By Sam King
Farlaine the Goblin Book 4 continues the story of Farlaine, a goblin trying to find his own forest to care for where he can plant the tree he has been carrying for the previous three books. Farlaine is growing as a character now and continuing his journey across the Oddlands of Wug.
This book contains Farlaine’s adventures in the Twistlands, where there are twisters of all sizes and twist catchers. Farlaine loses his tree friend, Ehrenwort in a twist quickly after entering the land and spends the book trying to catch up to the dowager of twists. She is the biggest and fastest twist, but in her center, things that get caught in her seem mostly safe. The hardest part is catching her. Farlaine and his companion, Tink, set out with two twistcatchers to catch the Dowager and save Ehrenwort. Along the way they go to a “hotel” which is a large faceless creature, that seems more like a landscape feature. The hotel requires stories be told to it for travelers to stay and rest. The twistcatchers ran out of stories so they are hoping Farlaine and Tink have good enough stories so they all can stay. We learn more about the history of the Tink people and learn more about Farlaine’s adventures.
This story is still fun and lighthearted. The artwork is still good. It is black and white and the panel setup is reminiscent of classic comic strips, but everything is distinguishable and the drawings are well done. I like the mix of plainer panels with very focused points on characters and dialogue, with broad panels that show the landscape, terrain, and scope of the world the story takes place in. It is a very detailed story and I applaud the creator’s effort.
The thing that I liked most about this particular volume is the arc that Farlaine is taking as a character. When we first met him, he was very nervous and easily frightened. He was also quickly disheartened by events. Now he seems sure of himself and while not finding a forest is still disheartening, he continues to push through with his search. The loss of Ehrenwort in this part of his adventure really forces Farlaine to take charge and show some major agency. He has more distinct purpose and even courage. Instead of cowering or crying, he plows onward for a friend. The book puts a lot of importance on the power of friendship and not traveling alone. Meeting new creatures has worked out rather well for Farlaine, as he has gotten new help and insight into the lands he is in and the obstacles that each presents. Farlaine’s improvement as a character is really great to see, since at first it is a little tough to handle. Not to sound bad, but he was a major wimp to start with. He was cute, but so easily scared and now he is really someone that readers can root for. I am very curious to see how the last half of his journey shapes him and where he will be at the end.
This is a great story to enjoy with a family, particularly those who enjoy fantasy. The book is well drawn and each land has fun, imaginative challenges that are distinct from those in previous lands visited by Farlaine. The title character has also grown significantly since the first book, without losing the core of who he is, which makes the journey more enjoyable and satisfying. While this book isn’t inherently revolutionary, it does mark a shift in Farlaine’s development that is worth noting.