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Literature / The Princess on the Glass Hill

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But how did she ever get up?

The Princess On The Glass Hill is a Norwegian Fairy Tale collected by Peter Christen Asbjørnsen and Jorgen Moe. Andrew Lang included it in The Blue Fairy Book.

A farm had a field that would have been good for hay except that every St. John's night, all the grass was eaten. For two years, the farmer's oldest two sons stayed up on that night to guard the field, but they were frightened off by an earthquake. The youngest (Boots or Cinderlad, depending on the version), waited through three earthquakes, and found the grass was eaten by a splendid horse, and by it was a brass suit of shining armor. He threw steel over the horse, which gave him power over it, so he rode it away to somewhere secret and told his brothers that nothing had happened to him. The next year, he did it again, though the armor was silver, and the next, when the suit was gold.

The king had his daughter sit on a glass mountain, and whoever could climb it and get the golden apples out of her lap would marry her. All the men who came to try it slipped and slid about, but a knight in a suit of brass armor rode up a third of the way, and then rode back. The princess threw him one of the apples to encourage him, but he still rode off. The next day it happened again, except that a knight in silver armor rode two-thirds of the way up the hill, and the princess liked him better than the other. The third day, a knight in gold armor rode all the way up and took the apple, but rode off again immediately after.

When the king summoned all the nobles and knights, and none of them had the golden apples, he summoned everyone in the kingdom. No one had the apples, and the king demanded whether everyone had come. The older brothers admitted that their brother had not, and so he was fetched, produced the apples, and married the princess.

Full text here, here, here and here. To read Andrew Lang's version, go here.


  • Blatant Lies: Neither of Boots' brothers believe him when he says he did not see or hear anything unusual while watching the meadow.
  • Bringing Back Proof: Boots succeeds in the king's Engagement Challenge of riding up the glass hill to retrieve the golden apples — but then chooses to disappear rather than immediately claim the princess' hand. It's only later, when he's fetched from home, that he admits he has the apples, and thus is able to marry the princess.
  • Cain and Abel: Downplayed. Boots' brothers are constantly mocking him, but Boots couldn't care less for their bullying.
  • Cool Horse: Boots finds and tames three beautiful, large horses which are able to ride up the glass hill.
  • Engagement Challenge: The king will only give his daughter to the man who is able to ride up over the hill of glass.
  • Knight in Shining Armor: Boots wears three different sets of armor while riding up the hill.
  • Love at First Sight: The princess falls in love with the armor-clad knight who manages to ride up the hill.
  • Rags to Royalty: Boots, the son of a farmer, marries the king's daughter.
  • Rule of Three: Three brothers, three horses and sets of armor, three golden apples, three days of the test.
  • Spear Counterpart: To "Cinderella". The protagonist's two older siblings mock them for lying in the cinders and prevent them from attending a royal gathering to determine who will marry the king's child, the protagonist completes unrewarded labor, and gains a magical disguise to obtain the favor of the beautiful heir, the king declares a search of the land to discover who holds his heir's favor. Also, in the Lang version, Boots is named Cinderlad.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: After ordering Boots to watch the meadow, his father disappears from the history.
  • White Stallion: In many of the variants, one of the horses the humble hero rides to the Glass Mountain is described as white, or of a silver colour.
  • Youngest Child Wins: The youngest brother gets married to the princess.