Goblin Slayer Review Light Novel Volumes 5 + 6

The Endless Cycle of Rookie Mistakes

I don’t normally review volumes together unless they are clearly two parts of the same story with no resolution in between, however when I finished reading volume 5 of Goblin Slayer I was kind of at a loss as to what to write and so I simply stacked the book to the side and waited. Many months later I read volume 6 and suddenly felt a need to write about the books so here we are.

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Goblin Slayer, Vol. 5 (light novel)
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Volume 5

I’m going to point out that volume 5 is actually quite a good story. The reason I’m saying that straight up is that it is probably going to sound very soon like I didn’t enjoy it but to be honest most of my issues with it are issues with the series as a whole that have been building and have nothing to do with the individual volume.

The story focuses on Noble Fencer who was out on a job to take care of some goblins and completely stuffed it up by underestimating goblin resourcefulness and sneakiness. As a result, her party has been killed and she’s taken captive by the primitive cult of goblins in the north. Naturally Goblin Slayer and friends are recruited to go rescue her.

As I said, nothing wrong with the story. The problem is, that this is almost the same story as Priestesses introduction only spread out longer and with more tenacious goblins thrown in. That’s kind of the point. Goblins keep doing the same things over and over and adventurers keep underestimating them. Yet while I appreciate the point I found the basic story less enjoyable because there just isn’t enough novelty five volumes in to keep this feeling fresh.

Still, the action is solid, the characters within the party continue to bounce well off one another, and the story concludes well within the volume so there’s little to really complain about. That said, I was contemplating leaving this series here feeling I’ve taken all I can from it.

Volume 6

After my mixed feelings around volume 5 and whether this series had anything more to offer, I went into volume 6 with a little bit of hesitation. I am really glad I did go into it though.

This volume turns its attention very much onto the Priestess as she’s now been with the group for a year. Her growth over that time has been impressive and she’s been in some very dangerous situations. Despite that, this volume begins with her missing out on advancement at the guild as there’s the thought that maybe all the strong adventurers she’s travelling with are actually carrying her through these encounters.

So begins an effort to give the Priestess opportunities to show her own strengths including having Goblin Slayer and the others take orders from her during a mission.

It is a minor shake up to the usual formula and yet it is enough. Not to mention, Priestess as a character has experienced the most growth (as all the other characters were fairly well developed when they were met and Priestess was such a rookie) and so seeing her get the limelight was very nice.

While it might seem trite, I also liked the inclusion of the Wizard Boy. His older sister had died a year ago on a quest to kill goblins and he’s very much out for revenge. It is pretty clear that the older sister was probably one of Priestess’ original party members that got wiped out but they don’t make a big deal of that. Instead, this volume focuses on teaching Wizard Boy, and indeed many of the rookie adventurers, how to stay alive.

That becomes particularly necessary when the newly built training grounds get attacked by a goblin horde at night.

With the training grounds having been built on the site of Goblin Slayers home village there’s more than enough personal drama and stakes in this story to really lift is beyond just basic goblin slaying and while the basic formula established in this series hasn’t changed, this volume seemed to breathe a bit of life back into it.

Anyway, it was enough that I’m going to read the next one as I’d really like to know what happens next.

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Goblin Slayer, Vol. 5 (light novel)
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Karandi James
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Goblin Slayer Volume 4 Light Novel Review

Goblin Slayer Volume 4 Cover Image

The party are all doing their own thing in this volume and in the end we get small vignettes of characters living in this world.

While the first three Goblin Slayer books have jumped around a little bit between adventures and quests and some slice of life stuff, the fourth volume really does feel more like a collection of short stories loosely connected via the setting and the cast. Expect no epic goblin slaying antics in this one, as we follow Rookie Warrior and Apprentice Priestess into the sewers (a story that appeared in the anime much earlier on in the timeline), Goblin Slayer doing his solo goblin slaying thing, some shopping, drinking and other mundane tasks, and the defeat of a necromancer.

Goblin Slayer - Rookie Warrior and Apprentice Priestess

If that all seems horribly unfocused (and it didn’t even cover everything) then you have a fair idea of the reading experience. I found this volume worked best when I read a chapter (or story) and then stopped for the day, picking it up later to read another story. There was no real flow or connection between sections but each story on its own was kind of interesting enough.

While Goblin Slayer features in a number of the stories, there are plenty of moments for other characters, both major ones like Priestess and High Elf Archer, and more background characters like Heavy Knight, get some time to be developed as characters. It all adds to the sense that this is a world, real and whole and these characters don’t just cease to exist when their adventures end. Their lives continue off-screen or off-page so to speak and this volume very much feels like a glimpse at some of that down time (and not so down time when you see what Goblin Slayer is still getting up to).

Goblin Slayer - Yep, he's slaying goblins
Is this down time?

Now, when you get the end and read the afterward, the scattered feeling of the book really makes sense as the author explains that this collection of stories take place largely between volumes 1 and 2 or volumes 2 and 3. So at least that disconnected feel was deliberate.

This one I’d recommend if you are really into the setting of Goblin Slayer and would love more of the support cast. However, if you are wanting the grand adventure, I would simply skip this one and head to volume 5 (review coming soon) because honestly it is a much stronger narrative and one that is really exciting to read (can’t wait to review it). I had fun with this because I do really enjoy the world of Goblin Slayer but again, this wasn’t the greatest of reads as a whole.

Goblin Slayer - High Elf Archer and Guild Girl

That said, I’d love to know your thoughts if you’ve read this one, and there are definitely some fun stories in here, so if you enjoy sharp, short stories featuring these characters this one will probably entertain.

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Goblin Slayer Vol. 4 (light novel)
Goblin Slayer Vol. 4 (light novel)

Goblin Slayer Volume 3 Light Novel Review: It’s A Date, And Goblins

The Harvest Festival is on its way and all the female adventurers and friends suddenly have one thing on their mind. Too bad Goblin Slayer only ever has one thing on his mind – killing goblins.

Review:

Of the three volumes I’ve read so far, this one is probably the weakest. And that’s because instead of feeling like we were on some epic adventure (albeit to fight goblins), this one genuinely felt like we were reading a harem based light novel with a wishy-washy protagonist, girls who have no purpose outside of their pursuit of him, and ultimately a conflict that felt like it was thrown in at the end for the sake of having a final fight. And while none of that makes this a terrible read, it certainly wasn’t as compelling as previous entries.

However, the positive would be that Goblin Slayer is given more time to become a bit more humanised in this volume. He’s still the enigma and still has complete tunnel vision for goblin killing, but his interactions with the rest of the cast help to paint a broader picture of his overall personality when removed from blowing up goblin nests. Priestess also comes out of this volume looking reasonably good with her being able to showcase how far she’s grown since the opening of volume 1 where she was the scared little girl in need of rescue.

Goblin Slayer Vol3b

Unfortunately, the rest of the cast, whether it is Guild Girl, Female Knight, Cow Girl, High Elf Archer or Witch, they all just come off looking pretty vapid and silly as they scurry about trying to attract this or that guy’s interest at the festival. Then again, it isn’t as though Dwarf Shaman or Lizard Priest come off any better. While they aren’t trying to attract a partner they seem to spend almost two thirds of the book doing nothing but taking part in various eating and drinking activities.

And that’s more or less the whole problem. Even though Goblin Slayer is preparing for something from the beginning, it is easily dismissed as his usual eccentric paranoia and doesn’t really count as foreshadowing. The disgruntled adventurer is an obvious flag early on, but it doesn’t amount to very much. So by the time things start happening and the much needed goblins arrive (needed because how can he be Goblin Slayer if there are no goblins), the reader is more or less suffering from festival fatigue and it is almost a relief to see the town plunged into danger.

The danger itself though never feels all that real. Unlike in the previous volumes where the Goblins attacked either a farm that was pretty remote or were underground, here they attack a town. There’s very little reason why our plucky adventurers seem to be fighting without back-up given how many adventurers are in the town (and I don’t care how drunk they claim they might be after the festival), and yet the book insists on having the core group take on much larger numbers by themselves. While it is an excellent showcase of their abilities, it kind of pushes plausibility and after a fairly dull set-up it isn’t really much of a payoff.

So I left this volume with mixed feelings because there are some great character moments here for Goblin Slayer and Priestess and the final fight is actually kind of exciting even if it makes little sense in context, but there’s just too much down time here and too many female characters being too cliche female character from a light novel. I’m hoping the next volume picks back up because if this is an ongoing trend with this series I may very well let this one go and that would be a shame. It has been a lot of fun up until this point.

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If you’re interested in reading Goblin Slayer Volume 3 it is available on the Book Depository.

Goblin Slayer Volume 2 Light Novel Review: It’s Always Goblins

Goblin Slayer has quite the reputation now and in this volume he’s answering a quest request from the Sword Maiden herself, a Gold-ranked adventurer who apparently fought a Demon Lord.

Review:

While this second volume doesn’t quite have the drawing power of the first, it is a very decent follow up. There is an understanding that while the protagonist is cool and all, he can’t carry the story alone, and so a lot of energy has been put into the support cast. And even while many of these characters do come off a little too one-note at times, they are all quite interesting notes and the interactions between them are always kind of fun.

The reason this novel works so well is that the readers have a soft spot for this cast. We’ve watched them come together and fight off a horde of goblins with a lot of risk and very little reward. We like these characters already and we don’t want them to die. So when the story plunges them headlong into danger there’s an instant hook to make us keep reading. Because even though I know there are plenty of novels to come and therefore it is very unlikely that the main cast are going to die here, abandoning the story when they were still stranded in a sewer never really crossed my mind as a viable option.

Goblin Slayer Vol2b

If I had to complain about any character in this particular volume, it would be the Sword Maiden. I’m not really sure what they were going for. At times she seems super seductive, at others she’s the fragile and damaged adventurer, and others still she just does not seem like she’s a real character. And given she’s the catalyst for the adventure in this volume that’s probably the book’s weakest link.

However, once the quest is accepted and the characters are on their way through the tunnels and facing some fairly hairy situations, using arrows, swords, slings, magic, and whatever else is handy to survive the next encounter, the story moves along beautifully. There’s some fairly tense moments in the darkness and as the characters do come under heavy fire and several of them do sustain some fairly heavy injuries considering they are the main party – a feat the book only gets away with because there’s magic around so ultimately they manage to get the cast back on their feet before the final act.

Basically, if you enjoyed the first story, and you are up for another adventure fighting off a horde of goblins who may have learned a couple of new tricks, then this story will work for you. The writing style remains much the same and is quite enjoyable, the characters are still pretty fun, and the fight sequences manage to be exciting without getting too hectic. I had a lot of fun with this second volume and I’ll be reviewing volume 3 very soon.

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Karandi James
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Goblin Slayer Volume 1 Light Novel Review: A True Specialist

Overview:

In a world where the gods grew bored of playing games and so created men and demons and dwarves and elves and goblins in order to play an even better game, adventurers know that they might die on a quest. Priestess knows this as she joins her first party and they venture out to hunt some goblins, but the reality is something else again. The whole party are wiped out save for the Priestess who is saved by a man known only as Goblin Slayer.

Review:

Now this was a great read from start to finish. Admittedly, the prologue about the gods and rolling the dice had me worried I was in for another fantasy world based on game mechanics (not that I dislike those but I really am growing a little weary of them), but then the story got started for real and I pretty much devoured this book. It is a great adventure story with plenty of action but it doesn’t hesitate to plunge the reader into the truly yucky parts of adventuring (and that includes covering your armour in goblin blood to avoid detection – ugh).

A few minor criticisms to get out of the way and then I will get back to raving about why I had so much fun reading this one.

Firstly, the names. None of the characters have them. They are Warrior, Goblin Slayer, Guild Girl, Lizard Priest, etc, etc. Admittedly, you don’t get confused as each character is distinct enough in personality and role, and the majority of the time you are following Goblin Slayer and Priestess, but really names are not that difficult.

Secondly, midway along in the book there’s some huge world ending threat that gets mentioned and is dealt with almost entirely off-screen so to speak. We get a few updates of bits and pieces about it, but because Goblin Slayer only cares about slaying goblins, he has no interest in that aspect of what is going on and so there’s this whole grand adventure that was probably pretty cool that we will never see. As much as  I enjoyed Goblin Slayer’s adventures, I kind of wanted to know more about the demons and the what-not that were causing havoc elsewhere.

GoblinSlayer1b

However, outside of that, Goblin Slayer is a great read. The tone of the narration worked really well for me as it kind of had a knowing and tongue in cheek approach to sending new adventurers off, most likely to their deaths. The way the goblins are described with a mix of both fear and disdain works perfectly in the narrative. Even Goblin Slayer is built up enough even as his faults are paraded around. It was just immense fun the way the story was delivered and how the characters were set up.

I also really enjoyed the battles within the various goblin nests. Each one had a similar feel and yet became distinct as they moved from caves, to old fortresses to an ancient ruin before the final battle sequence at the farm. Each of these environments changed the approach to battle and made each fight feel really fresh and unique. Plus, Goblin Slayer is not above dirty tactics as he is certainly more about success than looking good, which lends itself to more imaginative fight sequences then you might otherwise find.

Priestess was a character I was worried about early on being a little bit pathetic. However, other than inexperience, she’s actually a pretty decent party member and she grows in leaps and bounds once she is taken under Goblin Slayer’s wing. By the end of the story she is also acting as a voice of reason, reigning him in from some of his more extreme acts that push him to the brink of collapse.

Magic is nicely integrated into the story with some real power, but real limitations. You never feel like magic is just going to save the day, but it does add some useful twists at times and again just makes the fights feel that little bit fresher. The sheer toll it takes on the characters, even someone like Priestess that essentially has no other protection save the few spells she’s able to cast in a day, really adds a sense of danger to each of the sequences.

To sum up, this story was really entertaining. Okay, those who really don’t like blood or the thought of prisoners being raped and mistreated should probably avoid (the goblins are pretty nasty to those unfortunate enough not to die when they lose), but otherwise if you like fantasy adventure stories this one is pretty entertaining.

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GOBLIN SLAYER
GOBLIN SLAYER