Author: William Goldman
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing
Date: October 1999
A tale of true love and high adventure, pirates, princesses, giants, miracles, fencing, and a frightening assortment of wild beasts — The Princess Bride is a modern storytelling classic.
As Florin and Guilder teeter on the verge of war, the reluctant Princess Buttercup is devastated by the loss of her true love, kidnapped by a mercenary and his henchmen, rescued by a pirate, forced to marry Prince Humperdinck, and rescued once again by the very crew who absconded with her in the first place. In the course of this dazzling adventure, she’ll meet Vizzini — the criminal philosopher who’ll do anything for a bag of gold; Fezzik — the gentle giant; Inigo — the Spaniard whose steel thirsts for revenge; and Count Rugen — the evil mastermind behind it all. Foiling all their plans and jumping into their stories is Westley, Princess Buttercup’s one true love and a very good friend of a very dangerous pirate.
I always say that I’m not going to see a movie until I read the book, but this one was definitely a classic and one that I was recommended and pulled in to see by a lot of my friends. To be honest, I didn’t even realise the source material was a book.
I have to say that unlike most book-to-movie adaptations, this one was remarkably close to the source material. I guess I should have expected it because the writer, William Goldman is a screenwriter by trade and he also did the script for the movie. And the movie isn’t a classic by chance. It’s a tale of love and adventure, humour and fantasy. It has sword fights and giants and princesses and poison. It’s has machine that actually sucks the life out of its victims. It also has one of the best movie catchphrases of all time. I did and always will love this story.
What I do have to say about the book in particular is the way the author starts telling the actual story. He’s writing as a caricature of himself whose favourite story as a child was The Princess Bride by S. Morgenstern, from the fictional country of Florin. He finally tracks down a copy to give to his own son to discover that his father only read him the ‘good bits’, leaving out the tedious history and customs that made the book three times as long and three times as dull. He decides to write an abridged version and have that published instead, which is the story we all know and love.
I think this plot device is bizzare, but it works. I absolutely love the little inserts. The story flows very much like someone is telling you it, which goes against the ‘show don’t tell’ mantra that most good books have. It feels the author himself is actually reading you this story in bed, with all the dialogue he adds himself, the quirks and the even how it ends. I have to say that I enjoyed it a lot and it left me smiling long after I put it down.