This article contains plot details from the latest book.
Goblins are a species in the elvin world that provides bodyguards for important elves. They have a grudge against ogres and are typically taller than six feet. Their city is made of gold, as it represents something weak, whereas they are strong. This gives them something worth fighting for. Fitz had once said that they would probably be the most dangerous creatures Sophie would meet.
Goblins generally are taller than six feet, and when Sophie had first seen one she had guessed he was about seven feet. Male goblins in the elvin regiments typically wear black pants, keeping their prominent muscles on display, while it is more common in Gildingham to wear golden armor. Females in the elvin regiment have been shown to wear loose black outfits. Sandor has been described to have a lack of shoes, so that may or may not apply to all. Physically they are described to have flat noses, and rough gray skin, that fall in pleated folds. It was noted that this creates an effect on goblins that makes them comparable to both armadillos and aliens. In some cases, they carry unique swordlike weapons, though a known signature weapon is a goblin throwing star. It can be noted that goblins can sweat.
There is a great amount of distrust between these two groups, and they hold a strong grudge against them. They are quick to assign ogres, a villainous role, and have a long history of fighting with them. At the peace summit in Lodestar, Queen Hylda had wanted many things from the Ogres, including their shared borderlands.
With gnomes being the peaceful species they are, goblins have been shown not to exhibit any strong feelings about this creature.
In Lodestar, at the peace summit, it was mentioned that the animosity mainly existed between the ogres, trolls, and goblins. Though a scene has never quite depicted the relationship between trolls and goblins, it can be inferred it is less intense than the relation to the ogres.
Like ogres, goblin lifestyle can be noted to focus on a form of strength, and also strategy. Not much depth has been given on this field, though they often seem to feel like it is important to have something/someone to protect.
Their city Gildingham is constructed of gold, a metal quite weak, that inspires awe, which is worth fighting for. Many Goblins here wear gold as well, which they believe not to hinder their abilities, as they are strong. If there is a guest in the city, it is traditional for the queen to meet with them and have dinner on the night they arrive.
In the case that a warrior is lost, a few traditions take place. It is a night of reflection for the queen in such a case. As Brielle was the first loss in the elvin regiments, it is seen that the titanboa escorts the warrior back to the city, where any passengers beside him/her offer the crowd a solemn wave.
The first time Sophie saw goblins, Fitz told her they were "the most dangerous creatures you'll ever meet." Ans while the ogres might take exception to that, Fitz definitely wasn't wrong.
Goblins start battle training as toddlers, and focus heavily on weapons and war tactics throughout their lives.
They also have heightened senses to detect threats or intruders (thought their sense can be fooled by those who know certain tricks).
All of which is why they make excellent bodyguards for the Council - and for Sophie and her friends.
But the goblins' military-driven ways are only one side of their culture. They also have tremendous appreciation for beauty and art, as is evidenced by the delicate, shimmering architecture of their capital city. They don't need their buildings to be strong, or to provide protection. Instead, they prefer to live in a place which inspires awe - somewhere worth defending. And if peace truly became a reality, goblins would happily set down their throwing stars and swords and celebrate that no more fallen soldiers would be added to their Hall of Heroes.
Queen Hylda only keeps her forces poised for a fight because she fears one is coming (particularly with the ogres, who have long been the major threat to the goblins, safety). The goblin queen does everything in her power to ensure that is a war should happen, her people are armed, ready - and victorious.