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4.6 out of 5 stars25
4.6 out of 5 stars
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on 4 August 1999
I had to go into the stacks in one place I lived to find this wonderful tale but every time I read it I relive the wonder and thrill of the first time I found this warm and wonderful story. It is full of magic which never fades. I keep young reading good books like this to my grandchildren and soon a great-grandchild. I am over 70 now but this is a story that never loses its wonder for me and for those I read it to. Read it and love it; no matter your age!
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It's a credit to "Princess and the Goblin" that its author was a personal favorite (and shaping influence) to fantasy titans C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien. But if their liking for George MacDonald's works isn't enough to impress, then take it just for what it is: A creepy, unique, compelling work of early fantasy.

Little Princess Irene has always been kept in ignorance of the goblins -- until one night when she and her nursemaid stay out a bit too late, and are chased by a bizarre creature. They are rescued by a young miner boy, Curdie, who tells her the way to deal with them.

While mining, Curdie explores underground caverns where the goblins dwell, uncovers a terrible plot -- and is taken captive by the malignant goblin queen. And Irene explores a mysterious tower where her magical "great-grandmother" lives -- not knowing yet that she's at the center of the goblins' plotting, and that Curdie may be her only hope.

Like many early fantasy stories, "The Princess and the Goblin" is a book completely free of cliches. Written in the 1800s, this book has the flavour of a long-forgotten fairy tale that MacDonald simply dug up and presented to the public. We have goblins, monsters, a heroic young boy, a brave princess, noble kings and magical ladies. What else is a fairy tale about?

It's also striking for its mixture of childlike optimism and extraordinary writing. MacDonald often writes some scenes with the sort of twee flavour of many nineteenth-century novels, with chirrupy kids and kindly servants. But he also can whip up some truly amazing atmosphere: exquisite moonlit scenes that play out like dreams, or underground disasters that sound like nightmares.

Similarly, it's a credit to him that the characters of Curdie and Irene are as likable as they are. Irene in particular is a triumph, since she borders on twitty sometimes. Perhaps that was deliberate, since this little girl gradually grows in strength and guts as the book progresses, bringing her up to speed with the more mature Curdie.

Part fable and part-fairy tale, and populated with goblins, miners and magical grandmothers, "The Princess and the Goblin" is an enchanting prelude to the modern fantasy genre.
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on 18 December 2001
Such a wonderful story - I love the characters, and agree with the other reviewer about the scene with the bath in the deep pool. Absolutely magical and beautifully written. I recommend this book very highly indeed.
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on 20 July 2010
I just found this book for the first time. It has clearly been very influential on many important people - not just Tolkien, CS Lewis and probably JK Rowling but the voice of the nurse is clearly who the actress in Blackadder II modelled hers on!

The non-specificity of the location is masterful. European and mountainous, not English, maybe Scottish or... and that sets the scene for the other necessary breaches of the laws of physics and geography. It is a truly magical read, scary at times but always knowing that there is a fairy grandmother in the background and an honest hero in Curdie who will save the day.

The langage is very accessible and if it is slightly dated that only adds to the charm of the piece. The tone is kindly, humourous and direct. His words draw pictures so bright I wish I could draw. I felt like I was sitting on George Macdonald's knee spellbound as he read in his soft Highland accent so long ago.... I am off to soak up some more of his marvels.
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VINE VOICEon 31 March 2006
I read this book at seven years of age and absolutely loved it! It is one of very few books which still holds the fascination it had for me back then. The wonder of the novel is the down-to-earth writing style - the author makes very few concessions to his child-readers which is something today's children's authors could learn.
You should read it and fall in love with Curdie and Irene and their charm. It is unwavering.
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on 5 August 2010
Delighted to have such a nice paperback presentation of a book which no child should miss. Very pleasing to find all the pictures from the original edition which was read to me 70 years ago ... which I still have for comparison. Full recommendation.
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on 7 January 2006
My Daughter aged 9 loved this book and will read it again. My 10 year old son thought it was ok, but not quite his cup of tea. Perhaps a good book for girls. Quality literature though. used as part of our home schooling course.
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on 10 June 2014
I first came across one of George MacDonald’s books when I was eight years old. I was in the school library when I picked up a rather thick book for an eight year old with an intriguing title: The Princess and the Goblin. There was some illustrations inside which made the book seem even more promising. I knew nothing then about the author or when the book was written. I knew no one who had read it who could recommend it to me. Yet I had a strong instinct and borrowed the book completely undaunted by fellow schoolmates who told me it looked too hard to read.

What makes a book a good book? What makes it a classic? We often fall in love with books because of how well-written it may be or how exciting the story is. Sometimes it is the flow of the language that mesmerises us, sometimes it maybe a sense of humour. Other times it may be the gripping plot of the characters who have to leap through barriers, find their courage and overcome against all odds. The Princess And The Goblin has all these things but there were two aspects about that book which particular gripped me when I was a child. First-after being sad for the little princess who had no mother, the story then unfolds to reveal a wonderful surprise for the princess — that of unconditional love. I was filled with such joy for the main character and longed to experience the same. Second-the story is enveloped in mysterious magic that keeps you guessing about the little princess’ Great-great-Grandmother. I couldn’t put the book down and when I got to the end of the book, I began reading it all over again. Two years later I discovered the sequel, The Princess And Curdie.

I have since read the books to each of my six children and hope to read it to my grand-children. If I had an essential reading list, The Princess And The Goblin would be on it.
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on 1 July 2014
This is a truly beautiful story. It kept me hooked throughout a train ride, and it just felt sensational. George MacDonald's style is just perfect; it is written for children, but does not assume that children are unintelligent. Nor is it without interest to an adult who likes a skilfully written fantasy story; there is a clear battle going on between the people above ground and the goblins who were driven down deep into the mines. These goblins are also the early forerunners of the goblin breeds that Tolkien, who was inspired by MacDonald invented in his own mythology. The characters of Irene and Curdie are just wonderful; Irene is the ideal child's heroine from the start, as is Curdie as a hero, and Lootie, being the character who brings skepticism aplenty into the story is easy to dislike what with her unashamedly claiming that Irene is a nuisance and a liar. The chapters in which she visits her grandmother are both mysteriously lovely and also serious, and radiate with a sense of some mystical healing energy that is beautiful to read and easy to understand. I highly recommend this book, and am very happy with it; I received it as a Christmas present and what a present it is too, with a profile on the author, a glossary of words, and more. It is a pleasure to read and extremely satisfying.
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on 29 March 2013
I bought this as a prize. Excellent quality in production and content. The child aged 8 was delighted with it.
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