Scott Marlowe

Author • Engineer • Technologist

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Races of Uhl: Goblins

Each Friday for the next so many weeks I'm going to highlight some aspect of Uhl, the fantasy world in which I set my novels. Posts will include details on Uhl's people, places, races, and more.

Goblins are the most prolific race found in Uhl. Most dwell in the subterranean darkness of the Underland or at the highest of mountain peaks. Collectively, there are four species: gaugaths, haureks, imps, and, the smallest, grekkels. This is not a hierarchy, per se, as each prefers to exist alongside their own particular kind. But in a society ruled by brawn, gaugaths, the largest of goblin-kind, are often at the top, though haureks, with their greater cunning and intelligence, are just as often found in positions of leadership. Imps and grekkels are both the regular soldiers and spies of goblin-kind.

While there are some similarities amongst the four sub-species—they are all beer drinkers, for example—there are far more differences. Left to their own devices, they've each their own leaders, social hierarchies, taboos, rituals, and festivals. They come together beyond that only when opportunity for gain—such as a nighttime raid to the surface—presents itself.

The Underland's true vastness is unknown to any surface-dweller. It is therefore also unknown how many goblin fortifications, cities, and other settlements exist. Those that are known, namely Greth and Gugal, have been identified only because of their persistent attacks on the Four Fiefdoms and raids into the Freelands. Members of the King's Patrol watch these remote mountain fortresses closely from the frontiers of civilization. But because of the Underland's expansiveness, it is not unknown to have a goblin raiding party emerge right in the middle of a populated area. Their threat remains a constant one.

Note from the Author

It doesn't seem like you see a lot of non-humans in fantasy anymore. Certainly orcs and goblins are few and far between. I can understand orcs given their use in Lord of the Rings. In that light, orcs almost become like elves, overused and with little if anything new brought to the table. Goblins, in my mind, are a bit different. Much more steeped in mythology, they are often portrayed as connivers and tricksters, spoiling food, knocking over milk, and generally being all-around nuisances.

My grekkels fit that bill. Their presence actually spoils milk. They have an annoying tendency to cause bad luck. They're cowards at heart but can be pretty nasty when aligned with the right (or wrong) people.

Imps are your basic Dungeons and Dragons sort of goblin. Somewhere between gnomes and dwarves in size, their tactic in battle is to use their sheer numbers to overpower their enemies.

Haureks are very human-like: smart, cunning, and experts in many different areas.

Gaugaths are the giants of goblin-kind. You don't want to mess with them.

Goblins—specifically grekkels, haureks, and gaugaths—made their first appearances in The Hall of the Wood. I've not revisited them since, but they are still there, dwelling deep underground and waiting for their next opportunity to come to the surface and cause general mayhem. They may find their way into The Alchemancer series, in fact. That's a strong possibility for book 3.

View my gallery of goblins on Pinterest.

Read more about the people and places of Uhl at the World of Uhl.