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The Princess and the Goblin

(Princess Irene and Curdie #1)

3.99  ·  Rating details ·  31,565 ratings  ·  1,987 reviews
Princess Irene's discovery of a secret stair leads to a wonderful revelation. At the same time, Curdie overhears a fiendish plot by the goblins. Princess Irene & Curdie must make sense of their separate knowledge & foil the goblins' schemes. ...more
Paperback, 241 pages
Published March 1st 1997 by Puffin (first published 1872)
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Kristy Perkins The Princess and the Goblin story and illustrations were first published starting in November 1870 as a serial in the monthly magazine Good Words for …moreThe Princess and the Goblin story and illustrations were first published starting in November 1870 as a serial in the monthly magazine Good Words for the Young.
The book was first published in 1872.(less)

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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
Dec 10, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy
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)
Goblins and dwarves
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
Sanjay Gautam
Oct 19, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
No wonder why Tolkien and CS Lewis admired this tale. A very fine and enchanting story.
Jason Koivu
Oct 14, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
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
Bentley ★
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 ...more
Sep 06, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Cindy Rollins
Feb 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: morningtime, 2016
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.

Feb 01, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 rated it it was amazing
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
Barnabas Piper
Sep 18, 2011 rated it it was amazing
One of the best children's stories ever, and of course by that I mean one of the best stories for anyone. ...more
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 ...more
Jan 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jul 23, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this little fairytale. This was actually a reread, but the first time I read it was for a college assignment and I can’t seem to recall which class it was for or anything about it. I, of course, Googled it to find out the meaning and symbolism of the story because I was sure there was an underlying theme here and I was feeling too lazy to peruse this myself. 🤦🏻‍♀️🤷🏻‍♀️ It’s unsurprisingly religion, but for the purpose of this review, I’m not going to get into that.

The main char
May 04, 2008 rated it really liked it
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! ...more
Daniel Ionson
Mar 12, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
Supreme children's book, and a deep inspiration for JRRT's The Hobbit. ...more
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
Sara Saif
Sep 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing

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 ta
Cynthia Egbert
Dec 15, 2008 rated it really liked it
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!!!
Douglas Wilson
May 26, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
Excellent and then some.
Robert Dunbar
Oct 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
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.
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
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
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. ...more
Oct 27, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is what I perceive as an epitome of classic fairy tales. Fantastical, imaginative, and is chock full of adventure and thrills. This is my first George MacDonald and this book didn't fail to enchant me. The magic is still there even after I closed the book!

I adored everything about this book. The story, the cast of characters (some endearing and some unlikable), and last but definitely not least, the fantastical elements and imaginary woven in it.
I was a bit concerned about "goblins" due to
E.B. Dawson
Feb 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: classics
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. ...more
Julie Davis
Oct 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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
Danielle N
Jul 14, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fairy-tale
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
Feb 21, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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. ...more
Oct 10, 2017 rated it liked it
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.
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George MacDonald was a Scottish author, poet, and Christian minister.

He was educated at Aberdeen University and after a short and stormy career as a minister at Arundel, where his unorthodox views led to his dismissal, he turned to fiction as a means of earning a living. He wrote over 50 books.

Known particularly for his poignant fairy tales and fantasy novels, MacDonald inspired many authors, such

Other books in the series

Princess Irene and Curdie (2 books)
  • The Princess and Curdie (Princess Irene and Curdie, #2)

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What will you do when it's your turn to pick your book club's next read? Well, this is what you won't do: panic. Why not? Because we've dug...
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“Seeing is not believing - it is only seeing.” 195 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.”
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