The King of the Golden River tells the tale of the Black brothers: the kind-natured eleven- year-old Gluck and his two nasty older brothers, Hans and Schwartz. For Gluck, play is cleaning the floors, and his education consists of a wholesome quantity of punches. One stormy evening, Gluck is left at home to prepare his older brothers’ dinner when an extraordinary-looking little man knocks at the door. Having been warned not to let anyone in, Gluck watches as the little old man stands drenched and shivering at the door. His soft heart tells him to ignore his brothers’ advice, and so Gluck’s encounter with the mysterious King of the Golden River begins. Appearing at first as a beggar, then the Southwest Wind, and finally as a dwarf, the King of the Golden River issues Gluck a challenge: to climb to the source of the Golden River and throw into the stream three drops of holy water. If he can achieve this, the river will turn to gold.
Ruskin’s Victorian tale—first published in 1842—of good’s triumph over evil is a gripping adventure for all ages, and is brought vividly to life in new, never-before- seen illustrations by the celebrated Quentin Blake.