Written By: William Goldman
Published By: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich
Link to Purchase (Amazon)
Let’s be real: we’ve all seen The Princess Bride movie. It’s one of the best films of all time in every way! It holds up to this day, and it will for years to come! But many people watch the movie and call it a day. Not a lot of people have read the book behind this classic tale.
Lucky I’m here then, isn’t it?
The Princess Bride is a wonderful piece of classic fantasy literature. It is as compelling to read as it is to watch. If you haven’t read it already, and you love the movie, then you need to make time for it!
Allow me to explain why.
Plot: you’ve seen the movie
In terms of the story, there really isn’t anything different from the book and the movie. The film is an incredibly faithful adaptation. They even found a creative way to integrate Goldman’s footnotes!
Buttercup was your typical beauty living on a farm. She often abused the farmhand Westly, who subtly tells her that he loves her every day. Eventually, she realizes this and falls in love with him herself. Westly then leaves to seek a fortune so they can marry, but he’s allegedly murdered at sea by the Dread Pirate Roberts.
Later, Buttercup agrees to marry Prince Humperdink, whom she has no romantic feelings for. Shortly after their engagement is made public, she’s kidnapped by Vizzini, Inigo Montoya, and Fezzik, a trio of outlaws. Luckily, she’s saved by a mysterious man in black, who reveals himself to be none other than Westly!
Now, the two must each deal with their own obstacles, from Spanish fencers to royalty, in order to be together. It’s a classic tale, one that needs little explanation. Again: if you’re reading this, you’ve almost certainly seen the film.
Sprinkled throughout the novel are footnotes from William Goldman. He explains that his father used to read S. Morgenstern’s version of The Princess Bride to him when he was a kid, so it became his favorite despite never reading the text itself. When he gives the book to his son, he discovers that his own father had been cutting down on the bitter political satire in order to make it a fantasy adventure. Thus, Goldman set out to create an abridged version to capture the magic his father had given him.
Sound familiar? It should! Because this is the whole basis for the premise of the film: a grandfather reading his grandson a story!
While these footnotes do take you out of the story immediately, they do offer some interesting insight into the original work. Goldman will explain what he cut out and why he cut it out, and how he edited the scenes that are still there to be more compelling in an adventure format. While I don’t like having the flow of the story disrupted, they are intriguing to read.
Voice: Classic Fantasy, Abridged Edition
Even while shortening and modernizing the story, Goldman still captured the feel of classic fantasy literature. Each line of dialogue is witty, practically poetic, much like they are in the film. The world and characters are described as if an old town crier were regaling you with the tale!
Only this one is about a thousand times more descriptive.
This story is very slowly paced. Goldman goes into great detail for both characters and settings. He will often take a break to explain the character’s backstory via a flashback chapter. For example, as the Man in Black is climbing the Dread Cliffs, we get a whole chapter dedicated to Inigo Montoya’s backstory.
This does break up the pacing a bit. But it does present a more interesting and engaging way of detailing a character to the audience than simply telling someone their backstory through dialogue. So, despite the pacing issue, it is a solid choice.
If I were to recommend someone a fantasy story, there are several that I’d go for. ‘The Lord of the Rings’, ‘The Hobbit’ (yes, they are separate things), ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’ (with a heavy ‘Adult Content’ warning), ‘The Last Unicorn’, and of course: ‘The Princess Bride’. Those to me are the strongest pieces of fantasy ever written. And among them, I’d likely recommend the ‘Princess Bride’… third, or maybe forth.
It depends on the person. Teenagers or people with weak stomachs get ‘The Princess Bride’. Adults and people who can handle a little dark shit get ‘Song of Ice and Fire’.
I’d highly recommend reading ‘The Princess Bride’. It is a fantastic piece of literature, and one of my favorite books of all time! If you love the movie, you need to read it! If you are a fan of fantasy, it is the perfect pick! If you love neither, why the hell are you reading this?
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go watch the movie another half a dozen times.