Yesterday, I mentioned reading a Jig the Goblin book by Jim C. Hines. It was a later volume in that series. But I still fondly remember the first book, Goblin Quest.
Think of Lord of the Rings turned into a half-hour comedy on TV. Replace the hobbits with little blue-skinned goblins. Then, make the central character a half-sized runt of a goblin. A devout coward. Throw in a thief, a couple of wizards, one good, one bad, a dragon that likes to play with the things he kills and a laugh a minute screenplay.
It will be about half as funny as Goblin Quest.
Some adventuring humans, one with wizardly powers he can barely handle, the other a blowhard princeling, commandeer an old wise man dwarf and the thieving elf to go looking for The Rod of Creation. Said Rod is buried deep within the bowels of a mountain that contains all manner of mythical beast and creature. Including goblins. Goblins are small and stupid, but have a working brutish society. Jig faces questionable survival every day. He's small, scrawny, has a partially torn off ear, and his only companion is a pet fire-spider who's as likely to leave scorch marks as anything else. Jig's ONLY advantage is that he's smarter than just about all the other goblins.
Unfortunately, being the smartest results in him being offered up as guide when the goblins are faced with the distasteful task of helping the adventurers or be more arrow target practice. They don't have much use for Jig and figure he and the adventurers will soon meet their end. Long before the arrive in the lair of Straum the Dragon. He's guarding the Rod.
Along the way, we discover that Jig is far from the coward he purports himself to be. Oh, he's a card-carrying certified coward. But back a coward into a corner, a SMART coward, and you get untested resolves of strength and ingenuity. Now, as a card-carry certified coward myself (and a bit of a runt of the litter, too), I identified with every leadership-evading thought Jig had. Hines does a masterful job of finding ways to bring out the hero in Jig. So much, that by epic's end, Jig the Goblin had become known as Jig the Dragonslayer.
Now THAT's some character development.
Look, I know a lot of you aren't interested in science fiction or fantasy. Can't say I love fantasy all that much either. But I would if it was all like Goblin Quest.