The Princess and the Goblin (Looking Glass Library)

The Princess and the Goblin (Looking Glass Library)

5.0 609
by George MacDonald, Arthur Hughes

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Afterword by Peter Glassman. "In the facsimile of the 1920 edition, exquisite illustrations enhance the story of a young princess who is protected by her friend from goblins that live beneath the castle."—Booklist. A Books of Wonder(R) Classic.


Afterword by Peter Glassman. "In the facsimile of the 1920 edition, exquisite illustrations enhance the story of a young princess who is protected by her friend from goblins that live beneath the castle."—Booklist. A Books of Wonder(R) Classic.

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Jennie DeGenaro
Boys and girls will find this an interesting book, especially since it was written in 1872, over 100 years ago, for students their own age. They will notice some changes in literary style. In those days the author would occasionally speak directly to the reader. Also, there is some stilted language and more descriptive passages than readers find today. The protagonists are Princess Irene, age eight, and a miner's son, Curdie, not much older. They meet under unusual circumstances and become friends, even though there is a social distance between them. Irene displays a royal, mysterious life, while Curdie exhibits faithfulness, loyalty, and dependability because of his home training. Unusual circumstances cause the princess to live near the mountains in a castle-farmhouse. Curdie and his parents live on a mountain nearby. The fearsome, dreadful goblins live in caverns under the mountains and keep out of the sunshine as much as possible. They also keep creatures (animals) with them that are horrifying to see. Dangerous encounters between the royal family and the goblins are described, as well as meetings between the miners and goblins. A horrifying, diabolical plan is uncovered when the goblin king and queen decide to kidnap the princess and make her the wife of their son "Hairlip." The "Looking Glass Library" series has compiled classics for children. Line drawings are taken from the 1872 publication in The Princess and the Goblin. Readers will long remember this book after it is read. Reviewer: Jennie DeGenaro

Product Details

Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
Looking Glass Library Series
Sold by:
Random House
File size:
5 MB
Age Range:
9 - 12 Years

Read an Excerpt


Why the Princess Has a Story about Her

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 halfway between its base and its peak.

The princess was a sweet little creature and at the time my story begins was about eight years old, I think, but she got older very fast. Her face was fair and pretty, with eyes like two bits of night sky, each with a star dissolved in the blue. Those eyes, you would have thought, must have known they came from there, so often were they turned up in that direction. The ceiling of her nursery was blue with stars in it, as like the sky as they could make it. But I doubt if ever she saw the real sky with the stars in it, for a reason, which I had better mention at once.

These mountains were full of hollow places underneath, huge caverns and winding ways, some with water running through them and some shining with all colors of the rainbow when a light was taken in. There would not have been much known about them had there not been mines there, great deep pits, with long galleries and passages running off from them, which had been dug to get at the ore of which the mountains were full. In the course of digging the miners came upon many of these natural caverns. A few of them had far-off openings out on the side of a mountain or into a ravine.

Now in these subterranean caverns lived a strange race of beings, called by some gnomes, by some kobolds, by some goblins. There was a legend current in the country that at one time they lived above ground and were very like other people. But for some reason or other, concerning which there were different legendary theories, the king had laid what they thought too severe taxes upon them, or required observances of them they did not like, or had begun to treat them with more severity in some way or other, and to impose stricter laws; and the consequence was that they had all disappeared from the face of the country. According to the legend, however, instead of going to some other country they had all taken refuge in the subterranean caverns, whence they never came out but at night, and then seldom showed themselves in any numbers and never to many people at once. It was only in the least frequented and most difficult parts of the mountains that they were said to gather, even at night in the open air. Those who had caught sight of any of them said that they had greatly altered in the course of generations; and no wonder, seeing they lived away from the sun, in cold and wet and dark places. They were now, not ordinarily ugly, but either absolutely hideous or ludicrously grotesque both in face and form. There was no invention, they said, of the most lawless imagination expressed by pen or pencil, that could surpass the extravagance of their appearance. And as they grew misshapen in body, they had grown in knowledge and cleverness and now were able to do things no mortal could see the possibility of. But as they grew in cunning, they grew in mischief, and their great delight was in every way they could think of to annoy the people who lived in the open-air story above them. 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 possession, 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. In the process of time they had got a king and a government of their own, whose chief business, beyond their own simple affairs, was to devise trouble for their neighbors. It will now be pretty evident why the little princess had never seen the sky at night. They were much too afraid of the goblins to let her out of the house then, even in company with ever so many attendants; and they had good reason, as we shall see by and by.

From the Hardcover edition.

Meet the Author

George Macdonald (1824-1905) was born at Huntly, Aberdeenshire, Scotland, where his father was a miller and his family Congregationalists. As a young man he was ordained a minister of the Congregational church but he resigned after a disagreement with his deacons over doctrine, and from 1853 he earned his living by lecturing and writing, often in poor health, which meant periodic travelling in search of purer air for his lungs. In 1851 he married Louisa Powell, with whom he spent a long and happy life, sadly ending in grief when three of his thirteen children died of tuberculosis and he suffered a stroke that deprived him of speech for his last five years. He was a prolific writer, yet it is his fantasies for children that have survived. The Princess and the Goblin was the second of these, published first as a serial in Good Words for the Young, a periodical of which he became editor for a short time in 1869. About a hundred years later W.H. Auden wrote, 'To me, George MacDonald's most extraordinary, and precious, gift is his ability, in all his stories, to create an atmosphere of goodness about which there is nothing phone or moralistic. Nothing is rarer in literature.'

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The Princess and the Goblin 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 609 reviews.
kaseysimba More than 1 year ago
Please read this book! It was absolutely charming. I used to love the cartoon when I was really young, so I wanted to read the book. I remember loving how Irene found a mysterious area of her house where she met her great-great-grandmother, and this book definitely captured that same feeling, only it was about a million times better.
darthlaurie More than 1 year ago
When I was a baby my parents bought this Colliers collection of books that had a ton of different stories and poems. A lot of those books were lost by the time I was five or six. The Fairy Tales and Legends book wasn't lost and I read it from cover to cover when I was in third grade. One of my favorite stories was the first chapter of The Princess and the Goblin. It was enchanting. I didn't realize back then that it was only the first chapter of a wonderful book. A couple years later I discovered MacDonald's The Light Princess and I loved it just as much, not realizing that both tales were written by the same author. It wasn't until I started working at a university library many years later and had a hankering for reading The Light Princess again that I connected the two stories. I thumbed through The Princess and the Goblin and realized it was the story of Princess Irene. George MacDonald was a brilliant writer. He has a soothing omnipotent grandfatherly voice that shines through his stories. You know that Princess Irene and Curdy will be okay in their adventures. The stories are well written and fun to read. I think they're timeless and if I had chosen to have children, they would be well acquainted with George MacDonald's fairy tales. If you're looking for a fairy tale that hasn't been Disneyfied and told too often, check out The Princess and the Goblin or The Light Princess. Curdy also has his own adventures and they're every bit as delightful as the other books.
HomeSchoolBookReview More than 1 year ago
Eight-year-old Princess Irene resides in a remote castle with her nurse Lootie and several other servants while her papa-king travels all over his kingdom. The reason that the Princess lives in seclusion is that the goblins who dwell under the mountain have sworn revenge on the king’s family. In addition, she has a mysterious and magical great-great-grandmother who is watching over her but who is seen by nobody else besides her. Also, she becomes friends with a twelve-year-old boy named Curdie who is the son of a local miner. When Irene and Lootie get lost after dark while on a walk in the mountains and are chased by goblins, they first meet Curdie who protects them from the goblins and helps to get them home safely. He pledges himself to guard the Princess. The goblins have hatched a double plot in which they plan to steal Irene to become the wife of their Prince Harelip and to use the mines to flood the castle. While working in the mines, Curdie overhears part of their plans but is captured and imprisoned by the goblins. However, Irene’s grandmother gives her a special thread by which she is led to rescue Curdie and get both of them back home again. Curdie sneaks onto the castle grounds one night to see if he can learn more about the goblins’ plans but is mistaken for a prowler by the king’s guards and shot with an arrow. He not only is imprisoned but also becomes quite sick with a fever. It is during this very time that the goblins mount their attack. Will they be successful? Will the Princess be saved or will she become the bride of Harelip? And what will happen to Curdie? Scottish-born author George MacDonald (1824-1905), though theologically considered a heretic, was a masterful storyteller who is often credited with inventing the genre of children’s fantasy literature and influenced such later youth fantasy writers as J. R. R. Tolkien, C. S. Lewis, and Madeline L’Engle. MacDonald began his literary career by telling fairy stories to his eleven children and then putting onplays for the poor in his neighborhood with his large family as the cast. His first such novel was At the Back of the North Wind published in 1871. The Princess and the Goblin was serialized in a journal called Good Words for the Young between 1870 and 1871 and then published in book form the following year. To be honest, this is one of the most fascinating and enjoyable books that I have ever read. The story of the Princess Irene and her friend Curdie continues in a sequel, The Princess and Curdie. I guess that I’ll just have to read it too.
Dane_R_Trumbore More than 1 year ago
The Princess and the Goblin is an enchanting tale about the most delightful little girl to spark our imaginations! The only pitty is that the character isn't real! Of all the C.S. Lewis books that I enjoyed, including his Chronicles of Narnia series, I have to say that The Princess and the Goblin captured my heart the most, and that George Macdonald is the great father and originator of litterary fantasy.
TinselHair More than 1 year ago
I thought it would be neat to read a fairy tale written in 1872 and found both the tale and manner of speech delightful. The author writes as if he is addressing a live audience and the tale, while slow in parts, is interesting enough to want to hear more. I look forward to reading more about the main characters in "The Princess and Curdie." It's a chance to see how fairy tales were written 150 years ago, how different they were, and how little some things have changed. (I also like the Nook feature that lets me look up a word on the spot - this story has more than a few unfamiliar words.)
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is one of my favorite books. I couldn't put it down after I started it. Anybody who enjoys fantasy or fairy tales will love this book. It is an amazing adventure that you can't wait to read more of. Anybody who reads this should then read The Princess and Curdie.
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