudge’s help, and tosses her into the bottomless pit. All the creatures under her spell in the hive at that point go jumping after her (to their collective death).
Veka arrives at the portal, and thanks to Snixle’s training is able to close it after a pitched battle with some other pixies.
The goblins return home to find the hobgoblins and goblin tribes feasting on ogre after their battle, and Jig decides to unblock the entrance to the mountain at Shadowstar’s urging because the tunnels connecting to their trash pits used to be occupied by goblins, and it is clear that his tribe is dwindling.
Jig also is able to convince Grell and the rest of the goblins to accept Grell as chief instead of him.