The Princess Bride

Before I start talking about the book I have a quick announcement to make that will also make this post fall into the ‘Blog News’ category.  After beginning my blog on March 11th of this past year and keeping a steady reading pace going throughout the rest of the year, this post will by my 100th book review for my blog.  100 books is a lot to read in a single year, and that is just counting the books that I’ve read since I started my blog in March.  I’m going to say a quick thank you for everyone who follows my blog and has commented on my posts, you’re a large part of the reason that I’ve kept this up.  It’s been great reading what you’ve said about my reviews and I’ve been introduced to quite a few great books both from comments on my blog and from looking through many other blogs for book suggestions.  It’s been fun keeping my blog and I hope you stick around for the next 100 book reviews (as well as the rest of my semi-coherent ramblings that I offer from time to time).

Now that that’s out of the way, we can move along to the rest of the review and my thoughts about this book.  The Princess Bride is one of my favorite movies ever, it’s one of the best movies ever made, and having seen the movie so many times, reading the book was a really unique and interesting experience.  Goldman even sets it up to be a more interesting story than it actually was.  He tells a very believable story about how the book was originally written by S. Morgenstern.  In writing this novel he created a backstory for how it became an ‘abridged’ novel which allowed him to include some interesting thoughts throughout the course of the book.

In the opening section of the book, Goldman talks about how his ‘abridged’ version came about.  When he was 10 years old he was recovering from pneumonia and his father read him this book (yes, exactly like the grandfather reading it in the movie).  Years later, when his son turned 10 he found a copy of the book and gave it to him.  His son tried to read the novel, and stopped after the first chapter.  Goldman didn’t understand why until he actually picked up the book (which he never had until after his son put it down).  The original book is much longer and contains large sections of essentially info-dumping and irrelevant scenes that never impact the overall story.  When his father read him the story as a child, he cut out these parts to make a more coherent story.

Book Stats

358 pages

Fantasy

Stand Alone

Characters

The two main characters are Westley and Buttercup.  Buttercup is the child of two farmers and Westley is the farm boy who helps at their farm.  Buttercup begins the story as a somewhat spoiled child who is very rude to Westley, never referring to him as anything other than farm boy and ordering him around all the time.  Westley takes all of her ordering and never replies by saying anything other than “As you wish.”  Eventually they realize that they are in love.  Westley is a very intelligent and hardworking young man who is always trying to better himself.  Buttercup is a beautiful young woman who will also do anything she can to better herself for Westley.  They aren’t terribly original as characters, but they don’t have to be for this story to work.  They are very well written and very consistent, which works out very well for this story.  Most of the diversity of the characters come from the side characters, specifically Inigo Montoya and Fezzik.  Inigo is one of the greatest swordsmen in the world who is trying to avenge the death of his father.  Fezzik is a fairly simple minded giant who works alongside Vizzini with Inigo.

Setting

The book is set in Florin, a fictional country somewhere in Europe.

Plot

The book begins with Westley and Buttercup living on Buttercup’s family farm.  Shortly after they realize they are in love with each other, Westley goes off to earn his fortune.  Unfortunately, his ship is attacked by pirates and he is killed.  Several years later, Buttercup is to be wed to Prince Humperdinck.  Shortly before the wedding, she is kidnapped by Vizzini, Inigo, and Fezzik, who plan to kill her in the country of Guilder in order to start a war between the countries of Guilder and Florin.  Unfortunately for them, they are followed by a man in black who is out to capture the princess for his own reasons.

Enjoyment

Maybe I’m just a bit of a sucker, but I really liked and really believed the story that Goldman wrote about how he published the ‘abridged’ version of the book.  It was really fun and added another wonderful layer to what is already a fun story.  As I was writing this post I did a quick check on wikipedia for the review and that’s where I discovered that the story behind the story wasn’t true.  I’m actually a little upset with that, in part because I was gullible enough to believe it but mostly because it was a really cool backstory for the book.  But the truth is that writing the book this way allowed Goldman to do some interesting literary things that he couldn’t have done in any other fashion.

The exact story of The Princess Bride is very close to the movie, with very little extra added (just some very small background information).  Many of the best lines from the movie are also in the book, and it’s absolutely wonderful to read after having seen the movie as many times as I have (and I think I’m going to watch it again after I post this).

Overall Grade

If you like the movie (and how can you not, it’s one of the best movies ever made) you’ll like the book.  If you somehow haven’t seen the movie, it’s still a very well written book that does a lot of interesting things.

9/10

Advertisements
Leave a comment

12 Comments

  1. Thanks for the review, Adam. I’ve seen and enjoyed the movie quite a few times but never read the book. I can see how you would be disappointed that the backstory is not literal truth, since you believed it when you were younger, though increasingly I find that literal fact is only one facet of “true.” As when Tolkien said that when writing “Lord of the Rings,” he didn’t feel he was creating fiction so much as seeing in his mind’s eye events that had actually happened and writing them down. A great book is often like peering through such a window.

    Reply
    • I’d never read the book before this time. The way it was set up in the book, I thought that it was very seriously the truth. Looking back at it afterwards there were several signs that it was intended as a joke, but it was well enough written that I really didn’t think about it as I was reading the book.

      Unless it’s one of your favorite authors and you’ve read a lot of their books, you probably don’t know a lot about the author’s life. Since I had no reason to believe otherwise, I actually thought it was his real life story. Any time you’re reading a work of fiction you have to think that it’s real, and that’s something I do all the time with all the genre fiction that I read.

      There are so many works of literature that you can never read all of them or even know about all of them. For all I knew this was actually an abridged work exactly as Goldman described it. He did a fantastic job of creating a very believable backstory and he did just as well with talking about the parts that he ‘cut out’ from the original story. During one chapter he describes a section that he cut from the book, and he described how it was very boring since it only described how the unpacking of clothing was supposed to show how Guilder was superior to Florin because of the clothing. The way he describes the book as originally being a historical novel of sorts makes it very plausible that those sorts of things would actually be included.

      Literal fact is in many ways one of the smallest aspects of truth. In the effect that it has on a person, stories such as LotR or The Princess Bride are more important than most of the actual history of the world. I know this is true of myself and I’m sure it’s true of many other people as well.

      Reply
  2. hannahrose42

     /  December 21, 2011

    I love, love, love this movie. I’ve wanted to get a hand on the book for quite a while, and hearing your praise… I just may have to do that sometime. The books I’ve been reading recently have been rather disappointing and I need a good pick-me-up book. Perhaps I’ll head over to the library tomorrow.

    100 books… wow! I think I’ve read somewhere around 60 this year, and I’m hoping to have much more time next year due to the increase of free time. I’m looking forward to your next hundred!

    Reply
    • I consider The Shawshank Redemption to be the greatest movie ever made, and a lot of people agree with me in that statement. One of the few people who disagreed with me on that point was my Greek Lit teacher who said that this movie was the greatest eer made. Her argument was that The Princess Bride is one of the few movies that you can watch with anyone from the age of 5 to 105 and they’ll find something to enjoy in the movie. I still think that Shawshank is better, but this movie is probably easily #2 on my list.

      Reply
      • hannahrose42

         /  December 24, 2011

        I can see that. Shawshank Redemption is definitely near the top of my list. Princess Bride is great, but it’s no Shawshank.

  3. I read this book about 6 years ago and loved it. I definitely need to read it again.
    And I definitely need to watch the movie again.

    Reply
    • After I read the book yesterday I watched the movie twice, once with the commentary by Rob Reiner and once with the commentary by William Goldman, it really is a wonderful movie.

      Reply
  4. I really love The Princess Bride as well – both the book and the movie. The author is an alma mater of my (small) college, and we’re really proud of that, I think we all share his sense of humour. I’m not sure if your edition of the book has the teaser for the “next” book (“Buttercup’s Baby”), I really wish he would actually write it, I would love to see where Wesley and Buttercup’s tru wuv goes. I think he meant the sequel as a joke, but has made references to wanting to write it someday.

    Reply
    • My version has the chapter teaser for Buttercup’s Baby, but I haven’t read that part yet, I stopped at the end of the original ending. It would be interesting to see a sequel to the book, but at the same time I don’t really know if I’d want there to be a sequel, I love where the story ends and I think it would be very hard to not ruin it by having a second book.

      Reply
  5. I can’t believe that I still haven’t read this book. I need to pick up a copy. Congrats on the 100 books…that is a lot. Looking forward to the next 100!

    Reply
  6. beckyday6

     /  December 21, 2011

    :O I didn’t realise there was a book!

    Reply
  1. NPR’s Top 100 Teen Novels « Reviews and Ramblings

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: