William Goldman’s modern fantasy classic is a simple, exceptional story about quests—for riches, revenge, power, and, of course, true love—that’s thrilling and timeless.
Anyone who lived through the 1980s may find it impossible—inconceivable, even—to equate The Princess Bride with anything other than the sweet, celluloid romance of Westley and Buttercup, but the film is only a fraction of the ingenious storytelling you’ll find in these pages. Rich in character and satire, the novel is set in 1941 and framed cleverly as an “abridged” retelling of a centuries-old tale set in the fabled country of Florin that’s home to “Beasts of all natures and descriptions. Pain. Death. Brave men. Coward men. Strongest men. Chases. Escapes. Lies. Truths. Passions.”
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About the Book!
I loved this, and not just because I’m a fan of the movie. Apparently, this is an abridged version of the original story, which was written by a fellow called Morgenstern.
Just as in the movie of the same name, this is a story within a story. The author was the kid who’s sick at home being read the good parts. Unlike in the movie, in real life, the author was being read it by his dad, not his grandpa. I loved this insight, and for once, I would recommend reading both of the forewords and all of the italicized author sections throughout, at least the first time.
I thought Goldman made a good point about why this story stuck with him as a kid. He said hearing this story was the first time he came to understand life isn’t fair. If you’ve seen the movie, I bet you can recall which part struck that note with him. If you haven’t seen it, I’d recommend seeing it.
This is one of those stories where the book doesn’t spoil the movie and the movie doesn’t spoil the book. The two are the same adventure. Line by line (except maybe for that one line describing the kiss being at the beginning of the book, but the end of the movie), the two track together. The great thing about the book though, is that it explains the stuff that’s skipped over, making some of the quirkier and inexplicable things from the movie suddenly make sense.
Goldman (abridger/author) says this version is all the good parts, and he ultimately leaves those good parts alone and inserts in their place short summaries of all the not so good parts and why he didn’t leave them be. The not so good parts are heavily satirical and rather lengthy departures from the core adventure and romance that make up the movie. As an example, one of the excised sections was nearly 80 pages of packing up for a trip, making the trip, packing up for the return trip, and making the return trip, all highly itemized and detailed. I appreciated the summary, and very much appreciated the satirical humor, while not having to slog through that 80 pages to get the joke.
As for the bit where the author goes on and on about Buttercup’s Baby, the sequel to The Princess Bride, well, I haven’t seen it out, and despite there being the first chapter of Goldman’s abridgement in the end, apparently the Morgenstern family has the rest pegged to be done by Stephen King. I’m on the fence about it, either way. Even when it does come out, I’m not sure I’d want to read it. I quite like how The Princess Bride ends and prefer to think of it as a happily ever after, and let me tell you, the first chapter being called Fezzik Dies doesn’t quite instill in me the desire to read on.
I loved this abridged copy of The Princess Bride, both for the high adventure itself as well as for Goldman’s asides and commentaries. I’d recommend this to folks who loved the movie or who just like a good adventure with a heavy dose of true love and humor.