“The sea, the snotgreen sea, the scrotumtightening sea.”
― James JoyceUlysses

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“The writer’s only responsibility is to his art. He will be completely ruthless if he is a good one… If a writer has to rob his mother, he will not hesitate; the Ode on a Grecian Urn is worth any number of old ladies.”

― William Faulkner

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“First, find out what your hero wants, then just follow him.”

― Ray Bradbury

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“Write without pay until somebody offers to pay.”
― Mark Twain

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Review: Dance Of The Goblins

Dance Of The Goblins
Dance Of The Goblins by Jaq D. Hawkins
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Dance of the Goblins is the first in a series of books by Hawkins that follow a storyline predominantly told from the point of view of humanoid creatures self-identifying as goblins. There are some interesting concepts in this book, most of which I feel should have been better executed.

I enjoy reading books or passages written from the point of view of a beastie with fangs, but that wasn’t enough to salvage this novel. It failed, at least for me, because of the fundamentals. The frequent pov shifts, grammar issues, and repetitive, unnatural exposition really prevented me from forming a strong bond with any one character or the story in general.

The style of the narrative also frequently knitted my eyebrows together; there is a tendency to exaggerate, either through the careless choice of overpowered nouns and verbs unwarranted by the actions they are describing or a general tendency of the omniscient narrator to pontificate. As a case in point, the events within are described as world changing and presented as an escalation towards war between man and goblin. In truth, we are observing a local scuffle centered around a seemingly isolated human settlement. I’m not suggesting I wanted to read something epic. What I wanted was to see the author trust in the power of character revealed through action. Trust yourself and trust your reader.

It took me longer to understand why I did not connect with the characters. Anton is likeable enough, Talla’s a free-spirit, and Haghuf deserves my admiration. Here’s what I came up with: the characters do not progress. There’s no observable arc. By the end of the book they remain as cast when we were first introduced to them. I suspect the issue might be mitigated by abandoning all the unnatural exposition. Let the characters reveal themselves to us naturally. Allow the reader to be surprised. Once again, trust the reader.

The real shame of all this is that so much of this can be fixed. It really can be fixed. I’ve seen far less well-written pieces shine after careful editing and revision. The grammar is unacceptable. There is no real rhyme or reason behind the author’s use of the comma — it is used more as a caesura than anything else. The author could also go through the text and switch the narrative to limited 3rd person, which would probably clean up most of the show vs. tell issues.

Note that I really feel this deserves a 2.5 on the Goodreads scale, but I am rounding up in hopes that the author will revisit the text or pass it along to a good editor.

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“Mr Leopold Bloom ate with relish the inner organs of beasts and fowls. He liked thick giblet soup, nutty gizzards, a stuffed roast heart, liverslices fried with crustcrumbs, fried hencods’ roes. Most of all he liked grilled mutton kidneys which gave to his palate a fine tang of faintly scented urine.”
― James JoyceUlysses

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