The Goblin Invasion by Dan DeBono (A Book of the Lands: Book 1)

Young Djar, son of the Duke of Mahhrain, is spared by goblin invaders after the murder of his father. His unwelcome task is to help keep order in the conquered city. Escaping with his constant companion, Kara the sprite, he embarks on a perilous journey to find the powerful but reclusive sorceress Salana.

One of my favorite moments in The Goblin Invasion is DeBono’s opening chapter when the eerie, fat and repulsively ugly Goblin sits back on Djar’s father’s throne, his eyes “shiny yellow, his iris and pupils both very cat-like” and says “Princeling, you are alive for one reason… you are instructed to have people refrain from all forms of civil disobedience.” The quest opens dramatically with our hero’s decision to avenge the tragic death of his parents, as well as the defeat of his people, by seeking assistance from the reclusive Sorceress Serena to combat the evil Goblins. Djar is an amenable hero and readers follow the quest with interest from the beginning. Yet more of the imaginatively observed detail evident in the opening could have sharpened the focus of the novel.

Parallels to DeBono’s Goblin’s invasion exist in the real world with the unsuccessful appeasement policy and the division of states after the Great War, as well as the mass extermination of the Sprites could be paralleled to the extermination of the Jews. DeBono’s war has left Djar without his royal parents and in a complex role of mediation between the Goblins and the citizens.

Now let’s talk magic for The Goblin Invasion contains De Bono’s special brand of sorcery and enchanted weapons. The reclusive sorceress Salana defines the parameters of much of DeBono’s magic. She pulverizes the crow with a pulse of energy but insists that only the bird is dead, not the sorcerer Fralgarzener himself, but only the essence contained within the bird—so Debono’s magic has limits. In fact, much of Salana’s skill is akin to that of the magician—transforming our hitherto ordinarily attired One Who Would Be King, Djar and his love interest, the quintessential Sprite Kara, into armored royal warriors. DeBono writes of Kara: “She donned a black tooled-leather doublet with wine-coloured heavy cloth sleeves,” and is transformed into a regal warrior princess. If Djar is also regal, De Bono endows him with exemplary sword mastery, and with his enchanted blade, Dybol, a treasure inherited from his forefathers. At the suggestion of Sorceress Salana, Djar gives Kara a fencing lesson where the two exchange moves. Yet our royal orphan hero is not proud but humble and disbelieving of the waypriest prophecy that would anoint him The One.

Dybol, Djar’s blade, a potent magical force in the novel, is always ready to assist heroic Djar during battle. Yet Dybol is just one weapon in the armory, for there are blades forged by the Sorceress Salana “which are also wondrous, but will not cut through an enchanted blade—at least one well crafted by a master sorcerer…with potent spells of protection.” So within DeBono’s magical armory, we have an array of powerful weapons, choreographed into exciting fight scenes.

DeBono’s novel is an entertaining quest. His settings, his storms, his zombies, his demons, his sorcerers present exciting obstacles and challenges for his heroes, and his novel comes to life during the fight scenes.

7/10 DeBono's novel is an entertaining quest that comes to life during the fight scenes.

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7/10 from 1 reviews

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