Thursday, January 5, 2017

The Goblin's Puzzle by Andrew S. Chilton

The Goblin's Puzzle: The Adventures of a Boy With No Name and Two Girls Called AlliceMy name is... actually, I don't have a name. I've run away from my master, but I keep thinking that I'm still a slave. I rescued a goblin, and he's reluctantly granted me three vows (He insisted I keep two for myself, but I still wanted to grant to my master). One vow forces him to always tell me the truth, but it's all very confusing. He says I'm not a slave, but I'm still a slave. What? I know I must defeat three monsters and save a princess, because that's how it's told in all the Tales. My first quest was to free Princess Alice from an ogre, but she turned out to be Plain Alice. The real princess was captured by a dragon, but the dragon is being controlled by an evil sorcerer. I must save her from the beast, but Plain Alice has made me promise to not hurt the dragon. How is a simple boy like me supposed to do that? I didn't find out until later, but the princess's uncle has put a spell on the dragon and is trying to take over the kingdom. I must free the princess, because I've promised on my honor to do it. However, I must figure out some way to prove I'm not a slave, or I'll be hanged when this all over.

This book is a finalist for the 2016 Cybils Award in Elementary and Middle Grade Speculative Fiction. The main character is very endearing, even though he doesn't have a name! He feels like he has no control over his life, but he has a great sense of honor and doing what's right. Actually, a major theme in this book addresses the issue of fate versus control of one's life. Many of the boy's decisions are influenced by the belief that his fate is to remain a slave, but Plain Alice continuously points out the illogical thinking. Another big theme deals with the concept of slavery. The boy supports it because that's all he's ever known, but the other main characters believe it's wrong for any human to own another human.

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