Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Princess and the Goblin” as Want to Read:
Blank 133x176
Princess and the Goblin
George MacDonald
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview
Read Book* *Different edition

Princess and the Goblin (Princess Irene and Curdie #1)

3.99 of 5 stars 3.99  ·  rating details  ·  19,401 ratings  ·  987 reviews
Young Princess Irene's belief in her great-grandmother's powers becomes essential as she and the miner Curdie work to foil the sinister Goblin plot against the king and his palace.

As always with George MacDonald, everything here is more than meets the eye: this in fact is MacDonald's grace-filled vision of the world. Said to be one of JRR Tolkien's childhood favorites, it
Mass Market Paperback
Published by Peter Smith Publisher (first published 1872)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Princess and the Goblin, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Princess and the Goblin

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
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
Zoë (readbyzoe)
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
Feb 24, 2008 Chloe rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Children and fairytale lovers.
Recommended to Chloe by: A booklist (maybe by Michael D. O'Brien).
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
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
Barnabas Piper
One of the best children's stories ever, and of course by that I mean one of the best stories for anyone.
May 12, 2008 Vanessa rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone!
Recommended to Vanessa by: Stefanie
Shelves: book-club-books
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!
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
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
I read this as a child and loved it! I still think about the book, and look at my sensitive feet in dismay!
Just finished reading this with my nine year old daughter. It took us a while to get into the Christian imagery. The imagery itself is just beautiful; there are images of God, prayer and answers to prayer to name a few.

All of the greatest fantasy novels depict the great trials that humans must go through in life. Though there may be magic in the tale, it does not make the going easy. My fairy tale mindedness sometimes wonders why with the zap of a wand all cannot be made well, but deep inside me
First time reading this for years. Just as much fun as I remembered
Mary Catelli
A tale of a little princess growing up in a country house/castle -- kept carefully inside for the danger of the goblins who live in the mountains.

On one rainy day, Princess Irene wanders in the house, gets lost, finds a woman spinning in the tower, unbeknownst to anyone inside -- her great-great-grandmother Irene. On the first clear day after that storm, she goes walking with her nurse-- too far -- and can not return before nightfall, when the goblins start to menace them. Fortunately, they meet
"'People must believe what they can, and those who believe more must not be hard upon those who believe less.'"

"The Princess and the Goblin" is a charmingly simple fairy tale--which is to say, it is superficially uncomplicated but full of imagery and themes ripe for symbolic or metaphorical interpretation. (Some of the language and themes may sound a bit trite to modern ears, but that might say more about modern ears than it does about the language and themes.) George MacDonald's work influenced
This is a children's book, and is a little didactic in the vein of Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia. What I love about this book is its feeling of wonder. The first time I read about Irene's grandmother, I was scared and inspired at the same time. Both this and the Princess and Curdie are extended allegories about faith and hope. The Princess and Curdie is, for me, stranger and more apocalyptic, and I enjoy it less than The Princess and the Goblin. Check out MacDonald's shorter fairy tales, too (The ...more
This was my first George MacDonald book and was recommended for my ladies classics book club by a few of my girlfriends who love it. I did enjoy it even though I felt like I was reading a children's book. I normally do not read fantasy and found the creativity and imagination of MacDonald to be delightful. His depiction of the cob's animals was one of my favorite parts. I also liked the sweet relationship between Irene and her King-papa and the some of the conversations between Irene and Curdie ...more
Sophie Weeks
I loved this book--I can't think how MacDonald has been excluded from the canon of classic children's literature, except by his relatively outlandish theologies. But being friendly to outlandish theologies, I admired how flawlessly and evocatively MacDonald lays out his images of the divine feminine. MacDonald, like the Inklings whom his work later inspired (C.S. Lewis said MacDonald's Phantastes "baptized his imagination"), creates by sheer force of will a space to talk about faith and mysterie ...more
Literary Ames {Against GR Censorship}
29% read - 9 chapters. DNF. Long-winded and dull. Great-great-grandmother, Princess Irene's namesake, was the only vaguely interesting thing about this one.

Downloaded from Project Gutenberg.
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 book has been on my shelf since I was, I think, eleven. My father bought it for me even though I didn't seem to think I wanted to read it. Fast forward eight years and I can say this truly was a well written book that children will enjoy for it's fantasy and themes of bravery, and will be able to relate to the characters themselves. Removing this from dusty corners of my bookshelf, I will be honest, my interest in reading this only perked up when I learnt that it had served as inspiration f ...more
Prudence Chan
George MacDonald's stories are always so full of symbolic meanings. If you read between the lines, you'll find the story full of creative allegories of faith and hope. There're always questions to ponder and choices to make within the stories, which make his work a good place for self reflection. This story about the princess who has a childlike faith reminded me of believing without seeing. There is a gradual process of the maturing of the princess's faith from the moment she met the great grea ...more
If you like Tolkien you will quiver with delight and dread over the beauty and darkness of this book. MacDonald was an influence on Tolkien and Lewis, etc. In here you will find some of the seeds of the LOTR, such as hideous goblins and their dark, corrupt origins, cavernous journeys in subterranean mines of misty mountains, heroic innocence and magic. But the magic in MacDonald is perhaps more exotic and strange and beautiful than that of Tolkien. Invisible threads spun of spider's webs, flamin ...more
A peculiar book by modern standards. I found it readable, but not very interesting.

There's no real plot until about three-quarters of the way through. There are unrelated events. Some are interesting, some are mysterious and develop mild suspense for that reason, but there's no force driving any character, no goals in sight, and no serious threat to any character. Characters are dull. Good characters are treacly, evil or foolish characters are evil or foolish without being interesting.

The end is
My introduction to George MacDonald. Upon finishing The Princess and the Goblin with my daughter, we went on to read The Princess and Curdie, The Light Princess and The Wise Woman in quick succession. His style is more conversational than Lewis (and often more preachy), more focused and intimate than Tolkien in The Hobbit and LOTR. MacDonald is not bringing us into a world of epic fantasy, but using fantasy as a vehicle to convey his ideas about reality, which are, to me, some of the most refres ...more
Ok,so I'm entirely biased here. I grew up with the movie by the same name and loved it! (I now want to watch the film again because from what I remember, it was pretty faithful to the book.)
That being said, the book is quite loverly. It was a very quick and easy read, but it was sweet and funny. Irene's grandmother, or great-great-great grandmother (can't remember how many greats there are), was a very interesting character with all of her magics. I was extra curious about it when I found out th
My appreciation of this story doesn't seem to end. I remember reading it as a little girl and liking it. I've reread it over the years and still like it, in fact maybe I like it better now than I did when I was younger.

I can appreciate more the depiction of faith in the story, and the importance of trust and kindness to others. But it's also just a good tale. I'd call it sweet, but in this day and age that sounds weak and silly, and this story isn't. Lovely to read and reread.
George MacDonald's children's fantasy book was written in the 1800s, so it definitely has an antiquated feel that sets it apart from the children's books of today. I don't know whether many kids in 2010 could get through the old-fashioned vocabulary and rambling descriptions. I enjoyed the view into another era moreso than the story itself. Had it been written today, I don't know whether I would have cared as much for it.
This was one of the seminal books of my childhood. George MacDonald's work inspired a legion of fantasy writers who came after him, including Tolkien. This book, though simply plotted, resonates with beautiful, evocative writing and a simple call for greater morality in everyday life.
A charming and surprisingly deep fairy tale. George MacDonald always claimed he didn't write for children, but for the child-like, and though this was first publishing in 1872, it doesn't have the usual heavy-handed moralism of nineteenth century children's lit. But it is deeply moral, and there is some allegory going on that it would probably take a few re-readings to completely decipher. However, even taken strictly at face value the story is exciting and imaginative.

I listened to a particular
Kelsey Hanson
There, I read this book. Now get off my back Goodreads. For reasons I don't entirely understand Goodreads takes it upon itself to constantly recommend certain books over and over until I cave and read them. This was one of them and I know that it's considered a classic by many, but I found it weird. My biggest issue is that I felt bad for Lootie, Irene's nurse, who gets a lot of abuse for what I consider perfectly logical reactions. It also bothers me that there's never any attempt at explanatio ...more
David Russell Mosley
Read in the following years:
2011 (October 26)
2013 (12-19 October)
2015 (23 April-11 June)
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
  • The Enchanted Castle
  • The King of the Golden River
  • The Little White Horse
  • Undine
  • Descent Into Hell
  • Of Other Worlds: Essays and Stories
  • The Green Fairy Book
  • The Heroes, or, Greek Fairy Tales for My Children
  • Tales of the Restoration (Tales of the Kingdom, #3)
  • Once on a Time
  • Crown and Jewel (Bracken Trilogy, #2)
George MacDonald was a Scottish author, poet, and Christian minister.

Known particularly for his poignant fairy tales and fantasy novels, George MacDonald inspired many authors, such as W. H. Auden, J. R. R. Tolkien, C. S. Lewis, and Madeleine L'Engle. It was C.S. Lewis that wrote that he regarded MacDonald as his "master": "Picking up a copy of Phantastes one day at a train-station bookstall, I be
More about George MacDonald...

Other Books in the Series

Princess Irene and Curdie (2 books)
  • The Princess and Curdie
The Princess and Curdie Phantastes At the Back of the North Wind The Light Princess Lilith

Share This Book

“Seeing is not believing - it is only seeing.” 147 likes
“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.”
More quotes…