Friday, 4 January 2013

Dance of the Goblins: A Compelling Tale

It is finally here; my first review of a Goodreads author's book. First a few words about the author in question:

Jaq D Hawkins is a published writer with 9 books in publication on nature spirits and chaos magic published by Capall Bann Publishing as well as two Fantasy novels in print and E-book, Dance of the Goblins and Demoniac Dance, soon to be followed by the third book in the series, Power of the Dance.

Also recently released is her first Steampunk book, The Wake of the Dragon, an airship pirate adventure among the opium trade in an alternative history. Information on all titles can be found through her website at

Dance Of The Goblins (The Goblin, #1)Dance of the Goblins
The Goblin #1
by Jaq D. Hawkins
Published by International Waters, 2005
285 pages. UK £7.99

Dance of the Goblins is a very compelling tale that can in one way be read as a critisism of humanity, it certainly raises various points and questions on the matter. It is the kind of book that makes you think even after you have finished it and put it away on a shelf to gather dust.

Then you might ask: Why then did you only give three stars? To that I have to say that my opinions about this book are very divided.

I don't know if I would call this novel High Fantasy. It seems mostly to be building upon the world that we know, although no name is given. There aren't many details about the world at all. In the beginning it can be a bit hard to understand what is where and why as you only get information in small portions along the way. It was really only around the last part of the book that I began to understand how everything was connected.

In one way this bothers me as one of my favourite things in high fantasy is the worldbuilding, but then in another way this was probably the thing that caused me to curiously keep turning the pages. If every information had been given to me from the beginning I think the rest of the book would have been quite boring. The structure of the book relies a lot upon revealing things slowly.

The characters are a bit too one dimensional for my taste. There are some very interesting figures in the book, but I don't really feel like they are living up to their full potential. The descriptions are either pretty flat or almost non-existant. The whole story is one big conflict between two worlds; there are a lot of differences of perspective among the characters - but I feel that those could have been explored a lot more.

Dance Of The Goblins (The Goblin, #1)I think it is safe to say that this is a very plot driven story.
The plot is the strong factor in this book.

A short resume stolen from the book's Goodreads page:
"At the centre of goblin society is The Dance, the spiritual exaltation of life itself which is central to the goblins' existence. In the human world above, life is austere and goblins only a myth. When Count Anton is drawn into the rhythm of The Dance, a clash between two worlds is about to begin...

Haghuf, respected elder among the unseen goblins, has only scorn for humans. Yet he is drawn i
nto friendship with a human aristocrat by the Dance, the celebration of life that holds the goblin society together."

Of course something goes wrong and the two worlds clash. It is then up to the two friends to try and avoid the catastrophe that a war between the two species would cause. It is fairly clear all throughout the book that all sympathy is on the goblins' side; they are peaceful creatures who live in harmony with nature while the humans are rather seen as defilers of nature. I quite like this aspect. I gives the story a certain uniqueness.

The story takes quite a heavyly scientific view on the world and nature. The goblins seem to comprehend these things very well, the humans, however, are portrayed as partly blind and disillusioned in that regard, prone to superstition. I absolutely adore Jaq D. Hawkins for this.

I love the idea, I love the story - I am just really sad that there aren't more details, a little more colour. It is as if it is only brushing the surface of the issue. It is only 285 pages long, it would not have been a problem to expand a little more upon the depth of the story. Of course I do keep in mind that it is only the first book in the series, the next books will hopefully be going into more detail about everything.

Furthermore, I found that there were some slight inconsistencies within the book. It is nothing major (nothing so big I can actually remember it to offer an example), but again a little more attention to the details could have made this book just that notch better.

I have to be honest here, I have not become a particularly big fan of Jaq D. Hawkin's writing style after having read this book. To be fair, she started out by telling me that this was a first edition and that later editions have been improved upon. I do not know if it is only the typos that has been fixed or whether any more extensive improvement have been done, but I strongly suspect the first to be true.

There are a lot of typos in this edition, but to own the truth they were not what bothered me most; the whole language seems to be lacking flow somehow. Now, it is of course a possibility that it is just me that is being picky here (I do tend to be overly attentive to the language and grammar of the books I read). It did seem to get better towards the end and I am now finding myself unsure of whether it really did get better or whether I just began to get used to the unfamiliar writing style.

If anyone decides to pick up this book, though, I would definitely recommend getting hold of a more recent edition.

In the end I would rather apply the term 'interesting' than the word 'good' to this book. I was actually on the verge of giving this book only two stars, but that would not have been fair. I ended up asking myself wether I would read the next book in the series; to that my answer is definitely yes.

My curiosity has been awoken. This is a very original piece of work as far as I am concerned. If for nothing else, read it for its originality. Three stars is not a bad rating.

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