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“This fine goblin has taken every abuse for me. He has lost his house, his friends, his livelihood, and his life for me. And he didn’t’ even like me,” Spurge said. —The Assassination of Bragwain Spurge
The Assassination of Bragwain Spurge
by M.T. Anderson & Eugene Yelchin
Elf historian Bragwain Spurge accepts a dangerous mission to catapult across the mountains, spy on the goblins, and deliver a peace offering to the goblins’ dark lord. No other elf has returned for the goblins’ land, but Spurge is determined to be the first.
Spurge’s host, goblin archivist Werfel, is excited to show the goblin culture to his guest. Instead of being great friends like Werfel had hoped, Spurge’s snobbish attitude and sneaky ways lead to an international crisis. Soon, the two are fugitives fighting for their lives. But in order to survive, and keep their nations from war, the two will need to put their cultural differences aside and work together.
A unique political story, The Assassination of Bragwain Spurge, is told from three points of view. Werfel tells his version of events in first-person text; the pride and love he feels for his culture and his people shines throughout the entire story. Lord spymaster Ysoret Clivers writes reports to the elves’ leader, which allows the reader to understand lies that were told to Spurge. Spurge transmits pictures of his side of the story back to the elf kingdom. The beautiful, sometimes hilarious, black-and-white illustrations portray the goblin culture from Spurge’s perspective, often making the goblin world appear frightening.
Spurge’s story begins with illustrations of his travel to the goblin’s city. Because the story is told from three points of view, the same events can be seen through different perspectives, which allows the reader to understand how so many misunderstandings can take place between two people. Spurge portrays the goblins as frightening monsters, who leer at him and have disgusting habits. Despite Spurge’s conceited attitude, Werfel makes an excellent host, who is willing to die for the unlikable, unfriendly guest.
Many readers will relate to Spurge, who was bullied throughout school. Spurge has always been “the weed: unwanted by anyone.” Spurge accepted the dangerous mission because “I thought I would be useful. . . I thought I could be different than I was. I thought I could be one of them.” He is heartbroken when he realizes that he was used. Werfel points out that “just because you’re useful to the wealthy doesn’t mean they’ll reward you. It just means they’ll use you.” Spurge’s heartbreak and hurt make his previous behavior understandable.
Spurge and Werfel are not necessarily heroes, but in the end they band together to help bring peace between their people. The conclusion allows the reader to know that there is always the possibility of peace when two people begin to understand each other’s culture. The action-packed, visually inspiring, and funny tale teaches the value of friendship and understanding others’ perspectives. The Assassination of Bragwain Spurge will draw in readers because of the many illustrations; however, only dedicated readers will make it to the end of the book because of the changing points of views, the complexity of the plot, and the length of the story.
- While giving the history of the goblin city of Tenebrion, Ysoret Clivers writes about twelve elves who went into the city. Only two came back alive, “but raving mad—unable to explain the horrors they’d seen, and not just because their tongues had been cut out. Their minds had been blasted.”
- When being introduced to a goblin family, the host tells Spurge, “I, for one, am going to try right now to forget all the elves I killed in all sorts of ways during the war, and I am not going to think of all of my friends you people shot and stabbed and cut apart. Oh, and burned from the air. And imprisoned without food.” Another guest tells Spurge, “When most goblins took elfin prisoners, they cut off their arms at the elbow. Not me, sir. . . I always cut off your people’s hands right at the wrists.”
- When Spurge was a child, the other boys would tease him. Ysoret Clivers and the other boys, “burned his desk with him tied to it . . . (and) dragged him down to the crypt and forced him to eat grave-worms or have his pale little head kicked in.”
- When Ysoret Clivers displeases the king, a bodyguard cuts off his finger. “He spread my hand out on my desk and, taking out his ax—” By the end of the book, Ysoret Clivers has lost three fingers. When the third finger is removed, blood splatters the page, but it is not described.
- Spurge and Werfel are surrounded by bandits, who make the goblin give up his clothes. The bandit grabs Spurge, and “she spit in the elf’s face, then threw him backward to the floor. . . She kicked Spurge as hard as she could. Spurge writhed in pain.” Werfel stops the bandit from killing Spurge. But then “the goblins surrounded them, jabbing at them with short swords and knives, forcing them back toward the balcony railing and the darkness beyond it. . .” The bandits push the two off the balcony, but they are uninjured. The attack is described over a chapter.
- A goblin challenges Spurge to a duel. The battle is described in 19 pages’ pictures. The goblin attacks Spurge with a mace, but Spurge is able to defeat him.
- An elf knight hits Werfel’s pet. “One of the guards swung a sword and hit her with the flat. Werfel heard the crunch. Skardebek went whirling over their heads and hit the ground. She lay there twitching as the knights pulled their two prisoners away.
- Werfel’s pet helps him and Spurge escape from the elves. “She darted forward and clamped herself angrily over the executioner’s hooded face. He gagged and clutched at her. . . Skardebek flapped away—and Spurge slammed the guard over the head with the pike. The man collapsed.”
- As Werfel and Spurge are trying to escape, a knight sees them. There is a brief altercation. “Werfel grabbed his weapon. He shoved his hand over the man’s mouth. . . Skardebek flapped in his face and he choked. . .” Spurge hit “the guard in the stomach. The picket guard fell backward, the breath knocked out of him.”
- When the elves and goblins’ leaders meet, a weapon detonates and explodes. The leaders and their armies disappear into a black hole. The meeting is described in pictures.
Drugs and Alcohol
- To welcome Spurge, the elfin scholar, to the goblin city, a champagne fountain is prepared.
- When the goblins consider someone a friend, they insult them by calling them names. Spurge calls a neighbor’s children “little jerks” and “awful spawn.”
- If the goblin’s find out Werfel is a spy, Ysoret Clivers writes that “we can claim that he was just a nincompoop or a madman.”
- A goblin challenges Spurge to a duel, calling him a “cowardly, lily-livered, stitch-faced desperado.”
- Spurge uses a communication spell to send pictures back to the elves. “Werfel could tell it was a spell because the elf was floating several inches above the bed, surrounded by crackling sparks.”
- When a group of angry goblins surrounds Spurge and Werfel, Werfel “clenched his hands and started to say a prayer to Great Rugwith.”