Goblin War

Goblin War is the third book in Jim C. Hines’ goblin trilogy, and like the two before is a lot of fun. Jig is once again drawn into the machinations of humans when the lair is invaded by two of the younger siblings of Barius and Ryslind, and at the urging of Shadowstar ends up in all sorts of trouble.

If you liked the first two books, you should definitely grab this one. None of them are going to completely change your life, but they’re all three solidly written quality fantasy adventures.

Plot summary

The plot summary contains spoilers! Show it anyway.

Why are you reading this? This is the third and final book in this trilogy; you should go read the actual book. I’m only writing this on the off chance that Hines returns to this world in the future and includes references or character crossovers and I need to refresh my memory.

Now that Grell is chief, Jig has been a lot happier in his place in the lair. Unfortunately, the book starts with a battle between goblins and the humans who are invading their home. Thanks to the goblins’ complete lack of strategy, the humans are able to push all the way into the goblin lair without much trouble, where they successfully obtain the Rod of Creation and demand that the strongest goblins come with them as prisoners. The party of humans is led by Princess Genevieve and her brother Theodore, and they were led there by Darnak (who is turned back into a dwarf after Theodore grabs the Rod of Creation).

Jig is roped into this (literally) alongside another big ugly goblin named Trok and Relka, who has become a devotee of Jig and Shadowstar since her stabbing in book two. Braf is also included in the group.

The goblins are taken to a nearby human town (that once belonged to elves) and forced to prepare it for a siege. Evidently a war leader named Billa the Bloody has organized monsters into an army and is marching on humans.

Jig successfully escapes with Trok and Relka in tow, and they seek out Billa’s army. There they discover (and survive) giant wolves, a sentient tree named Oakbottom that likes throwing monsters as far as he can, and Billa herself who is an orc and apparently the champion of the ice goddess Isa who used to be Shadowstar’s wife. It comes out that Shadowstar, Isa, and the other gods like them were betrayed and hunted down by Shadowstar’s son Noc, who is now the god of death. As part of Noc’s punishment of them, though, he cursed them that they would not be remembered by civilized races, which evidently included everything except monsters and the gods. Isa has been harboring her power for years in preparation for a confrontation with Noc, which she plans to force by having the monsters and humans wholesale slaughter one another.

Neither Jig nor Shadowstar is happy with this plan, since they are both a fan of things living instead of dying (for the most part). Billa’s army reaches the goblin lair but is unable to get in thanks to Theodore sealing it with the Rod of Creation, and Jig escapes and runs for the town. He is hunted down by the wolf riders (led by Gratz, a very rules-conscious goblin), and after Jig manages to kill off the leader and charm the alpha wolf Bastard, he takes them all off to the human town.

There he warns Genevieve and Darnak of Billa’s actual target: their town. They don’t believe that Genevieve’s father will arrive in time, so they make some plans to try and distract the monster army.

Billa arrives, and handily slaughters Theodore and his elf friends when they try to fight her using Isa’s magic sword, despite their use of the Rod of Creation to make themselves all but invulnerable. She also destroys the Rod.

Jig manages to get himself taken to the human king by the giant messenger hawks that Theodore leaves behind (also thanks to the Rod) because of the color of his cloak. He discovers that the king lied to his daughter and is indeed very nearby.

Desperate to prevent widespread bloodshed (and because Shadowstar doesn’t want Isa to successfully kill his son, even if his son did try to kill them both), Jig confronts Billa and Isa. In the altercation, Jig successfully kills Billa but Shadowstar is forced to manifest to save Jig’s life and gets stabbed by Isa’s god-killing sword. Shadowstar intimates that Relka has been following Jig not because of Shadowstar, but because she loves Jig.

Jig takes control of the monster army and manages to negotiate a treaty with the humans. Braf takes Shadowstar away to heal, but the god fades away. It is unclear if Shadowstar has successfully reunited with his son Noc as he desired, or if the goblins, by entering into a treaty with the humans, have become too civilized to be contacted by Shadowstar.