Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Review Wednesday - The Princess Bride

Author: William Goldman
Genre: Adult Fantasy
Published: 1973
Pages: 450
My Rating: ★★★★★

Synopsis: 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.

Normally, I wouldn't do a review on such an established book. I like to find more obscure titles to analyze, but as it happens, I didn't have time to read another book this week and, for the sake of trying to keep to a schedule, I'm posting this.

Goldman's story is outrageously bizarre and funny. Throughout it, I chuckled my ass off. The entire story is just so light-hearted and amusing. It's very different than the books I usually read (which have a lot of violence and, you know, death).

At first, I was a bit confused. Was there an actual S. Morgenstern? Did he indeed write the novel that William Goldman abridged? So I googled it just to be sure and, of course, there wasn't any such person. I really liked how Goldman created the pseudonym to add another layer to his novel. It's an incredibly unique and creative narrative device. I had once wanted to write a fairy tale that is similar, I realize now, to his style. I scrapped the idea years ago, deciding to go with a more serious approach to the story. I don't think I'm funny enough--or at all--to get away with something like that anyway.

Surprisingly, there were quite a few negative reviews for the novel. A lot of people gave the book one star. Their reasons:

  • It was childish. -- I'm not sure what book they were reading, but this one certainly wasn't childish. 
  • They enjoyed the movie way more. -- When I read it, I was basically picturing the movie. Goldman also wrote the screenplay for the movie, and he didn't change very much. Even the dialogue is exactly the same in parts. 
  • Goldman's commentary interruptions throughout the story were pointless.-- I fully enjoyed these parts. I liked getting inside the writer's head.
  • The author is an arrogant, pig-headed sexist. -- I'm not going to lie, he sometimes comes off as that. But I tended to find those parts more amusing than offensive.
  • It was boring. -- Inconceivable.

A few things that did bother me: 

  • Having bought the 30th anniversary edition, there are two introductions to the story. One for the 30th, the other for the 25th. I read neither. I don't like introductions or forewords. They are useless, a waste of paper, and I will never write one for one of my own novels. Ever.
  • It gets a little slow when the author writes from his perspective, specifically at the beginning and at the end. It's like, could we please just get on with the story? I need to read about Westley! 
  • Buttercup is absolutely useless throughout the entire novel. She doesn't fight, doesn't try to save herself. She is annoyingly idiotic. I kinda wish her pretty little face had got eaten off by a R.O.U.S in the Fire Swamp. 
  • Buttercup gives birth. I hate birthing scenes. So gross.
I was hesitant to read the book because I love the movie. I was afraid it would be vastly different. It was a pleasant surprise to find it was nearly identical. If you love the movie, you'll love the book (unless, you're a stupidhead). And how could you not love the movie? It has this sexy beast in it:

"To the pain!"

Overall, it was a fabulous read and I loved it. A well deserved five stars! Bravo!

Have you read the book/seen the movie?

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