Brangwain Spurge is an historian, and an elf. Proud to research and document centuries of elvish beauty, elegance, transcendence, and (obvious) superiority, he is especially thrilled to have been chosen as emissary and ambassador for peace between his people and the goblins, with home the elves have long been at war. Shot in a barrel via giant crossbow over the Bonecruel Mountains to the goblin capital city, Spurge’s mission is to deliver a recently discovered (in the the king’s new wading pool), ancient, goblin-made gemstone as a gift to the goblin king and overlord, Ghohg the Evil One. While there, he is also to gather and send back information and intelligence on goblin society, culture, customs, and, oh yes, the source of their power.
Werfel is an archivist and a goblin. He too is thrilled to have been chosen to host the elf as a guest in his home and show him the delights and marvelous history of goblin-kind, especially after the recent war between goblins and elves left so much devastation in its wake. He is to entertain Magister Spurge and inspect the gemstone while they both await an audience with the goblin king, Ghohg the Protector. Not an easy task, certainly, with centuries of war and distrust between their peoples, but Werfel is nothing if not an excellent host – and fully committed to upholding ancient goblin traditions of loyalty and honor. Even if the honored guest is, Werfel is quite sure, not only spying and sending secret messages back to the elves, but supremely under-appreciative of goblin culture. In fact, Magister Spurge is sanctimonious, sneering, superior, and completely annoying in almost every way, but a good host must soldier on.
The gemstone, however, is not what it seems, a fact that both Werfel and Brangwain are woefully unaware of. When things come to a head and Brangwain and Werfel find themselves on the run from two kingdoms, will they be able to find a way to stop arguing, survive the Bonecruel Mountains, and save the world?
Elves? Goblins? A super-cute ichthyod (sort of a bat with tentacles – adorable!!)? Award-winning authors of amazingness M.T. Anderson and Eugene Yelchin teaming up to write a tale of a historian and an archivist caught up in centuries of war and distrust between two very different (or perhaps not so different) magical creatures? Illustrations and prose combining to tell one epic story? A book that can best be described as Tolkien meets Brian Selznick, with a lot of extra sarcasm? Yes, please!! I’ve been excited for this since I read the first reviews, and it was just as awesome as I wanted it to be. Shortlisted for this year’s National Book Award for Young People’s Literature, this tale of first impressions, misunderstandings, and evil alien overlords that love to dance is the perfect blend of humor, (mis)adventure, snark, and sharp social commentary. So sharpen your sword – and your wit – and get ready for a wild ride through the making of (goblin) history in The Assassination of Brangwain Spurge!