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Of Goblins

How do you describe a goblin to an 8 year old? Recently, I began reading The Hobbit at bedtime to my eldest kid. We're a few chapters in, not far past the section on the trolls. The topic of goblins has come up as the troop has just raided the trolls’ cave and found the goblin slaying sword Orchrist (note that orc bit later.) "What are goblins, dad?"

We of course aren't quite to the point where a good description is given. We will get there at some point, likely just as we are meant to. His interest was piqued though, and so I had to give some sort of response. I could jump ahead in the book and find a Tolkienian description of them. I could go grab one of my many Monster Manuals and find a picture and a description. The latest D&D description is as follows:
Goblins are small, black-hearted humanoids that lair in despoiled dungeons and other dismal settings. Individually weak, they gather in large numbers to torment other creatures.
This description is what I would typically consider a goblin, but not exactly what Tolkien would consider a goblin. You see, Tolkien goblins are what most would consider Orcs. This explains a bit of why the sword is called Orchrist. The best description I could find on the Lord of the Rings wiki mostly differentiated between types:
There are two varieties of goblins: The goblins of the Misty Mountain and the goblins of Moria. The goblins of the Misty Mountain have flesh-colored skin and seem to be afflicted with various skin diseases and deformations that include hairlips and stunted growth. The goblins of Moria have a very green-colored skin tone compared to their Misty Mountain cousins with larger pointier ears and huge bulbous eyes that reflect their nature as cave creatures.
I didn't really want to get into that much detail, nor did I even have a chance to research this until much later. I certainly didn't want to add Orcs into the mix. Then I'd have to explain Orcs and Goblins with descriptions. This is bedtime, and we need answers fast.

I could have given examples from Spider-Man, Labyrinth or any number of other sources of which my son might be aware. In the end I turned to a video game he and I have been playing together, Breath of the Wild. For now, he thinks the goblins of The Hobbit look something like a Bokoblin. After we're through with the book, I'll have to show him the old Rankin Bass version.




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