Author: William Goldman
Pages: 400 (paperback)
Published: October 20th 1999 (first published 1973)
Published by: Bloomsbury
Beautiful, flaxen-haired Buttercup has fallen for Westley, the farm boy, and when he departs to make his fortune she vows never to love another. When she hears that his ship has been captured by the Dread Pirate Roberts - who never leaves survivors - her heart is broken. But her chars draw the attention of the relentless Prince Humperdinck who wants a wife and will go to any lengths to have Buttercup. So stars a fairy tale like no other, of fencing, fighting, torture, poison, true love, hate, revenge, giants, hunters, bad men, good men, beautifulest ladies, snakes, spiders, beasts, chases, escapes, lies, truths, passion and miracles.
"Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die."
Buttercup is the most beautiful woman in the world, but when the love of her life, Westley, is captured by the Dread Pirate Roberts - who never leaves any survivors - she despairs and vows to never love again. She agrees to marry Prince Humperdinck with the understanding that she doesn't love him and never will. Many crazy things ensue when she is kidnapped by the cleverest person in the world with the aid of his henchmen: the world's most gifted swordsman and the world's strongest man.
I was a little confused going into this book. The full 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 I was a little confused. Because obviously the story wasn't real, so why was it pretending to be an abridgement of a historical book that didn't even exist? But I went with it, and ended up very much enjoying it. "Morgenstern's" parts were very funny, particularly at the start of the book, and the little asides that Goldman adds explaining things or giving brief descriptions of the 'excisions' he has made were often very entertaining as well. Plus there's a Zoo of Death. This name amused me greatly, and probably more than it should have done.
The characters are pretty much all wonderful. Buttercup is rather ditzy and a little over-dramatic, but it fits with the whole tone of a book where everything is a little over the top. Unfortunately, she doesn't have a whole lot of depth past loving Westley, enjoying riding horses and being very very pretty. Some of the other characters provided a little more depth and allow you to get to know - and care about them - more. Vizzini, Fezzik and Inigo Montoya (Buttercup's kidnappers) are all great characters, and hearing about Fezzik's and Inigo's histories were wonderful. You can't help but feel sorry for them, and how they've ended up where they have. Inigo's story I thought was particularly good, and he's probably my favourite character from the book.
When it comes to the story it is your typical adventure story, though there are a nice couple of twists in there that I for one didn't see coming. Once it gets going and all the set-up introductory stuff is done with, which doesn't take too long thanks to the 'abridgements', the story goes along at a nice rate, and there isn't ever very long where something isn't happening. The whole everything is very creative, and the torture machine that is devised is quite ingenious, though really quite unpleasant when you think about it. Which, I suppose, is the entire point of a torture machine, so job well done there!
I didn't have any particular problem with this book that jumps out at me and thoroughly enjoyed it, but there was just that spark of something missing that stopped me from falling in love with it. Still, a book I'd definitely recommend with wonderful characters that will stay with you.
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