Sword fights. Giants. Revenge. Rodents of Unusual Size (R.O.U.S). Princesses of great beauty. Princes of great evil. Pirates. Riddles. “The Princess Bride” by William Goldman is the grandest and funniest adventure you’ll ever embark upon.
The book begins with Goldman explaining how his dad read him “The Princess Bride” when he was young, and as an adult, he seeks it out only to discover that his dad skipped over pages and pages of boring history, description and explanations just to give him the “good parts,” which are the meat – the drama, the magic, fights to the death, the course of true love.
So as an adult, Goldman decides to abridge it. Now, everyone can enjoy the book in its purest form as he did, without all the boring bits. Throughout the book, he puts his abridging remarks inside the story, amusing comments on the characters, their lives or his construction of the book from its original.
Don’t be fooled by his great sense of humor though – this is all just a part of the book, a story within a story and a large part of the fun.
The tale within the tale begins in the land of Florin with a stunningly beautiful girl, Buttercup, 17, who lives on a farm with her parents and the farm boy, Westley. Buttercup falls in love with Westley, only to discover he loves her as well.
Upon knowing his love is reciprocated, Westley goes off to seek his fortune; but his ship is taken by pirates, he is presumed dead and Buttercup is heartbroken.
Soon after, Prince Humperdinck, in his search for a wife, sweeps Buttercup off to his castle. Despite her promise to never love him, she is to be his bride.
Resigned to her fate, Buttercup finds solace in her solitary rides. One day, Princess Buttercup comes upon three men: Vizzini the Sicilian, who has a slight hunch to his back but the quickest mind you’ll ever challenge; the Spaniard Inigo Montoya, slender and quick with a sword at his side and a thirst for revenge against a unknown six-fingered man who murdered his father; and Turkish giant Fezzik, who loves rhymes.
The kidnapped Buttercup awakens on a boat heading toward the Cliffs of Insanity, where she soon learns the men have been paid to leave her dead body to start a war between Florin and its neighbor Guilder.
As they arrive at the Cliffs of Insanity, the trio and Buttercup realize they are not alone. They are being pursued by a man in black, and though it seems inconceivable, he catches up and challenges them all one by one to get what he truly wants – Buttercup.
This is really only the beginning. Like any great adventure, there is so much more to come – fire swamps, killer rodents, battles of wits and battles to the death. There may even be a miracle or two.
Goldman keeps us enthralled and chuckling throughout his book, which in case you’re wondering, yes, is better than the movie. (But actually, the movie didn’t do too bad a job. It’s one of my favorite books-into-films.)
Over the years, I’ve read “The Princess Bride” again and again, whenever sickness has me bedridden or I need a good laugh. It is one of the most enjoyable books you’ll ever pick up.
And if you don’t read it to find out whether Buttercup lives, whether Inigo gets his revenge or whether the Prince is vanquished, then you can always read it for the rhymes. That Fezzik is quite talented.