When I found out about the Eventide kickstarter campaign, a wonderful sci-fi/fantasy writer from the south-west of England called Daniel Beazley had put together, I also found out about his fantasy novel, Goblins Know Best. But of course, I couldn’t get behind the Eventide campaign without knowing a little bit more about the works of Daniel. So I reached out to him and lo and behold, I received a box as he sent me a review copy of this awesome comedy fantasy!
Since reviewing literature is relatively new to me (I normally interview people, but we’ve already interviewed Daniel on here), rather than doing another interview with him, we’re going to review the novel. I thought I’d break this down into several sections, starting of with a bit of information on Daniel himself, then going straight into the review.
This is the debut novel of Daniel Beazley, the award winner of the Fantasy Faction Anthology of 2012. He was born and raised in the South-West of England (sound familiar to our regular readers?) Since his debut, Daniel has gone ahead and made a Kickstarter to produce audiobooks for his existing Sepherene Chronicles series of books. In a short space of time, he’s found his footing as an author and has even dabbled with other ways to get his stories out there.
his love for writing followed him when he went and joined the army, as well as when he went to work for the police. He begun writing in 1996 and says that some of his biggest influences include Tolkien, Feist, Gemmell, Lewis, Livingstone and Dever.
From a personal point of view, I’ve found Daniel to be incredibly polite and easy to talk to. He’s great to have a chat with and he really appreciates hearing from fans of his works. It’s with this in mind, that I’m going to give you some links to his social media and his website:
You can pick up a copy of Goblins Know Best for the Kindle at £2.40.
Paperback retails for £6.99.
Paperback: 372 pages.
Kindle: 220 pages.
Goodreads book page.
Goblins Know Best is a humorous fantasy novel set in a traditional fantasy setting, where goblins, orcs, trolls and gnomes roam the world along with humans. The cast ranges from greenskins that inhabit the lands, such as Bogrot Blistertooth and Gorag Bather (the books protagonists), to humans such as the kindly adoptive mother, Gert. The unlikely duo of Bogrot and Gorag set forth, meeting some strange characters and constantly finding themselves doing odd tasks in their misadventures.
The book is satirical in tone, giving the reader some little parts of flavour text to go along with it. As such, both Joel and myself came to the same conclusion that the writers style was a lot like Pratchett’s, but not quite as heavy to read. Whilst we’re both huge fans of Pratchett, we’re aware that he is a heavy read for some people. Thankfully, that’s where Daniel shines as a writer. He’s able to describe things not only in a humorous way, but in a way that you understand the logic of the world he’s painting. He’s able to do so with an easy to read narrative and that’s all thanks to the awesome characters he’s dreamt up.
- The use of “extra” bits of information.
- Use of Bogrot’s voice as a narrator.
- Great sense of humour.
The novel left me from start to finish a really interested and engaged reader. During the whole book, I never felt like there was a dull moment where I wanted to put it down. It was a proper fantasy collection of stories of Bogrot and Gorag’s (mis-)adventures.
“Extra bits of information” – I compared Daniels writing to a “lot like Pratchetts”. That might be because Daniel (or perhaps Bogrot) is very generous with giving you the extra details in sections you can gloss over if you want. They come in the form of parentheses next to the subject in question. Whilst Pratchett practices footnotes at the bottom of his pages, Daniel just inserts the extra information he wants to give you next to the piece he wants to expand upon. They explain more about the world that, quite frankly, is very different to our own. It allows you to fully appreciate why things are they way they are.
“Bogrot’s voice as a narrator” – One of the biggest themes you get throughout the collection of stories are the constant use of Bogrot being your narrator. This gives you a different perspective than “Bogrot said”. Instead you’re left with a really clever mechanic, allowing you to feel as if you’re part of the action with Bogrot. You also get to understand the somewhat cynical views of Bogrot and exactly what he thinks of those around him. It’s a great way to build the character, who comes across as bright but ultimately weary. He knows how the world works, even if he is an odd little chef.
WARNING: Minor spoilers incoming
“Great sense of humour” – This part should be self explanatory, but I will break this down by the introduction of a character. Bogrot is made aware that his buddy, Gorag, is in grave danger. As Bogrot sets off to go and help his friend, he buys two horses… One just so he could chop it up and put it in a nice stew and the other to actually ride to the trouble. On his journey, Bogrot finds himself talking to the remaining horse, who happens to be a talking horse! This horse doesn’t have a very good perspective on her circumstances and she is aptly named Mona Lott. It’s a simple introduction to a relatively simple character, but the banter between Mona and Bogrot is simply enthralling and believable… Which is why it makes for such good comedy. You believe the world you’re reading, so the predicament that Mona is in helps you understand the character and enjoy how she’s presented. Even if she’s just a horse!
WARNING OVER: I said it was minor
- Front matter (first page) and the back of the book have a typing error on Gorag’s name (Calling him Garog).
- Young writing voice (Let me explain that one).
Okay, so I’ve spoken about how good the book is and I’m very happy to point out that this guy, if he kept this style up, could be the next Pratchett. It’s a strong statement to make, but I honestly believe that his writing reads as friendly and as humorous as Pratchett, but it doesn’t have the the same heaviness of Pratchett novels. As such, this means his works would be quite easy to share with friends who aren’t necessarily literature fans.
“Garog, not Gorag” – The only criticism I truly have is with the back page and the very first page, the front matter, it appears that whoever had written this has put Gorag as “Garog“. Now, this doesn’t detract from the story at all, because the story itself doesn’t have this mistake anywhere, but it seemed strange this small error was on the first page of the front matter and the back page. Normally, a mistake would just be on one page, but as I say, this appears in two locations. It’s a simple oversight which doesn’t happen in the book.
“Young writing voice” – Other than this then, perhaps the writing style is a bit too simple for some people. Now, from my point of view: I loved it. I can imagine most of the people I know would love the heck out of this novel as it’s a proper fantasy novel filled with some amazing characters and proper fantasy creatures. However, for the serious fantasy fanatic, you’re not getting an epic fantasy. You’re getting a funny, silly little story about how Bogrot met Gorag… And how their lives changed through being around one another. Honestly, if you’re looking for a serious story, this isn’t it. If you’re looking for a fun, easy to pick up story, this is it.
I personally loved it. I loved the journey of hearing Bogrot go from his initial friend and partner, Barlek, to being best buddies with his brutish Orc friend. The few criticisms I gave above are ridiculously minor. The point of the misprinted name really isn’t a problem. It’s something that they can address for future prints… And to be honest, I’d probably even say you could work around it by saying “it’s a satirical book…”
The point of the young writing voice really isn’t much of a criticism at all. In fact if used correctly, this could be a major selling point of his. I know I was reading around reviews of the novel and other people were under the impression that the writing voice of the book was rather young. It could just be that was how Daniel intended it to be and as I say, it left me satisfied. It left me enjoying the world more than if it were more serious.
Overall, I’m very happy with the novel. It’s left some truly wildly imaginable characters in my mind and honestly, some of them I would love to see revisited in future novels. I noticed this was book 1 in a series called Trivial Trials, so hopefully we’ll be getting some more Bogrot and Gorag in our lives. Everything that was in this story left me hungry for more, which is more than can be said about a lot of books. I managed to consume the whole book in a matter of days, because I was enjoying the story so much. Whether it was the infectious style of having Bogrot tell us what’s happening from his perspective, or if Daniel is just a word wizard, I will certainly be coming back for more.
Competition **NOW CLOSED**
Now it’s your chance for some fun.
We’re giving away two free copies of Goblins Know Best. If you want to be in with a chance of winning one of the two free copies, you will need to go to our Facebook page. Not only will you be getting a copy of Goblins Know Best, but you’ll also be getting a personal letter from myself, Timlah! … What? Doesn’t that excite you? Oh, I see how it is…
All you have to do is like the Facebook page and give us a comment on the post entitled –COMPETITION– – A duo of names befitting a Goblin and an Orc. You’re not allowed to use the names Bogrot Blistertooth and Gorag Bather. Well known Goblin and Orc names are welcomed, but Joel and I will be judging who has come up with the best Goblin and Orc names, as well as how well the two fit together.
You have until midday on Thursday 4th to get your answers in and we will be announcing the winners via Facebook and on the GeekOut South-West website. The prizes will be sent out as soon as we then get a postal address off the winners (Don’t give us any details unless you’re one of the lucky winners!)
What do you all think of Goblins Know Best? I’m glad to have read this novel from an exciting new author. It’s been a journey (somewhat literally, with how the book reads) but it’s been one I’d gladly take again. As always, comments below, over on Facebook or Twitter and let me know what you thought about this review. Has this made you want to read it for yourself? What do you think of the price point (£2.40 on Kindle, £6.99 paperback)?