Believe it or not, but Goblins is my first Philip Reeve! I am a disgrace. (Or does a short story count?)
Goblins is deliciously green; cover, paper edges, bookmark-cum-postcard, the lot. I wanted to read it, but tested it first on the Resident IT Consultant, who loved it. His notes (he took notes!) mentioned Farmer Giles, Gormenghast, Magic Flute, Wagner, Beowulf and Pratchett. So there you are.
My post-reading notes has anchovies and gazebo and cheese listed. We appear to see things differently.
Like Henwyn, the (human) hero of this book, I had never given too much thought to princesses who need rescuing. I know they do, occasionally, but had never stopped to think about who and what they might be. It would actually be worthwhile doing so. Philip Reeve’s princess is better than most. She is Princess Eluned, or Ned for short.
There is a map of Clovenstone, where the action takes place. What struck me about it is that most maps of this kind of fantasy country tend to look the same. I don’t mean it badly, but there were no surprises, if you get my drift? Anyway, Goblins live in Clovenstone and they are an unpleasant and stupid lot, apart from the (goblin) hero Skarper. He has goblinish tendencies, but is on the whole rather nice, and he is well read, due to the existence of bumwipes.
Power will make anyone mad and bad, whether human or goblin or any other species. That means the search for who is going to be the new Lych Lord can’t end well. Once you have power, you will not improve, and your friends will despair of you.
Henwyn comes from a cheese-making family, and there is an unusual cheese in this story. The gazebo in question is simply one of those nice words Skarper learned from the dictionary which he found among the bumwipes. Gazebo almost makes more sense to Skarper than kindness (the word) does, until he encounters kindness. You’ll know it when you find it.
Anchovies is merely a goblin kind of ‘phrase.’
Skarper and Henwyn and Ned have a bit of an adventure. Thanks to Henwyn’s courage and Ned’s wisdom and Skarper’s well… everything else, their search for riches and power and heroic adventure goes just fine. There is a dragon, three human idiots, as well as a troll and a giant. I’d say all the angles have been covered.
This book offers lots of humour and an exciting adventure, but I especially liked Philip’s use of language. And Ned. I’ll be Ned in my next life. At least if I can avoid some of her more hair-raising, near death experiences.