I finally got around to reading it today, 24 Jan 2012, mostly because I was so completely tickled by Hines' blog post in which he attempted to replicate stupid poses from genre fiction covers.
I'm really glad I finally read it, although when I buy more books by Hines (which I anticipate doing later today), it will be in e-form. It was, honestly, a little weird reading a mass market paperback. I still read p-form books, but usually they are non-fiction (frequently used, and generally unavailable in e-form) and almost never mmpbs. I had forgotten how incredibly unergonomic this particular format really is.
The protagonist of _Goblin Quest_, unsurprisingly, is a goblin, an unusually small and omega-type goblin, target of opportunity for goblin bullies which is how he happens to be the completely inadequate guard kidnapped by a party of D&D adventurers which includes two princelings (one a mage and an archer), a young, female elf, and a dwarf former-tutor with some magic through his god. Jig, the goblin, has a pet fire spider named Smudge.
Jig's an observer, constantly filing away information for future use. He's also depressed, with low self-esteem and kinda down on his whole species as well, partly because goblins share his position in the larger world. But the observer characteristic, along with the ability to take what he learns and put it to use in a crisis, lead Jig to accomplish many of the major goals of the quest and allow him to save himself, his people, and Golaka's spoon. That latter being, probably, the most important -- altho it's a tough call.
The book is not often laugh-out-loud funny. The humor doesn't go for bad puns nor is it all about setting up a tableau that is wildly amusing (altho a few of those do happen). Hines walks a fine line by depicting the princelings as being the way they are as a result of the way they were raised, but it works, because people with that particular kind of attachment disorder tend to be unsympathetic in real life, too, especially when they've got money/power/resources and use it to destroy everything around them. I wouldn't want someone reading this book to think it is Serious, tho, with Meaning and Commentary on Morals, Ethics and Whatnot. If you can get past Jig being so hard on himself in the first few dozen pages, it's a great read and the development of his friendship with the elf and his relationship with his adopted deity is fantastic.