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63 of 63 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An enchanting fairy tale for all ages
It's hard to categorize "The Thirteen Clocks" -- is it a children's fairy tale? a book for grown-ups? Who cares? Readers from 5 to 95 will enjoy this wonderful book; the kids for the story and the adults for Thurber's marvelous way with words. It's a simple little fantasy tale of an abducted princess, a murderous duke, and the prince who comes to her rescue. And it...
Published on December 30, 2003 by JLind555

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Brothers Grimm meets Salvador Dali
The 13 Clocks is a bit of Brothers Grimm meets Salvador Dali. It is a Gothic fairy tale with a plot as old as they come: A beautiful princess is held captive by an evil sorcerer. He will give her in marriage only to a suitor who can complete an impossible task. Failure means death. Then along comes a handsome prince, traveling incognito. What makes The 13 Clocks different...
Published 3 months ago by Steven Davis


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63 of 63 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An enchanting fairy tale for all ages, December 30, 2003
This review is from: The 13 Clocks (Hardcover)
It's hard to categorize "The Thirteen Clocks" -- is it a children's fairy tale? a book for grown-ups? Who cares? Readers from 5 to 95 will enjoy this wonderful book; the kids for the story and the adults for Thurber's marvelous way with words. It's a simple little fantasy tale of an abducted princess, a murderous duke, and the prince who comes to her rescue. And it starts off as all fairy tales should, with "Once upon a time..."

Thurber brings us the beautiful Princess Saralinda, the Duke of Coffin Castle who was so cold that he managed to stop time one snowy night when all thirteen clocks in the castle stopped at ten minutes to five and never started again, and Prince Zorn of Zorna, who called himself Xingu, the prince whose name begins with X and doesn't, who is the one man who can defeat the duke's evil plans and rescue Saralinda. But Thurber's best invention by far is the Golux, a spaced-out wizard whose spells have a way of backfiring from time to time, who assists Zorn in his quest to save the princess. And there is a deliciously spooky, never-seen monster called the Todal, that "smells of old, unopened rooms and sounds like rabbits screaming", who is the cold duke's infernal weapon, and, ultimately, his nemesis.

Thurber's way with words will leave you boggle-eyed. This is the quintessential read-aloud book and the kids love it. On the second or third reading they'll be chanting along with sentences like these: "The brambles and the thorns grew thick and thicker in a ticking thicket of bickering crickets..." And Thurber goes hogwild in making up all kinds of words that somehow managed to portray what he want to get across. When he tells us that the duke slits open his victims from their guggles to their zatches, you may not know exactly what is a guggle and what is a zatch, but you get the idea. And when the Todal gleeps while devouring a victim, we know just what Thurber is talking about. (Try going "gleep" way at the back of your throat and you'll see what I mean.)

"The Thirteen Clocks" is full of dark humor and the illustrations by Marc Simont are right in character -- dark, haunting and yet comical at the same time. The book is a great mix of a good story, good characters, good writing, and just plain good fun.

Judy Lind
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30 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Killing time; or thirteen frozen clocks, April 20, 2008
By 
James Thurber went to Bermuda to finish a book, and wrote The Thirteen Clocks instead. He says it was escapism and self-indulgence. If so, the world needs more self-indulgence, because this book is pure fun. It's a simple fairy tale, a book to be shared with a child. The water-color illustrations by Mark Simont are a perfect enhancement to the mood of the story.

The tale opens with an evil Duke in a gloomy castle--a Duke who is always cold. "We all have flaws," he says, "and mine is being wicked." (p. 114) The castle has thirteen clocks, all frozen at ten minutes to five. The lovely Princess Saralinda, "warm in every wind and weather," is the only warm thing in the castle and the Duke (her so-called uncle, though actually her kidnapper) purposefully thwarts all her suitors with tasks impossible to perform. When they have failed, he slits them from guggle to zatch and feeds them to the geese.

The Thirteen Clocks is built of standard fairy tale elements. A wandering minstrel who is really the youngest son of a king falls in love with Princess Saralinda and accepts a seemingly impossible test to win her hand. Assisted by a magical creature called Golux, he sets off to fulfill the test. Their progress is threatened by a number of unsavory characters; the Todal, for example, an agent of the devil sent to punish evil-doers for having done less evil than they should. Needless to say, all turns out well in the end.

The story itself may be standard, but the telling of it is typical Thurber wordplay. The Thirteen Clocks is not exactly poetry, but it begs to be read aloud for the rhythm, rhyme and alliteration. A particularly hectic passage from page 73 illustrates:

"The brambles and the thorns grew thick and thicker in a ticking thicket of bickering crickets. Farther along and stronger, bonged the gongs of a throng of frogs, green and vivid on their lily pads."

The quest complete, time unfrozen and the Princess won, the ecstatic couple ride toward the harbor. "The Princess Saralinda thought she saw, as people often think they see, on clear and windless days, the distant shining shores of Ever After. Your guess is quite as good as mine (there are a lot of things that shine) but I have always thought she did, and I will always think so."

I think so too, and if it takes a charming little book to remind me, then count me in.

Linda Bulger, 2008
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars my most favorite book, October 4, 2001
By 
Rebecca Shoemaker (Hagerstown, MD United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The 13 Clocks (Hardcover)
Thurber's "The Thirteen Clocks" is one of the best books ever written. The fairy-tale plot line appeals to both the young and the young at heart. No matter your age, after reading this book you will come away feeling like the world is not as rough of a place as it seemed about a half an hour ago. This book is also great to read to young children. While it doesn't have a poetic meter, the dialogue and narration progress in an almost sing-songy way that will hold the attention of even the most restless child.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars why my daughter always asks me to read this, December 21, 1999
By 
This review is from: The 13 Clocks (Hardcover)
...the writing is so lyrical, the characters so funny, and characteristic of thurber, frought with human flaws while still being heroes, and each adventure solved, in the end, by wit and ingenuity. the prose is beautifully tight. it is written, like E.B. White, for the inner ear -- sonorous, and full of Thurber mischief. "I am the Golux, the one and only Golux -- and not a mere device." My eight-year old loves the rhythm. My 11 year old loves the humor, and I love thurber's wink to me about literary devices...for us, this book is always at hand for the sheer joy of reading it aloud.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars On guard, you musty sofa!, September 22, 2003
This review is from: The Thirteen Clocks (Hardcover)
In summary form, "The Thirteen Clocks" will almost certainly come across as a clever but fairly conventional fairy tale, populated by amusing variants of the archetypal beautiful princess, wicked Duke, and poor-hero-who-isn't-what-he-seems. This is unfortunate, because while all of these characters are great fun, the real hero of this little book is the English language. Few authors are as skilled as Thurber when it comes to playing with words, and in "The Thirteen Clocks," verbal gems pop out of almost every page. Moreover, when it comes to making up new words for comedic or literary effect, only Lewis Carroll's "Jabberwocky" does it better - you'll not find "guggle" or "zatch" in an anatomy textbook, but in the context of the tale, their meaning is both perfectly clear and perfectly hilarious (also perfectly clean - this is definitely an all-ages book). I'd offer more examples, but that would deprive you of the joy of discovering them for yourself - and not even a Todal in full gleep could make me do that.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A true gem of a book!, October 17, 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: The 13 Clocks (Hardcover)
"The Thirteen Clocks" is book like a song or a tapestry, weaving bits of alliteration, near-poetic description, and humor-- all in the process of telling a darn good tale. The characters are each like separate jewels, ranging from the evil duke with one leg longer than the other due to kicking so many puppies when he was young, to the whimsical Gollux, a half-magical little man with an indescribable hat. Young-at-heart readers will appreciate the wonderful pictures of Marc Simont and the straight fairy-tale type story in which a wandering prince must rescue the princess from the designs of the evil duke, and other readers will appreciate the sheer craft with which the story was put together.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Timeless Perfection For Young And Old, June 6, 2006
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The Thirteen Clocks, by James Thurber, is a perfect book. The only way it could be better would be by being longer. The story is classic in its simplicity, so elemental that anyone can easily find a way inside. The big setting - a castle - the big players - a Prince, Princess, and wicked Duke (very wicked) - the big themes - courage, redemption, selfless sacrifice, and just a whiff of magic. Best of all, the big problem - time is frozen. Our enterprising Prince must do the impossible to win the hand of Princess Saralinda. This is road-tested material but Thurber breathes new life into it, making it fresh and irresistible. The musicality of his language is delightful, there is so much joy and play in the words, they giggle and dance like water gliding over stones in a stream. His rogue's gallery of secondary characters is just too good; each is slightly more improbable and splendidly cracked than the last. Most of all, this story ends exactly as it should, the resolution is not forced, it's simply correct. The Thirteen Clocks is a slice of heaven that can be enjoyed by anyone able to read. Thurber, it turns out, really was as good as he claimed. This lasting jewel proves it.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Whimsical, March 9, 2002
This review is from: The 13 Clocks (Hardcover)
This is a cute, very short fantasy book full of a weird mix of prose and poetry. The back of my old paperback proclaims "Everyone has always wanted to love a princess/Everyone has always wanted to be a prince/Everyone has always wanted the wicked duke to be punished/Everyone has always wanted to live happily ever after." While I've never wanted to love a princess or be a prince, I am always entranced by the characters.
It follows a mysterious young man who wishes to marry the beautiful Princess Saralinda. But Saralinda is kept in a castle without time, by a sinister Duke who claims to be her uncle. The young man (whom we find is a prince himself, Zorn of Zorna) is given an impossible task, and his only ally is the bizarre Golux, "the only Golux in the world, and not a mere Device." Together they venture through a shadowy world of jewel-weeping women, things without heads, and mediocre witches...
The storyline and plotting are straightforward, without detours or side-quests. Characters go from point A to point B without wandering off to do things. Zorn and Saralinda are a fairly ordinary prince and princess, and the Duke rolls and revels in his sheer badness; it's the Golux who really makes this tale. The son of a mediocre witch and an alcoholic wizard, he is quirky and sometimes gets things wrong.
The prose is sprinkled through with poetry, as often a sentence will fall into rhyme, without benefit of stanzas. Thurber's description of things is casual: he doesn't dwell forever on weird things, but treats them as part of the experience.
This is a wonderful book, well worth the hunt it will take to find it.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars We all have flaws... except this book., August 20, 2001
By 
This review is from: The Thirteen Clocks (Hardcover)
I first heard this enchantingly wonderful book on cassette tape when i was at art lessons. I would wait impatiently till the next week so I could hear more~ more about the Golux (who resembles only half the things he says he doesn't) and about Princess Saralinda and the Prince whose name begins with X... and doesn't. This book is full of whimsical wonderful wordplay and contains almost all of my favorite quotations of all time. It isn't very long, but every sentence is filled with some little quips or verbal oddities that, quite literally, made me laugh aloud. This book is without question one of my favorites of all time, a truly wonderful tale that can be read over and over again without ever growing old. Really classique. I mean, the book that's given me my tagline HAS to be great: "We all have flaws and mine is being evil."
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Children & Adults will enjoy!, June 4, 2003
This is one of the few books that both children & adults can enjoy. Other reviews have gone into more detail on what this book is about, but for me, the key point is this: too many kids' books are uninteresting to adults, and vice versa, but this is one that you will enjoy reading to your child or having your child read to you!
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The 13 Clocks
The 13 Clocks by James Thurber (Hardcover - July 29, 2008)
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