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George MacDonald – The Princess and Curdie

May 23, 2011

63. The Princess and Curdie by George MacDonald (1882)
Princess and Goblin, book 2

Read my review of book:
1. The Princess and the Goblin

Length: 256 pages
Genre: Victorian Children’s Fairy-Tale

Started: 03 May 2011
Finished: 06 May 2011

Where did it come from? Downloaded for free for the Kindle.
Why do I have it? I liked the first book well enough, and I was intrigued by a sequel that promised more Curdie.

To save the kingdom,
Curdie must first rout out the
corruption he finds.

Summary: After the goblin’s evil plans have been defeated, the king takes Princess Irene away from the mountains, where Curdie is left behind to tend the mines with his father. Irene’s magical great-great-grandmother stays behind, however, and soon sets Curdie on a path towards the city, for something is going horribly wrong in the kingdom… something that only Curdie can set right.

Review: Meh. This book followed more of a straightforward storyline than did the first book – essentially a standard adventure-quest story. But it lacked some of the charm of the first book, and it didn’t grab my attention in the way that I hoped it would. I think part of my problem was in its strangely inconsistent morality, especially in regards to violence. Curdie, with his miner’s mattock, does a fair amount of damage to people, animals and property, and Lina, the strange ugly semi-dog that he picks up as a companion, is pretty vicious in parts. There’s a fair amount of leg-breaking, and finger-biting-off, and even killing by the protagonists, which is treated as a-okay, because Curdie is pure of heart (as heroes are wont to be), so it’s right and proper that he subdue the bad guys however he must. The ending is similarly strange; giving us the expected fairy-tale happy ending… and then continuing for an additional page about how things turned to crap and corruption after the happy ending. I guess I couldn’t get a handle on when (if ever) the story was being tongue-in-cheek, and if it was being serious, what point it was trying to make. 2 out of 5 stars.

Recommendation: Most of the action is independent of the events of The Princess and the Goblin, so it could be read independently, but on its own merits I wouldn’t rank it very high on anybody’s must-read list, unless Victorian children’s lit is a particular passion of theirs.

This Review on LibraryThing | This Book on LibraryThing | This Book on Amazon

Other Reviews: Have you reviewed this book? Leave a comment with the link and I’ll add it in.

First Line: Curdie was the son of Peter the miner.

Vocab: (see the whole list)

  • Location 81: “There were people in the country who, when it came into their hands, degraded it by locking it up in a chest, and then it grew diseased and was called mammon, and bred all sorts of quarrels; but when first it left the king’s hands it never made any but friends, and the air of the world kept it clean.” – a personification of riches as an evil spirit or deity.
  • Location 262: “All at once a light seemed to break in upon his mind, and he woke up and there was the withered little atomy of the old lady on the other side of the moonlight, and there was the spinning wheel singing on and on in the middle of it!” – a small creature; pygmy.
  • Location 452: “Sometimes the colours ran together, and made a little river or lake of lambent, interfusing, and changing tints, which, by their variegation, seemed to imitate the flowing of water, or waves made by the wind.” – softly bright or radiant.
  • Location 613: “Whose great clusters of carbuncles, rubies, and chrysoberyls hung down like the bosses of groined arches, and in its centre hung the most glorious lamp that human eyes ever saw – the Silver Moon itself, a globe of silver, as it seemed, with a heart of light so wondrous potent that it rendered the mass translucent, and altogether radiant.” – a mineral, beryllium aluminate, occurring in green or yellow crystals, sometimes used as a gem.
  • Location 901: “Commerce and self-interest, they said, had got the better of violence, and the troubles of the past were whelmed in the riches that flowed in at their open gates.” – to submerge; engulf.
  • Location 1080: “Presently came the sound of the great rusty key in the lock, which yielded with groaning reluctance; the door was thrown back, the light rushed in, and with it came the voice of the city marshal, calling upon Curdie, by many legal epithets opprobrious, to come forth and be tried for his life, inasmuch as he had raised a tumult in His Majesty’s city of Gwyntystorm, troubled the hearts of the king’s baker and barber, and slain the faithful dogs of His Majesty’s well-beloved butchers.” – conveying or expressing the reproach incurred by conduct considered outrageously shameful, as language or a speaker.
  • Location 2128: “They crept home like chidden hounds.” – scolded or reproached.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. May 23, 2011 7:29 am

    Wow, I didn’t even realize that there was a sequel.

    • May 27, 2011 9:44 am

      Christina – Yup! Although the action’s relatively independent.

  2. May 23, 2011 5:53 pm

    I loved both of those as a child – I’d read them during visits my parents made to an elderly parishioner – she was quite pleased that I liked her books. (I probably got there with my Dad and plunked myself next to her bookshelves looking for a book to read. Oh, the joys of childhood. Couldn’t get away with that as an adult.)

    • May 27, 2011 9:48 am

      Carrie – Oh, what a nice story!

      (And I say nuts to not being able to get away with that as an adult… most parties/gatherings/visits to new people’s houses I gravitate towards the bookshelves within a few minutes of getting there. :)

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