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The Princess and the Goblin, with eBook

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Young Princess Irene is sent to the country to be raised in a half-farmhouse, half-castle located in the side of a mountain. While exploring the top of the castle, Irene becomes lost and inexplicably finds her way to a mystifying and beautiful woman spinning a thread. Princess Irene discovers that this woman to which she is drawn is her great-great-grandmother. But after s Young Princess Irene is sent to the country to be raised in a half-farmhouse, half-castle located in the side of a mountain. While exploring the top of the castle, Irene becomes lost and inexplicably finds her way to a mystifying and beautiful woman spinning a thread. Princess Irene discovers that this woman to which she is drawn is her great-great-grandmother. But after she returns, her nurse, Lootie, refuses to believe in the old woman's existence, and the young princess cannot find the way back to her great-great-grandmother. Days later, while on an outing with Lootie, Princess Irene believes that she detects a goblin. They meet a young miner, Curdie, who confirms her sighting. Soon Curdie discovers that goblins lurking under the castle have constructed an evil plot against the king and his palace. Princess Irene's belief in her great-great-grandmother's powers becomes essential as she and Curdie work to foil the sinister goblin plan. As the Princess tells Curdie, "Sometimes you must believe without seeing."


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Young Princess Irene is sent to the country to be raised in a half-farmhouse, half-castle located in the side of a mountain. While exploring the top of the castle, Irene becomes lost and inexplicably finds her way to a mystifying and beautiful woman spinning a thread. Princess Irene discovers that this woman to which she is drawn is her great-great-grandmother. But after s Young Princess Irene is sent to the country to be raised in a half-farmhouse, half-castle located in the side of a mountain. While exploring the top of the castle, Irene becomes lost and inexplicably finds her way to a mystifying and beautiful woman spinning a thread. Princess Irene discovers that this woman to which she is drawn is her great-great-grandmother. But after she returns, her nurse, Lootie, refuses to believe in the old woman's existence, and the young princess cannot find the way back to her great-great-grandmother. Days later, while on an outing with Lootie, Princess Irene believes that she detects a goblin. They meet a young miner, Curdie, who confirms her sighting. Soon Curdie discovers that goblins lurking under the castle have constructed an evil plot against the king and his palace. Princess Irene's belief in her great-great-grandmother's powers becomes essential as she and Curdie work to foil the sinister goblin plan. As the Princess tells Curdie, "Sometimes you must believe without seeing."

30 review for The Princess and the Goblin, with eBook

  1. 5 out of 5

    Markus

    Published in 1872, The Princess and the Goblin is one of the first books in the modern fantasy genre. This book had tremendous and very visible influence on all the (now much more famous) authors that came after it. It is of course very dated. It does not match the standards that fantasy have created since; in neither scope, story, characterisation or complexity. On the other hand, it is a rather enjoyable little fairytale, and it does have its positive sides. Mostly, though, this book is not real Published in 1872, The Princess and the Goblin is one of the first books in the modern fantasy genre. This book had tremendous and very visible influence on all the (now much more famous) authors that came after it. It is of course very dated. It does not match the standards that fantasy have created since; in neither scope, story, characterisation or complexity. On the other hand, it is a rather enjoyable little fairytale, and it does have its positive sides. Mostly, though, this book is not really one you read for fun. Except maybe if you’re eight years old and have never read a fantasy book. If that is not the case, this book is more an object for study than a source of entertainment. It’s a satisfying read because it gives an impression of what fantasy was like in the 1800s, but that unfortunately also means that it gives an impression of what fantasy was like before it got really good.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Evgeny

    Eight-year-old Princess Irene was... well a princess who lived outside of her father castle in a house in the countryside - if I understood correctly to improve her weak health. Goblins (or dwarves - they were the same in the tale; J.R.R. Tolkien who explained the difference between them has not been born yet) used to be normal people that had decided they did not care much about government, taxes, and everything else, so they moved underground where they changed shape with time and became nuisa Eight-year-old Princess Irene was... well a princess who lived outside of her father castle in a house in the countryside - if I understood correctly to improve her weak health. Goblins (or dwarves - they were the same in the tale; J.R.R. Tolkien who explained the difference between them has not been born yet) used to be normal people that had decided they did not care much about government, taxes, and everything else, so they moved underground where they changed shape with time and became nuisance for ground dwellers. One day Irene discovered a mysterious staircase which led her... no, not underground but quite the opposite: on the top floor of her building where she made an interesting and intriguing discovery. As the chapter about it called The Princess and—We Shall See Who I am not going to spoil it. Sufficient to say eventually the paths of Irene, her friend Curdie (a son of a local miner), and all goblins intersected in a very strange and unexpected way. The book was supposed to be very influential with lots of famous fantasy writers giving it a nod. I would call it a fairy tale instead of fantasy and as one it is quite good and never boring to read. The reasons for 3 stars as opposed to more-deserved 4 are purely personal. The first one was an old trope with all the adults being completely retarded and only children being able to see the danger. Yes, we can be very distracted with the day-to-day routine and miss something, but we are not stupid. After all we invented marshmallow shooter: Sorry, bad example. How is about a Segway? I mean with obesity being on the rise in developed countries anything that makes people walk even less is a good idea, right? When I put it this way we - adults - are not that smart after all. Another point would be more like a nitpicking. The life of miners was too idealized. Even these days a miner develops serious professional health problems; at the time the story took place these people had a very short lifespan - try to inhale dust non-stop for 8 hours daily to see what I mean and I am not even talking about explosion accidents. Sorry, but as a person who grew up in a town with lots of coal mines I could not overlook this. The rest was fine: the writing was good enough, the characters serviceable - no more and no less that what you expect from ones in a fairy tale. The story moved along at a nice pace never coming to a screeching halt. 3 stars is my rating, but if you can overlook two problems I mentioned make it 4.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Sanjay Gautam

    No wonder why Tolkien and CS Lewis admired this tale. A very fine and enchanting story.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Jason Koivu

    A princess, a miner and a goblin walk into a story... Feel like you've heard this one before? Maybe the characters are unusual, but the form and general content of The Princess and the Goblin written by George MacDonald in 1872 would go on to become one of the foundation cornerstones for fantasy literature in the following century. Tolkien and Lewis owe MacDonald a good deal. Without those Inklings fantasy just wouldn't be the same today. As with many progenitors, MacDonald's book feels dated. Aft A princess, a miner and a goblin walk into a story... Feel like you've heard this one before? Maybe the characters are unusual, but the form and general content of The Princess and the Goblin written by George MacDonald in 1872 would go on to become one of the foundation cornerstones for fantasy literature in the following century. Tolkien and Lewis owe MacDonald a good deal. Without those Inklings fantasy just wouldn't be the same today. As with many progenitors, MacDonald's book feels dated. After numerous generations style, appearance and content changes. MacDonald's book looks old, out of date, almost irrelevant, and to modern readers of the genre it might appear as if it has nothing to do current trends. Princesses with grannies and nurses, a miner boy who wards off goblins with rhymes, goblins who can be defeated via their feet...What does any of this have to do with the magic, swords, the undead, assassins, dragons and bastard kings of today? It all had to start somewhere. For nostalgia sake, I gave this an extra star. Granted, this is not the kind of fantasy I'd like to read for the rest of eternity. However, it was nice to see one of the origin stories. It's like witnessing a birth. Fans of Tolkien, for instance, can look into this book and see the likeness in its descendants such as The Hobbit. Fairies such as goblins have been a part of lore, legend and beloved bedtime stories since before books, so it was great seeing an early depiction of such classic characters as the Goblin King, without which we'd never have this...

  5. 5 out of 5

    Heidi The Reader

    A charming fairy tale for children about a princess, a miner and hundreds of goblins- not just one. The goblins hate the king because they used to be normal humans. They chose to live underground, to be away from the king and his taxes, and that choice has turned them inhumanely ugly and grotesque. "They had enough of affection left for each other to preserve them from being absolutely cruel for cruelty's sake to those that came in their way; but still they so heartily cherished the ancestral gru A charming fairy tale for children about a princess, a miner and hundreds of goblins- not just one. The goblins hate the king because they used to be normal humans. They chose to live underground, to be away from the king and his taxes, and that choice has turned them inhumanely ugly and grotesque. "They had enough of affection left for each other to preserve them from being absolutely cruel for cruelty's sake to those that came in their way; but still they so heartily cherished the ancestral grudge against those who occupied their former possessions and especially against the descendants of the king who had caused their expulsion, that they sought every opportunity of tormenting them in ways that were as odd as their inventors; and although dwarfed and misshapen, they had strength equal to their cunning." loc 54, ebook. So, the king hides away his daughter to protect her from the goblins, while he travels across the kingdom, exerting the rule of law. One rainy day, she is wandering bored through the house, when she discovers a secret stair with an extraordinary person in a hidden room. The Princess tries to tell her nurse about her experience, but the nurse doesn't believe her. "You don't believe me, then!" exclaimed the princess, astonished and angry, as she well might be. "Did you expect me to believe you, princess?" asked the nurse coldly. "I know princesses are in the habit of telling make-believes, but you are the first I ever heard of who expected to have them believed." loc 181, ebook. Meanwhile, in the mines under the mountains, the miners are accustomed to hearing strange sounds from the goblins who dwell within the walls. "They worked only at night, for the miners' night was the goblins' day. Indeed, the greater number of the miners were afraid of the goblins; for there were strange stories well known amongst them of the treatment some had received whom the goblins had surprised at their work during the night." loc 411, ebook. One day, a miner named Curdie, hears actual goblin voices and discovers that they are closer to the goblin's world that anyone ever realized. He also overhears something frightening and determines to investigate the goblins' world more to learn the truth. To discover how the princess' and Curdie's worlds come together, you're going to have to read the story. I enjoyed The Princess and the Goblin. Recommended for tweens or the young at heart. Readers who crave the simplicity and magic of books like The Hobbit, may also enjoy the story.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Bentley ★ Bookbastion.net

    A great fairytale. Very reminiscent in a way of C.S. Lewis' writing, so I was not surprised to find that MacDonald actually heavily inspired not only Lewis, but also J.R.R. Tolkien as well. Classically written fantasy with strong allegorical thematic tones, The Princess and the Goblin is both heartwarming and a fun adventure. I do wish we got a bit more of an explanation on the princess's grandmother - as that was the one aspect of the story that goes totally unexplained. Although I'd wager a gu A great fairytale. Very reminiscent in a way of C.S. Lewis' writing, so I was not surprised to find that MacDonald actually heavily inspired not only Lewis, but also J.R.R. Tolkien as well. Classically written fantasy with strong allegorical thematic tones, The Princess and the Goblin is both heartwarming and a fun adventure. I do wish we got a bit more of an explanation on the princess's grandmother - as that was the one aspect of the story that goes totally unexplained. Although I'd wager a guess that faith and the power of belief play a larger part in her presentation than I've given the story credit for having just finished it tonight.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Breanne

    I was immediately drawn to this story when I read the first page to this edition which reads: "THERE was once a little princess who— "But Mr. Author, why do you always write about princesses?" "Because every little girl is a princess." "You will make them vain if you tell them that." "Not if they understand what I mean." "Then what do you mean?" "What do you mean by a princess?" "The daughter of a king." "Very well, then every little girl is a princess, and there would be no need to say anything about it I was immediately drawn to this story when I read the first page to this edition which reads: "THERE was once a little princess who— "But Mr. Author, why do you always write about princesses?" "Because every little girl is a princess." "You will make them vain if you tell them that." "Not if they understand what I mean." "Then what do you mean?" "What do you mean by a princess?" "The daughter of a king." "Very well, then every little girl is a princess, and there would be no need to say anything about it, except that she is always in danger of forgetting her rank, and behaving as if she had grown out of the mud. I have seen little princesses behave like children of thieves and lying beggars, and that is why they need to be told they are princesses. And that is why when I tell a story of this kind, I like to tell it about a princess. Then I can say better what I mean, because I can then give her every beautiful thing I want her to have." "Please go on." There was once a little princess whose father was king over a great country full of mountains and valleys. His palace was built upon one of the mountains, and was very grand and beautiful. The princess, whose name was Irene, was born there, but she was sent soon after her birth, because her mother was not very strong, to be brought up by country people in a large house, half castle, half farmhouse, on the side of another mountain, about half-way between its base and its peak." The story is really a surprising and yet predictable fairy tale that has a profound understory which has everything to do with personal worth and esteem! I loved it! I would recommend this to every pre- and teenage girl.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Zoë

    Book 15/100 for 2015! Also, a book I read for my Children's Literature class! I thought this book was good, but definitely not my favorite. I didn't really like MacDonald's writing style, especially when he broke the 4th wall and kept refusing to describe things while also describing them (like "I COULD tell you what this looked like, but I really can't."?????). He sorta got on my nerves. Another thing that I didn't really like was that MacDonald didn't explain everything! Like, for instance, what Book 15/100 for 2015! Also, a book I read for my Children's Literature class! I thought this book was good, but definitely not my favorite. I didn't really like MacDonald's writing style, especially when he broke the 4th wall and kept refusing to describe things while also describing them (like "I COULD tell you what this looked like, but I really can't."?????). He sorta got on my nerves. Another thing that I didn't really like was that MacDonald didn't explain everything! Like, for instance, what the heck was up with Irene's great-grandmother? WAS SHE EVEN REAL? Maybe he was trying to get the reader to interpret it for themselves, but come on, I'm not down for that. Just tell me, please! I did like that it was very fairy tale-like, though! I absolutely love fairy tales, if you didn't know. Also, another cool fact that I learned in class today was that MacDonald inspired Tolkien and C.S. Lewis in writing Lord of the Rings and The Chronicles of Narnia, respectively. Isn't that cool? So all in all, I liked some aspects of it and didn't like others. Duh. Zoë out.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Chloe

    When I think of the magic of childhood, certain images come into my head. There’s a sort of sparkle, warmth, and yet there is always danger. However, childhood magic has an incomparable sweetness to it. There are few books that manage to touch on this nigh-indescribable feeling of childhood magic. The Princess and the Goblin is such a book. The story is a fairytale, in the same order as Jack and the Beanstalk and The Goose Girl. There is a princess, a peasant boy, a castle and, of course, goblins When I think of the magic of childhood, certain images come into my head. There’s a sort of sparkle, warmth, and yet there is always danger. However, childhood magic has an incomparable sweetness to it. There are few books that manage to touch on this nigh-indescribable feeling of childhood magic. The Princess and the Goblin is such a book. The story is a fairytale, in the same order as Jack and the Beanstalk and The Goose Girl. There is a princess, a peasant boy, a castle and, of course, goblins. These elements do not automatically make magic, but they do in the hands of mater storyteller George MacDonald. The characters in the story are charming. Princess Irene is a smart, spunky little girl, even though she is slightly spoiled (she is a princess after all). McDonald’s ability to write from her point of view is astounding. While reading the book I wanted to say, “I remember thinking things just like that when I was little!” This is especially amazing when one considers Irene’s age. Few authors manage to write fantasy with heroines so young. Yet, Irene is as compelling as any fantasy heroine, and perhaps even more so due to her sweetness and close-to-babyhood charm. Curdie, the brave peasant boy, is also well developed. I enjoyed his enthusiasm as well as his courage. I love to read about courageous children. However, he is far from perfect. For example, he has a hard time believing Princess Irene’s story about her mysterious great great grandmother. Both Irene and Curdie, then, are all the more real because of their flaws. And perhaps even more lovable. The imagery used in the story is also delightful. McDonald’s creative abilities are known among all avid readers of fantasy, but some of his beautiful images used in this book are almost too good to be true. Scene after scene is just bursting with magic. This is enhanced by the child’s POV used throughout the tale. The story itself has an excellent plotline about good vs. evil. There are some genuinely suspenseful moments. McDonald knows how to build atmosphere, too. The scenes in the mines, the goblin court and the forest are all hauntingly memorable. The dark quality of the old fairytales is present here, and the danger of childhood make-believe is just about perfect. The symbolism of the story is also lovely. Like Narnia or The Lord of the Rings, Christian elements as well as bits of mythology are woven seamlessly together into a beautiful story. Parents and teachers (and older siblings) should enjoy discussing these books with children and pointing out the symbolic parts: the thread, the orb, the great great grandmother herself… Charming and beautifully told, this is a fairytale that should find its place right next to the Brother’s Grimm and Anderson’s works.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Cindy Rollins

    The Lord in his mercy has given me another chance to teach Charlotte Mason style and I am getting to visit so many old friends. I tried to start with a couple excellent books to whet my student's appetite and delightfully he has responded with joy. I will always give George MacDonald 4 or 5 stars. I love him- his voice and his goodness.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Barnabas Piper

    One of the best children's stories ever, and of course by that I mean one of the best stories for anyone.

  12. 4 out of 5

    E.F.B.

    If I had heard of George MacDonald's stories before becoming a writer (circa 2014) I don't remember it. The first time I remember hearing about them was when I was talking to a nice older lady at my church who asked me what I like to do. When I told her I like writing, especially fantasy and fairytale retellings, she immediately said I should check out MacDonald. I was happily surprised because, while I've told many people that I'm a writer and what I like to write, and they've acted supportive If I had heard of George MacDonald's stories before becoming a writer (circa 2014) I don't remember it. The first time I remember hearing about them was when I was talking to a nice older lady at my church who asked me what I like to do. When I told her I like writing, especially fantasy and fairytale retellings, she immediately said I should check out MacDonald. I was happily surprised because, while I've told many people that I'm a writer and what I like to write, and they've acted supportive of my interests, few, if any of those same people, have recommended books to me. It's been a solid year, if not two since that lady recommended George MacDonald to me, but I promised myself I would check it out, and I finally got around to it. While I feel I probably would have enjoyed The Princess and the Goblin more when I was a child, I still found it highly charming as an adult. I remember reading once that MacDonald's writing inspired/influenced C. S. Lewis and Tolkien (among other writers) and I felt while I was reading that the writing style of this story reminded me a lot of the style of "The Hobbit" and "Roverrandom" insofar as the flow of it and the way the narrator comments on things. I generally enjoy that style, so it was a nice thing to be reminded of. The characters were silly and fun, and I also like the way little morals were slipped in, especially the views on believe vs. unbelief. While this is not a new favorite of mine, I did find it likable enough that I am interested in reading more of MacDonald's works, and will try not to take two more years to do so. XD Content Advisory: No language. There's a brief kiss between a young boy and young girl that is not described. There's a mention of bleeding and feeling faint due to blood loss when a human who was mistaken for a goblin gets shot in the leg with a crossbow. This person's wound gets treated and they are ultimately okay. There's mention of goblins being known to do bad things to humans like kidnapping and eating them. (The eating never actually happens.) There's a fight between armed guards and goblins during which there is some peril for both humans and goblins. It's mentioned that goblins get slashed and stabbed and have their feet stomped on. There is also some peril for the humans involved. Blood is briefly mentioned during this fight, but all of this violence is only very lightly described.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Sara

    Second Reading: October 2016 First Reading: July 2014 MacDonald is a master storyteller who uses a pen like a paintbrush. The imagery is vivid and inviting. Like many of his stories, I felt as though I stepped into the quintessential faerie tale. This sweet and curious story is one that I will revisit many times in the same way that a perfectly made cup of tea is always a little bit magical and a whole lot comforting.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Vanessa

    This was a really charming children's novel. Once I started reading, I couldn't put it down. This would be a great book to read aloud as a family. I am excited to read more of George MacDonald's books and learn more about him. Apparently, many writers have been influenced by MacDonald, including C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, Madeleine L'Engle, and Lewis Carroll. Thank you, Stefanie, for introducing me to such a great author!

  15. 5 out of 5

    Rachel Aranda

    I would give this book a 3.75 rating. I really liked the writing style of Mr. MacDonald. It was lyrical but not silly or too dark like most fairy tales. My enjoyment the story of this book was hindered by the little slow pace at times. If I were rewriting this story, I think I might speed up the pace and make it a little more packed with action if I was writing this book in the current time. I have mixed feelings about whether I would read a follow-up of this book. Truthfully, I want to see Curd I would give this book a 3.75 rating. I really liked the writing style of Mr. MacDonald. It was lyrical but not silly or too dark like most fairy tales. My enjoyment the story of this book was hindered by the little slow pace at times. If I were rewriting this story, I think I might speed up the pace and make it a little more packed with action if I was writing this book in the current time. I have mixed feelings about whether I would read a follow-up of this book. Truthfully, I want to see Curdie and Princess Irene as a couple when they are older but it isn't absolutely necessary to have another book just for this sole purpose. Neither book in this duology is long so I might go ahead and read the second one. As for changes I would make for this audiobook, I would probably choose a different narrator or make it a multi-narration audiobook. The reason for this is that some of Ms. Heldman's narrated voices were too similar and squeaky to listen to. This is a reason it took me much longer to finish this audiobook. Maybe if she used her normal voice I would give her another shot but I'm not sure. The best voice she narrated in this book Great Great Grandmother Irene when she wasn't using there normal voice. If someone asked if they should just buy this audiobook, I would say to get a print or digital copy to read along with this audio copy. I did and it helps with the enjoyment. Don't be afraid to speed the book up either. It greatly helped me.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Sara Saif

    Well, whaddaya know! It was wonderful! Short, beautifully written and fantastical. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. BUT, it didn't wrap up properly! I mean, the story concluded and everything but a lot of things are still a mystery. The white-haired, centuries old grandmother for one. Why and how is she so old? Is Curdie really a prince? It was suggested but never elaborated. Why did the King and Queen not keep Irene with them? She was like, what, 9 years old? If the Queen was too weak to take Well, whaddaya know! It was wonderful! Short, beautifully written and fantastical. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. BUT, it didn't wrap up properly! I mean, the story concluded and everything but a lot of things are still a mystery. The white-haired, centuries old grandmother for one. Why and how is she so old? Is Curdie really a prince? It was suggested but never elaborated. Why did the King and Queen not keep Irene with them? She was like, what, 9 years old? If the Queen was too weak to take care of her surely they should have brought her back after 2 or 3 years. Didn't quite add up. While I loved the origins of the Goblins and how they were driven below ground, the rest of the fantasy stuff is dreadfully vague. Also, why is it called "The Princess and the Goblin" instead of Goblins. There was no specific one. Huh. Aaaand I'm back to complaining after two sentences of praise. S'cuse me, I can't help it. “We are all very anxious to be understood, and it is very hard not to be. But there is one thing much more necessary.' What is that, grandmother?' To understand other people.' Yes, grandmother. I must be fair - for if I'm not fair to other people, I'm not worth being understood myself. I see.”

  17. 4 out of 5

    Cynthia Egbert

    All the best fairy tales have an element of spirituality in them that causes the reader to feel of that spirit and gain insight and a desire to improve oneself. This tale definitely has elements of that kind of spirit. I can truly see why C.S. Lewis was so drawn to the writings of Mr. MacDonald...I cannot wait to finish the sequel!! You younger friends of mine on Goodreads and Facebook should give this book a try! I dare ya!!!

  18. 4 out of 5

    Robert Dunbar

    God, I loved these books as a kid. They were gorgeous and thrilling and fantastic. Even a little scary. Basically, my reading preferences were established right there.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Kirsten

    I'm not sure how I never read this as a kid; I think I might have even owned a copy for a while, but for some reason I never read it. Anyway, it's a sweet children's book. It's a bit moralistic but in a sort of wry way that keeps it from being saccarine, and parts of it are very funny. It's easy to see that George MacDonald was a definite influence on C.S. Lewis.

  20. 5 out of 5

    E.B. Dawson

    Really enjoyed this sweet, unique fairytale. Irene and Curdie reminded me a bit of Annie and Alec from the Maiden's Bequest. I do think I may have enjoyed it a bit more when I was younger. But even so I loved how it depicted faith, and how safety often looks different than we think it should, and the incredible grace and love of Irene's great-great-grandmother was heartwarming in the truest sense of the word.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Suvi

    The mentor of Lewis Carroll, and revered by C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien among others, the severe-looking Scottish author clearly had a knack for creating magical things. Very few authors have said that they don't write for children, "but for the child-like, whether they be of five, or fifty, or seventy-five". The Princess and the Goblin is a fully-fledged children's fantasy novel, however, but also much more than a story of rescuing the princess and the kingdom. Eight-year-old princess Irene The mentor of Lewis Carroll, and revered by C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien among others, the severe-looking Scottish author clearly had a knack for creating magical things. Very few authors have said that they don't write for children, "but for the child-like, whether they be of five, or fifty, or seventy-five". The Princess and the Goblin is a fully-fledged children's fantasy novel, however, but also much more than a story of rescuing the princess and the kingdom. Eight-year-old princess Irene lives a very sheltered life in a castle with her nursemaid Lootie and other servants. She has an abundance of toys, but there are so many that they don't satisfy her anymore. Instead she grows frustrated and runs around exploring the castle, eventually finding a mysterious room with an old lady who claims to be her grandmother. Irene also finds out that she has never been told about the goblins who live underground, and who are now plotting against the kingdom. In a way this feels like a simple fairy tale, but a very bloated one. The straightforward plot is dragged out way too much, leading to a flat and anticlimactic ending. The sense of magic and the possibility to read between lines kept me going even when the text level itself was a letdown. Goblins are always interesting creatures, and here they have an interesting background story. The grandmother represents a more divine power. She is there to guide Irene and is connected to the concept of belief. What to do when you believe in something but others have a hard time doing the same? Some would say this hints at MacDonald's efforts to weave a Christian allegory to the story, but belief isn't exclusive to religion. MacDonald also deals with transcending your outward place in the world by learning how to become a person who deserves respect. Early on, we learn that a real princess doesn't tell a lie, isn't rude and does what she is told. Being a good girl is a much bigger thing than being a princess, than having a superficial title. When Irene is playing with miner's children despite her status, the reader is reminded that "the truest princess is just the one who loves all her brothers and sisters best, and who is most able to do them good by being humble towards them". Like in many children's homes even today, the nursemaid Lootie acts as both parents. Irene's mother is dead and her father travels for months on end around his kingdom. Whenever he comes back he is shown as a noble figure, and is almost put on a pedestal by Irene. The king loves his daughter and is moved to tears from the mention of his late wife, but I found it interesting that for most of the time he stays as an absent father, while the story focuses on Irene taking control of her seclusion and saving the kingdom. Irene indeed shows herself to be a different kind of princess. With the help of a miner boy named Curdie, she is an active agent who, with the encouragement of her grandmother, finds courage and honour in herself. She's the one who follows a thread given to her by the grandmother, and saves Curdie from a cave by clearing away a heap of stones. It's admirable that MacDonald doesn't reduce her to a damsel in distress, but gives her the chance to develop and grow. "[']We are all very anxious to be understood, and it is very hard not to be. But there is one thing much more necessary.' 'What is that, grandmother?' 'To understand other people.' 'Yes, grandmother. I must be fair - for if I'm not fair to other people, I'm not worth being understood myself.[']" PS. The cover of this Hesperus Press edition is gorgeous!

  22. 4 out of 5

    Erin the Avid Reader ⚜BFF's with the Cheshire Cat⚜

    This book served as both inspirations for both C.S Lewis and J.R.R Tolkien, the latter whose epic trilogy I am currently rollicking through and wanted to take a short break from it to read a quick, enjoyable fantasy book before continuing on the merry journey after a brief visit with Tom Bombadil. The funny thing is though, this book also took me on a fantastic adventure. I was expecting this to be short, simple kiddie story but it is not like that at all. Personally if I was a kid reading this t This book served as both inspirations for both C.S Lewis and J.R.R Tolkien, the latter whose epic trilogy I am currently rollicking through and wanted to take a short break from it to read a quick, enjoyable fantasy book before continuing on the merry journey after a brief visit with Tom Bombadil. The funny thing is though, this book also took me on a fantastic adventure. I was expecting this to be short, simple kiddie story but it is not like that at all. Personally if I was a kid reading this to myself I'd be very confused, but having this read to you by an adult would make the experience very enjoyable. I rented an audiobook for this from the library beforehand and loved it. I see similarities between this book and the Hobbit, such as the scenes involving musical numbers and epic poetry, and a scene involving the deep underground where they encounter bizarre creatures. Another thing about that, while I love the Hobbit and consider it very near and dear to my heart, I liked this book a bit better! There's something so charming and succinct about "The Princess and the Goblin" I just can't help but grin every time I think of this wonderful story. Is this epic fantasy? Eh, kinda. It's not up there on that genre like the 'Faithful and the Fallen' series or 'The Lord of the Rings' trilogy, but it's a fun read nonetheless. Highly recommend this one.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Julie Davis

    This is a book my mother has long tried to get me to read since it was a childhood favorite of hers. Over the years I have heard it was also a favorite of C.S. Lewis, Madeleine L'Engle, G.K. Chesterton and (possibly) J.R.R. Tolkien. With all that going for it, you'd think I'd have jumped on the bandwagon long ago. It took me finding this LibriVox recording from one of my favorite narrators who has lamentably few books recorded, Andy Minter. He is simply superb. I get that delicious feeling of bei This is a book my mother has long tried to get me to read since it was a childhood favorite of hers. Over the years I have heard it was also a favorite of C.S. Lewis, Madeleine L'Engle, G.K. Chesterton and (possibly) J.R.R. Tolkien. With all that going for it, you'd think I'd have jumped on the bandwagon long ago. It took me finding this LibriVox recording from one of my favorite narrators who has lamentably few books recorded, Andy Minter. He is simply superb. I get that delicious feeling of being a child snuggled down for a story being read by a favorite uncle as I am listening. FINAL This was funny, sweet, exciting, and was very enjoyable indeed.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Danielle N

    This is a small, but noteworthy tale. I will be keeping this review on the lighter side and encourage you to explore the story on your own. “Seeing is not believing – it is only seeing.” Having been originally published in 1872, I admit that I began with some trepidation. Even as an avid fan of fairy tales, I am no stranger to the challenges of reading older work. It can be easy to find yourself lost among the dated language and styles of writing. But that simply was not the case here. I welcomed This is a small, but noteworthy tale. I will be keeping this review on the lighter side and encourage you to explore the story on your own. “Seeing is not believing – it is only seeing.” Having been originally published in 1872, I admit that I began with some trepidation. Even as an avid fan of fairy tales, I am no stranger to the challenges of reading older work. It can be easy to find yourself lost among the dated language and styles of writing. But that simply was not the case here. I welcomed the surprise of discovering that even now, this endearing story still seems to read with a certain ease and fluidity that I appreciated. The Princess and the Goblin was not the complex, exciting sort of read we have come to expect from today’s fantasy but there was much to be admired within its simple magic and charming characters. This felt like a visit down memory lane of what I imagine must be the earlier roots or at least notable influences of the fantasy genre we have come to love presently. “People must believe what they can, and those who believe more must not be hard upon those who believe less. I doubt if you would have believed it all yourself if you hadn’t seen some of it.” And of course, no fairy tale is complete with a moral lesson tucked within the pages. Here we learn the importance of having faith and “The Golden Rule”. Presented through a cast that includes a lively and adventurous princess, a kind miner boy and a mysterious grandmother, all elements come together successfully in a small tale that leaves a lasting impression. I recommend picking this up if you are a fan of fairy tales, as I feel it truly encompasses the essence of the genre. I regret not having stumbled upon this sooner so that I might have read it aloud with my own children. It is a quaint read that be a lovely addition to any family library. You may also find this review on Books, Vertigo and Tea.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Rob

    C. S. Lewis called George MacDonald his master. J. R. R. Tolkien did not care for him. Yet if you are a fan of either of Lewis or Tolkien, you must read at least one of MacDonald'a fantasy novels. To call them fairy tales is an injustice. The Princess and the Goblin reads like a modern fantasy novel despite being published in 1872.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Jen

    Such a good children's story and an easy folks read! Princess Irene and Curdie were just the sort of characters a book like this needs, and the fantasy elements with the Goblins and Irene's grandmother just worked. The ending wasn't very resolute but it was purposely written to make you read the sequel and I undoubtedly will.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Nico

    I read this as a child and loved it! I still think about the book, and look at my sensitive feet in dismay!

  28. 4 out of 5

    Daniel Ionson

    Supreme children's book, and a deep inspiration for JRRT's The Hobbit.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Suzannah

    First time reading this for years. Just as much fun as I remembered

  30. 4 out of 5

    Bob

    This is the book that G. K. Chesterton said "made a difference to my whole existence." I am not sure that I can say the same but I did find myself impressed once again with George MacDonald's writing and asking why I hadn't read this sooner. Princess Irene lives on the side of a beautiful mountain that harbors a dark secret in terms of a goblin kingdom, whose rulers are pursuing a nefarious purpose--nothing less than kidnapping the princess. She and her nurse are rescued from one nearly tragic ve This is the book that G. K. Chesterton said "made a difference to my whole existence." I am not sure that I can say the same but I did find myself impressed once again with George MacDonald's writing and asking why I hadn't read this sooner. Princess Irene lives on the side of a beautiful mountain that harbors a dark secret in terms of a goblin kingdom, whose rulers are pursuing a nefarious purpose--nothing less than kidnapping the princess. She and her nurse are rescued from one nearly tragic venture into the wilds at night by the son of a miner, Curdie by name, who sings the goblins away with his verse and leads them to the castle. Though chastised, the princess acquires a mysterious friend, a wise great grandmother, ageless it seems. Not all believe she exists or can see her, but Princess Irene can. Later, a strong silver thread that the grandmother has given her leads her to return the favor and rescue Curdie, when he falls captive to the goblins after repeated attempts to discover their nefarious purposes in digging under the mountain. Irene takes him to see the great grandmother, but he can see neither the thread nor the grandmother and leaves pettishly, despite his rescue. From here events lead rapidly to the climax of a goblin invasion to seize Princess Irene. I will leave you discover what happens, particularly to the awful goblin queen with stone shoes to cover her six toed feet! Like a good fairy tale or fantasy, the story works on multiple levels. We have the fear of things that go bump in the night and acts of courage and heroism and the thin line between these and foolhardiness. There is the question of what is belief--is it the delusion of believing something that doesn't exist or the belief in something marvelous and yet the "substance of things not seen." Both the Princess and Curdie are faced with this choice. Is there really a grandmother? Can I trust where the thread will lead me or that it is even there? How will I act when others don't believe me? And there is the question of how one will conduct oneself in the absence of the king-papa as one awaits his return. How watchful will we be? Will Irene become who she is as the Princess and not simply a protected child? This book came as a pleasant diversion from "weightier" books and yet not from "weightier" themes. And perhaps that is the value for adults of reading a story supposedly for "children".

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