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The Goblin Wood Hardcover – 1 Apr 2003
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The book opens strong, with a very well written depiction of Makenna's grief and anger at the murder of her mother by local villagers. It continues strong with a very clever set of scenes setting up Makenna's first contact with goblins. But then, the book sort of begins to fade and drift. Goblins are burned and killed and tortured, but then there are cute exchanges among them. The hero Tobin sometimes feels like a ten year old, but then he is supposed to be a battle hardened campaigner. The bad guy is a bad guy because we keep being told he's a bad guy, but then sometimes he's just a good guy in a bad place. More generous reviewers treat this as the author's struggling with the nature of evil, but sometimes it just feels like the author can't quite get a handle on who this villainous character is.
All of that would be OK, this is after all a fairly brief ya fantasy novel, except every now and then we begin to drift into teen romance territory, a la the "Twilight" books. So, on the one hand we have a professional soldier sent to assassinate a murderous sorceress, and on the other hand we have a goofy guy meeting cute with a charming hedgewitch.
None of that ruins the book, which is still a quick entertaining read, but I don't think there's enough going on to lift this from the average category.
That's when things start to pick up pace. After that the book had me coming back for more and this is easily a book that can be demolished in a day if you have the free time. There's a simplicity to the characters which at first irked me but then started to click into place. Bell doesn't over develop anyone in the book, so it never really feels like you're in a characters shoes, but more so like you're watching their actions on a TV screen.
The story itself is interesting and just flows by itself but it never feels like it's building towards some massive climax. Instead a lot of the surprises are things you'd come to expect from your typical fantasy writer, but the story still doesn't get boring. That's where Bell excels, at doing the basics right and keeping the reader engaged. I ended up putting the book down after completion feeling quite satisfied with what I read and I will be purchasing the sequel shortly as I believe I am quite interested in seeing how Bell continues to mould this world she's created.
It's hard to really stand out these days when there seems to be new talented authors breaking through almost everyday in the fantasy genre, but anyone looking for a simple fantasy story for a nice day off wont be left disappointed with The Goblin Wood.
Maybe the way Ms. Bell building her character and situation that was easily accepted and consistent throughout the book. The politics reasons in conflict with the goblins' was so well developed that you can not just say right or wrong about each side. This book really shows you how it was like to have something in the middle, when everything has its own right and wrong. Yet all was told in not-so-flourished language.
Although I think the way out for the ending was a bit too coincidental (because I feel it was too simple but again maybe I wouldn't like it better any other way) , the last chapter brought a lot more feeling to the whole story. My eyes just soaked a bit with a big smile on my face after reading the last word.
What a gem. I simply love it :)
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
Makenna was a simple hedgewitch who joins with the goblins after her mother is murdered by humans due to religious problems by human leaders named priests. Though she has simple spells, her alliance with the goblins who has their own set of spells makes great trouble for the humans wanting to inhabit the woods occupied by the goblins.
Tobin is a knight who has been wrongly accused for treason. Due to his family's background, he is spared death and is given a chance to redeem himself by bringing in Makenna, who humans have come to believe is an all-powerful sorceress.
It took me a very long time to get into this story. Probably because the story starts in flashbacks and it frustrated me because if it starts in flashbacks then maybe the story started at the wrong time.
However, it got really good near the middle of the book. What fascinated me the most was a discussion of where the Goblin's power came from, hence where the Goblin's came from. Then it went on to discuss how the Goblin power was evolving. I found that very thought out and intriguing.
In the end, I found the book to be a fantastic and satisfying read. I don't regret picking this book up at all. It isn't just a book for young adults as fantasy lovers of all ages should enjoy this book. Hilari Bell has written another book called "A Matter of Profit" and I look forward to picking that book up as well sometime.