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The Portent and Other Stories

George MacDonald

Book Overview: 

This is the story of a daring college student's quest to win the icy heart of a beautiful girl. Unfortunately, the girl is the daughter of a cunning and sadistic master artist, who takes the student as an apprentice with the express intent of torturing the youth with his own hopeless love. The story is set in late 16 century Prague, amid mysterious happenings and the terrifying rumors of a vampire on the loose.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .Soon she expressed a desire to know something of figures. We commenced arithmetic. I proposed geometry along with it, and found the latter especially fitted to her powers. One by one we included several other necessary branches; and ere long I had four around the schoolroom table—equally my pupils. Whether the attempts previously made to instruct her had been insufficient or misdirected, or whether her intellectual powers had commenced a fresh growth, I could not tell; but I leaned to the latter conclusion, especially after I began to observe that her peculiar remarks had become modified in form, though without losing any of their originality. The unearthliness of her beauty likewise disappeared, a slight colour displacing the almost marbly whiteness of her cheek.

Long before Lady Alice had made this progress, my nightly struggles began to diminish in violence. They had now entirely ceased. The temptation had left me. I felt certain that for we. . . Read More

Community Reviews

I am a fan of George MacDonald, and would like to read all his works. This was not one of his strongest novels, and the reasons are structural. In the early chapters, the narrator/protagonist is introduced to a ghostly tale of love and revenge which seems to bear mysteriously on his own fate, but...more

I'm going to say 4 instead of 5 because I think that I may have liked his original version better which ends differently (no spoilers here). It was originally published as a serial but then edited into a book form. Anywho, it's a great read. I love it's Scottishness and how I feel like this fits...more

The story of a young Scots gentleman of around 1810. He takes a job as a tutor for an English lord while hoping to get a commission in the Scots Grays. He is haunted by occasional flashes of Second Sight, and receives some advice from an old Scotswoman with a good dose of it. A story of how love...more

A decent work of 19th century speculative fiction, I originally thought this book was written in the 1970's simply because of the awful cover. Whoops!

Strange occurrences, ghosts in the old Hilton Hall? Was Lady Alice a ghost from the past, or real? Would Duncan find true love?
Read for yourself in a short novel of old.

Full title: "The Portent: A Story of the Inner Vision of the Highlanders, Commonly Called the Second Sight" 1864 Interesting mix of his folk/fairy-tale-type stories and a regular non-magic-type story. Ghosts and tales of the past are very near the material world and have their influence on the ch...more

This story was originally serialized in three parts in the Cornhill Magazine for May, June, and July 1860. In 1864, George MacDonald expanded the story and published it in book form. He added a happy ending.
One of my favorite passages is the paragraph that ended the original version.
"They say t...more

Wow---what a book. A little known work of George MacDonald---but well worth the time to find one. We found an out of print copy on Amazon---and we are wanting to find more copies so we can have a bookclub about it. All of my daughters need to read this!

I agree with some other reviewers about the potential of this book. The beginning ghostly tale was so wonderful and I expected it to tie into the story of Duncan and Alice so much more than it did. It really does make me think that MacDonald had planned to do more with it. This story was still ve...more

just feelings

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