Hobbes the goblin lives a brutish yet bearable life working in the mines. Hated for his resemblance to the Hobgoblin overseers but not feared, his habits of reading and thinking just a little too much only make him more of an outcast. When he accidentally kills one of his tormentors he is given a choice between receiving a cruel and unusual death and dealing it to others.
Although the core dilemma of the novel, how the thinking person responds to the casual brutality of killing strangers, is decidedly dark, Lynn adds a solid layer of comedy to counteract the horror. Mixing slapstick with lethality and irony with inevitability he crafts a world both callous and engaging.
The novel is narrated by Hobbes in a light dialect. While this quickly fades into the background, this does require the reader to persevere through a feeling of adjustment. Fortunately, this learning curve is shallow and the story is well worth the effort.
In addition to a distinctive voice, Hobbes personality is well developed. Possessing many of the symptoms of the bullied but also a more casual approach to violence than humans, he is both plausible and noticeably other.
This use of a narrator in the liminal zone allows Lynn to insert explanations for the reader veiled as commentary without descending into exposition of matters a character would already know.
The supporting cast are similarly well realised. Drawing on the familiar characters of the oppressed young villager finding his inner hero, but filtered through the lens of a race genetically nasty, brutish, and short, Lynn creates a cast entirely fitting for a world of goblin assassins and their mysterious masters.
I very much enjoyed this book. I recommend it to readers looking for comic fantasy with an underlying depth.
I received a free copy of this novel from the author with no obligation to review.