Thursday, November 04, 2010

The Princess Bride by William Goldman

Once upon a time came a story so full of high adventure and true love that it became an instant classic and won the hearts of millions. Now in hardcover in America for the first time since 1973 (in its native Florin it has been on the Florinese Times bestseller list continuously since the week it was published), this special edition of The Princess Bride is a true keepsake for devoted fans as well as those lucky enough to discover it for the first time.

Westley ... handsome farm boy who risks death and much, much worse for the woman he loves; Inigo ... the Spanish swordsman who lives only to avenge his father's death; Fezzik ... the Turk, the gentlest giant ever to have uprooted a tree with his bare hands; Vizzini ... the evil Sicilian, with a mind so keen he's foiled by his own perfect logic; Prince Humperdinck ... the evil ruler of Guilder who has an equally insatiable thirst for war and the beauteous Buttercup; Count Rugen ... the evilest man of all, who thrives on the excruciating pain of others; Miracle Max ... the King's ex-Miracle Man, who can raise the dead (kind of); The Dread Pirate Roberts ... supreme looter and plunderer of the high seas; and, of course, Buttercup .... the princess bride, the most perfect, beautiful woman in the history of the world.

S. Morgenstern's timeless tale - discovered and wonderfully abridged by William Goldman - pits country against country, good against evil, love against hate. From the Cliffs of Insanity through the Fire Swamp and down into the Zoo of Death, this incredible journey and brilliant tale is peppered with strange beasties both monstrous and gentle, and memorable surprises both terrible and sublime.

Last week was the final week in the Princess Bride Readalong, and we came to the end of the journey. The final section was the additional chapter, or rather the first chapter of the long lost sequel to The Princess Bride, Buttercup's Baby.

After the somewhat wishy-washy ending to The Princess Bride, it is interesting that Goldman wrote Buttercup's Baby, but I am not sure that it added a lot to the Princess Bride experience. We saw two main points of view - Fezzik and Inigo. I wasn't all that keen on Fezzik's, but I loved Inigo's story! Could have read a lot more about Inigo! The strange thing about this one chapter is that the time frame seemed somewhat fluid as well. The parts about Fezzik took place after the end of  The Princess Bride, but all of Inigo's story took place before the events of the main book.

Once again, the author continued to interject into the text. Sometimes those interjections were very amusing, but at others, they were just plain annoying and not funny at all. A big part of this chapter was talking about Goldman being allowed to write this chapter, because the Morgenstern estate preferred to have a prominent Florinese author, Stephen King, to do the abridgement rather than have Goldman do it. This was one section of interjection that I did enjoy, with Goldman writing about going to visit King to talk about the fact that he really wanted to do the abridgement. I thought it was very cool of Stephen King to be part of this. Apparently he still gets asked about this because there is an answer about it on his Frequently Asked Questions page on his website.

Sometimes the interjections served to challenge the reader to disbelieve what they are reading

For example, towards the end there was a mention about golf balls, and there was the following interruption.

(Me again, last time this chapter: no, that is not anachronistic either; there were golf balls in Scotland seven hundred years ago, and, not only that remember Inigo had studied with MacPherson the Scot. As a matter of fact, everything Morgenstern wrote is historically accurate; read any decent book on Florinese history.)

Talking about the book as a whole, I did enjoy the read, but there is a big BUT, I never connected with Buttercup at all! All we really learnt about her was that she was beautiful, and that's about it. It wasn't enough for this reader.

This isn't the first readalong that I have participated in, but it is the first one I have actually completed (go me!). Generally I wouldn't spread a book this size over a period of five weeks, and so I sometimes found it difficult to either put the book down at the end of each section, and then to pick it back up again.

In the end, I though The Princess Bride was fun, but I think I need to now watch the movie to see exactly why this story is so beloved by so many people I know!

I am planning to watch the movie shortly and will hopefully post about it when I do.

Click on the following link to see my previous posts about The Princess Bride readalong

Rating 4/5


  1. Wahoo! I'm glad you joined and finished the Readalong too! I hope you like the movie. It's a lot of fun.

  2. I'm afraid I didn't finish the book this time. I read it years ago, but now have to admit that it didn't speak to me as much this time.

    That being said I love the film and could watch it over and over again.

  3. I watched the movie as a child, loved it, and then read the book and found it hilarious. I haven't re-read it since then though. I do remember loving the interjections. :P

  4. I really need to reread this one, and watch the movie again. We shared the movie with our kids for the first time a few months ago, and they had a blast with it.

  5. I hope you enjoy the movie! I loved hearing the perspective of someone who hadn't seen it.