Goblin Quest

Ah, I never know how to star these posts.  Do I say for the umpteenth time that I discovered this book through the Writing Excuses podcast?  Jim C. Hines was a guest on the podcast, and after that episode i decided that I eventually needed to check out his books.  That of course was a very long time ago.  In that time, I started to read Jim’s blog on his website, and it’s easily one of the best blogs that I’ve seen online. He regularly posts about a wide variety of topics, and each of his posts are interesting and thoughtful.  Even if you haven’t read his books I highly suggest checking out his blog from time to time.  Anyway, on with the review.

Book Stats

346 pages

Fantasy, Satire

First book in the Goblin series

Characters

The main character of this book is Jig, who is a runt even among the lowly goblin tribe that he lives with.  The main difference between Jig and the rest of the goblins is that Jig is quite intelligent.  From the very beginning of the book he questions how goblins typically go about their days – running head first into random adventurers which ends up getting all of them killed.  Jig was a fantastic character and tons of fun to read about.  Jig is the only goblin that we see a lot of in this book, but the other characters that we run into are a lot of fun as well.

Setting

The books takes place within the series of caves where Jig lives, as they delve deeper into the caves they run into all sorts of different dangers; hobgoblins, carrion worms, necromancers, and oh yeah, a dragon.

Plot

Jig was picked to go on patrol with several other goblins, mostly so they could gamble while they sent Jig off to scout (which in goblin terms basically means he was sent off to die).  As Jig is going through the tunnels he runs into a group of adventurers; two princes, one of which is a mage, a dwarf, and an elf.  By some stretch of luck they decide to use Jig as a guide rather than immediately kill him, so of course they go off in search of the Rod of Creation, a very powerful magical artifact.

Enjoyment

I loved this book.  Jig was a great character and it was really interesting to see how he was constantly outsmarting everyone, including the adventurers who capture him.  The book is also really funny as the author takes a close look as a standard Fantasy trope, then turns it on it’s head.  Unlike a lot of the standard Fantasy heroes, Jig isn’t capable of fighting off even the weakest opponent, he constantly has to use his brains to outsmart them.  This book is a lot of fun and is definitely one of the most unique books that I’ve read in quite some time.

Overall Grade

A very unique book that is a ton of fun to read, I’m anxiously looking forward to the sequels.

10/10

Firefly: Series in Review

So this is my final post talking about Joss Whedon’s Firefly.  Well, not quite final, there is still the movie to talk about, but we’ll save that one for later in the week.

As always, links to all of my other posts about the show can be found here.

Firefly Series Thoughts

So I’ve reached the end of Firefly, and I loved the show.  The characters were all a lot of fun – and not just the main characters, many of the side characters who may have only been in the show for one episode were also quite interesting.  The show told several very interesting stories, and it set up a lot of intriguing questions that they didn’t have time to explore in the show.  As the show ends I’m still really interested in exactly what they did to River as well as why they were experimenting on her.  I also really want to know more about Shepherd Book’s background, there were a lot of things about him that were never explained in the show, and I really want to know more about his past.

So now we get to the strongest part of the show, the characters.  Interesting stories can do a lot for a show/movie/book/whatever, but strong characters are what make fiction memorable over time.  There are 9 major characters in the show – Mal, Zoe, Jayne, Wash, Kaylee, Inara, Simon, River, and Book – and they all have a lot going for them.

Mal is the main character of the show and gets the most development in the series.  He cares greatly about the members of his crew, and is willing to do whatever needs to be done to protect them.  But while he’s caring with the people he’s close to, he is ruthless when he needs to be with his enemies.  There’s also a lot going on between him and Inara, which is hinted at early on but then addressed more directly in the last couple of episodes.

Zoe is one of the more active characters, especially in the early episodes, unfortunately, as the show went one she seemed to fall a little flat for me.  The show left some hints for conflicts with her in later episodes, but unfortunately we never got to see what comes of it.

Jayne is pretty much the hired muscle, not terribly intelligent, but violent enough to back up Mal and Zoe with whatever needs to be done.  There are a couple of scenes that show a slightly deeper side of Jayne (specifically the ending of Episode 12 when he starts to tear up).  He’s also the center of Episode 7, which was a lot of fun.

Early on I said that Wash was probably the weakest character in the show.  I’m going to revise this slightly, he isn’t a really weak character, but was overshadowed by the rest of the cast.  Much like Zoe, there were some signs of where they were going to go with his character had the show continued, but they never got to them.

Kaylee is my favorite character in the show.  For one she was very different from the rest of the cast.  She was always upbeat and happy, and was a welcome change from the more serious members of the crew and the darker nature of some of the episodes.  It was also a lot of fun to watch her and Simon throughout the show.  Their relationship was one of the more pervasive elements of the show, and I thought it worked out really well.

Inara is an interesting character; I mentioned that it’s interesting that she’s the most respectable member of the crew to society as a whole.  Along with that she had a lot of interesting interactions with the other characters.  Obviously she cares a lot about Mal, but it was also really interesting to see her interaction with Kaylee in various episodes, she really does care about the other members of the crew.

Now we get to the characters that joined the crew during the course of the show.  Lets start with Simon because I listed him first in the character roll call.  Simon is the nerdy outcast member of the crew.  It’s obvious that he cares about his sister, just as it’s obvious that he likes Kaylee but also suffers from foot-in-mouth syndrome.  On his own he’s not a terribly deep character, but his interactions with Kaylee really help him out a lot.

River is the most intriguing character in the show.  Obviously the Alliance did some strange experiments on her, and we start to find out part of what they did throughout the course of the show, but we never learn why or exactly what she is capable.  I’m sure that the movie goes more in depth with her story, and I’m really looking forward to it.

Book is probably the deepest character in the show, and I really want to know a lot more about his background because there’s a lot going on with him.  While I fully believe that he’s a preacher, he obviously has his own take on things throughout the show, and the writers did a really good job of making you curious about him.

So lets recap all of this; amazing characters, interesting stories, and a unique setting.  So why did the show only last one season?  There are a couple of reasons.

The first is something that I mentioned early on in my discussion of the show, the theme song.  It definitely does grow on you as you watch the show, and it’s thematically very appropriate for the show, but on it’s own it’s not terribly good.  Why am I picking on the theme song so much?  Simple, it’s the first gate to get into the show.  If I hadn’t heard anything about the show, and was just flipping through the channels to watch something on TV, the theme song definitely isn’t going to grab me and make me watch.

The second thing that really hurts the show for the casual audience is the setting.  Even as someone who reads a lot of Science Fiction and Fantasy, it’s weird.  Most of the time it’s not that big of an issue, but there are a couple of episodes where the combination of SciFi and Western is just too weird.  The best example of this comes from Episode 13 (Heart of Gold).  There’s a scene in Heart of Gold where Ranse is attacking the house where Mal & Co are defending Inara’s friend.  As Ranse is comingup to the house, he’s driving a hovercraft while all of the people following him are riding horses – that’s just a little too strange, even for me.

So all in all, I loved the show and I wish there had been more to it, but on the whole I understand why the show had a hard time catching on with a wider audience.

So there are my thoughts about the show as a whole, what do you think?