P is for: Review: The Princess Bride – William Goldman

DSC02391I shall start this off by saying that I have never seen the film of The Princess Bride – I know it’s a bit of a cult classic but it was never a part of my childhood or anything so I’ve never seen it. So with that in mind I was going into reading The Princess Bride with no knowledge whatsoever about what the story was about – besides what was on the blurb of course.

The Princess Bride is a story full of sword fights, mind games, love and mystery. That’s probably the best I can describe it really without getting myself tied in knots over the various characters and their motivations – because for a fair few of them, they go from being a bad guy to a good one (and sometimes even back again)

One thing that made The Princess Bride a bit different was the fact that the author, William Goldman, was telling the story as if it was an abridged version of another person’s book. In fact, the complete title is The Princess Bride S. Morgenstern’s Classic Tale of True Love and High Adventure. The “Good Parts” version abridged by William Goldman. So with that in mind there was a whole introduction of how Goldman got the rights to edit Morgenstern’s work and there was an “explanation” at the end about how Goldman was going to get sued by Morgenstern’s estate. I found these parts needlessly confusing – I actually looked up The Princess Bride on Wikipedia to figure out if there really was another book or if it was all apart of the story – and uninteresting. I wanted to read a story about adventures and interesting characters – not about the politics of publishers and lawyers. Also Goldman would interrupt the telling of the actual story every now and then which I found jarring, sometimes it worked but others I really didn’t care and skimmed over his interruption.

That being said, the actual story of The Princess Bride I really enjoyed. It was funny and quirky and exciting. You never knew quite what was going to happen next as laws of death and physics never really applied. My favourite characters were Inigo Montoya and Fezzik. I liked Inigo’s backstory and I found him smart, funny and interesting. Fezzik was the epitome of a gentle giant, he just wants someone to guide him and he finds Inigo to do that – their friendship was probably my favourite thing about the book. Though the confrontation between the Man in Black and Inigo, Vizzini and Fezzik is a close second.

Overall I enjoyed The Princess Bride but the confusion over whose story it actually was did put a dampener on things. I’m definitely going to watch the film as a friend said the interruptions from Goldman work better in film than they do in the book.

I give The Princess Bride 3/5

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5 comments

  1. You have to appreciate framed stories to appreciate Goldman and his fast-talking satire. The frame story (Goldman abridging Morgenstern) is not “needlessly” confusing; it is an additional, optional layer for us to appreciate. For example, Goldman interrupts Morgenstern’s story to complain the protagonists don’t have a worthy reunion scene, yet his publisher won’t allow him to edit one in. Instead, the reader can send money to Goldman’s publisher/fanclub to recieve the scene by mail. Since Goldman’s remarks are all in parenthesis, you can skip them if desired. But why miss out on a good joke?

  2. I think the reason I didn’t like it was because I was so thrown by it. The Princes Bride was the first (and so far only) book I’ve read that is a framed story. Sometimes the added asides about the world of publishing was interesting but the framed story as a whole wasn’t for me.

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