The Fallen Star (Billy Smith And The Goblins #2), by Robert Hewitt Wolfe
[Note: This book was provided free of charge by Edelweiss/Turner Publishing Company. All thoughts and opinions are my own.]
Having read and enjoyed the first book of this trilogy , I found much that was intriguing about the way that this book presents goblins and their interactions with human beings . To be sure, there is a deeper point behind this work, especially in the way that the author consistently portrays the forces of light as the enemy in an alliance with the goblin forces of the night as well as the heretical and dualistic celestials with their belief in the balance between light and dark. I myself am a firm believer in the ultimate triumph of light over darkness, and this firm biblical commitment makes me more than a little bit concerned about the way that the book deals with the issues of good and evil in our world as well as others. The fact that it portrays the Goblins as more or less hopeless without their alliance with human beings, even though their species has troubled relations with human beings has a paternalistic air to it that may bother some adult readers, although the appealing and diverse mix of characters is generally appealing and the book seems tailor made for adaptation.
The plot of this book is both complicated as well as straightforward. It is straightforward that nearly all of the action takes place in and around the goblin capital city, which is dug into a volcano. One would not normally consider this to be a good idea but it works out here. There are epic battles, a great deal of poignant death and punishment, and an ending that sets up the next novel nicely. The author is clearly familiar with fantasy literature as well as with YA literature and manages to keep the action well-paced and also to provide for numerous cliffhangers that keep the tension high until the very end. Although the book is almost 400 pages, it reads pretty quickly and promises to be an excellent work for teens interested in fantasy. The heroes at the middle of the story are, as always, appealing, from the awkward bi-racial king of the Goblins himself to the fiery but somewhat frail Filipino Lexi to Kurt the all-American football quarterback who seems rather like this novel’s third wheel even if he does enjoy some adventures here.
There is much to enjoy here, of course. The book includes a pronunciation guide and some maps, and ends with an expectation not necessarily of battle but with a lengthy journey and a struggle for someone to fit in who has not particularly fit in very well though his entire life. The book plays with concerns about death and resurrection, as well as what it means to be a success, and the tension between fate and free will. Although I have some serious reservations about the framing that this novel takes, I must admit that I find a great deal about it to be appealing as a reader if one looks at the plot and characterization, as there is a lot to be said here about heroism. This is a book that should be very appealing for younger readers and is written seriously and thoughtfully enough that it ought to please adult readers who enjoy a bit of sword and sorcery fantasy as well. About the only thing missing here is a great deal of romance, and even here there is some even if it is rather subdued and limited. You can’t please everyone, though.
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