The Princess and the Goblin by George MacDonald
Reviewed by Jason Koivu
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
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. After numerous generations style, appearance and content changes. MacDonald's book looks old, out of date, almost irrelevant, and to modern readers of the genre it might appear as if it has nothing to do current trends. Princesses with grannies and nurses, a miner boy who wards off goblins with rhymes, goblins who can be defeated via their feet...What does any of this have to do with the magic, swords, the undead, assassins, dragons and bastard kings of today? It all had to start somewhere.
For nostalgia sake, I gave this an extra star. Granted, this is not the kind of fantasy I'd like to read for the rest of eternity. However, it was nice to see one of the origin stories. It's like witnessing a birth. Fans of Tolkien, for instance, can look into this book and see the likeness in its descendants such as The Hobbit. Fairies such as goblins have been a part of lore, legend and beloved bedtime stories since before books, so it was great seeing an early depiction of such classic characters as the Goblin King, without which we'd never have this...
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