|Hazard of Shadows - Mike Phillips|
I was brought up reading novels from the fantasy genre; living with my mum you kind of had no choice on that. As a result, I've always had a fondness for the category as a whole and when I discovered Mike Phillips first book, The World Below, I knew I'd stumbled upon something great.
Not your traditional fantasy book - there be no dragons here. Hazard of Shadows tells of a goblin underworld, existing in parallel to that of our own. By the end of the first book, Mitch Hardy has unwillingly taken on the role of king of the world below and I couldn't wait to see how he would deal with this.
Mike's writing style is probably the thing I find most enjoyable about his books. There's huge attention to detail and yet the narrative flows so nicely - one of those books I started reading and finished within one afternoon. I'd definitely recommend to anyone who enjoys books about unlikely heroes and alternate universes.
Mike has prepared a guest post on his goblin characters as well, which I wanted to share:
Hello everyone, and thank you for reading my guest post. My name is Mike Phillips and my new book is Hazard of Shadows. I have been asked to talk about some of the more interesting characters in the book, the goblins.
In folklore and literature, goblins have always been evil creatures. To this day, goblins are hiding in our closets and under our beds. They are wicked monsters that are no happier than when they are burning fields or robbing cradles. Living on the fringes of society as they must to avoid camera phones and governmental laboratories, goblins lead harsh lives. Once they have been won over, goblins are the best sort of friends. They may have terrible manners, they may say awful things, they may smell bad, but we can all be that way sometimes. In the end, my use of goblins helps us see the best in humanity.
Writing about goblins was a riot! Goblins live on the fringes of human society. They make their homes in junk yards, abandoned buildings, sewer systems, and anywhere else people try to avoid. Once they find a likely spot, the get to work. Goblins are clever with tools and machinery. They will use and repurpose anything they can get their hands on, so many of their dwellings look like they were designed by frat-boys. Not always the best of neighbors, goblins have to take security seriously. They construct elaborate pitfalls to keep themselves safe from enemies like collapsing tunnels, pongee pits, and mechanical traps.
Goblins, like their human counterparts, each have a unique personality. They live in what they call crews, a sort of family, a lot like college dorm-mates. Each goblin has a special skill. One might be a bully (a most desirable skill in the goblin world). Another might be crafty at making traps. Some use sorcery or poison. Others are good at machinery. Some just eat a lot (another desirable skill). Goblins, in general, have a loose sense of morality. If it doesn’t hurt another member of the crew, with the obvious exception of fighting, then it’s usually okay. Fighting is always acceptable behavior, though if an enemy is around, a goblin is expected to stop fighting the other crew member and start fighting the enemy. Common sense rules like that are the cornerstone of goblin society.
That brings us to the topic of goblin social structure. Goblin society is feudal. They organize in crews, bound by familial ties or friendship. These associations are loosely formed, and if a goblin wants to go it alone, no one holds a grudge. A crew may have two or three leaders at a time. It is not unusual for goblins to disagree, so sometimes they have no real leader at all. Though they fight with each other like crazy, but they are deeply loyal in times of trouble and would do anything for the other members of their crew. No female goblins appear in Hazard of Shadows, but that is a topic for another time.
People have been asking how to make friends with goblins, so I thought I’d wrap things up by talking about that. Goblins are monsters, after all. To begin with, don’t look like a victim. They are predators. If you run they will chase you down. The secret to making friends with goblins is not to treat them like animals. They won’t be trained and can’t be suckered. Think of them as that particularly feisty aunt that always speaks her mind. So if you want to make a goblin your friend, it’s best to start with an act of kindness. Goblins have hard lives and even a small act of kindness means a lot to them. In the book, Mitch does a favor for a goblin without even knowing it. In turn, the goblin rescues Mitch from a pan dimensional, man-eating dumpster. Friends like that are hard to find!
Thank you so much for joining me. I hope you enjoy Hazard of Shadows and The World Below. Please visit me at mikephillipsfantasy.com.