Description: In the first book, Curdie is an almost perfect young boy, fearless and valiant, and though only twelve he is instrumental in saving the kingdom from a goblin plot. In The Princess and Curdie, though, he sets out becoming more and more ordinary, until by good fortune he comes face to face with the mysterious old woman rumored to live in the nearby tower (the Princess already knows her quite well!). The old woman prepares Curdie for a quest she is sending him on. How? By having him plunge his hands into a pile of rose petals that burns like a fire.
Though Curdie thinks his hands have burned off, he finds them unscathed. But they have a new sensitivity: by shaking a person's hand, he can tell what kind of an animal they are turning into, at heart. The old woman also gives him a companion-a hideous dog-like beast, but whose great ugly paw feels to Curdie like the hand of a little girl.
Curdie travels to the capitol city, where he finds the kingdom in a sorry state, his friend the Princess near despair, and her King-Papa ensnared and enfeebled by the devious plots of the all-too-real and believable officials of the court. The threat posed to the kingdom by those who serve in the castle is far greater than the earlier threat posed by the goblins.