Monday, August 22, 2011
The Goblin Wood by Hilari Bell Review
This is an older book that I picked up because the third book in the series is due out this fall, The Goblin War.
When Makenna is eleven, her mother is killed before her hiding eyes for being a sorceress. Though her mother is really just a hedgewitch, the Priests of the church are looking for absolute power. Makenna seeks her revenge on the village of human who had been healed and cared for by her mother only to turn against her at the Priests request. But the Goblins in the woods won’t leave her alone as she retreats. They steal everything she has and she must find a way to survive with them. Meanwhile, Tobin is growing up and becoming a knight for the Hierarch. Both Tobin and his younger brother, Jeriah, fight to protect the human settlements from the barbarians to the south but the fight goes badly. Every winter the barbarians increase their numbers regardless of how many are killed. Then Jeriah makes a critical error forcing Tobin to take his place or see him killed. Trying to find some way to get out of the mess his brother has made, Tobin agrees to go to the Goblin woods looking for the now older sorceress, Makenna. It is a battle of wits that neither side may win as no one truly understands all of the secrets that are hiding.
4 Stars – A great read
The Goblin Woods is a classic fantasy tale. There is great world building including an interesting “cast” system among magical creatures. Some magic is considered good and some bad. I enjoyed the goblin society with payment required in trade for any service or knowledge given. What I really liked was that the world wasn’t so complicated that it weighed down the story. I often get overwhelmed with fantasy books that take so much explication that I can’t enjoy the story.
The characters were interesting and complicated. Makenna has a rough start but she manages to get through it with some of her humanity in tack. Tobin was been dealt a raw deal but his sense of right and wrong is still there. One of the best parts of the story is the way the author shows both points of view of a very complex issue. What seems clear to one side is muddled by the other. Who is really right and who is wrong? Can solutions only be found when complete understanding is to be had? It was quite interesting.
I would recommend this for the younger side of YA fantasy book lovers.