It comes to this: I was in need of a light read after spending one and a half month preparing for IELTS. I don’t know exactly why I chose this book—maybe because I suddenly remember my history with The Princess Bride. I first bought The Princess Bride on impulse. The truth is I don’t like fantasy books all that much, and I also didn’t really like the cover, so I sold it to Mbak Dewi (it was a copy with this cover, anyway). Some years later, while casually browsing a pile of used books in a bookshop, I found another copy of The Princess Bride. Having watched the film and seeing that the book has a vintage-looking cover, I decided to buy it. Ha! This time I didn’t regret buying it because in addition to the eyecatching cover, it also has a map. It would make a splendid addition to my collection!
Now, moving on to the story. I will list the characters first.
Buttercup, a Florinese village girl of unmatched beauty.
Westley, an orphaned farm boy who worked (or slaved) for Buttercup’s father.
Prince Humperdinck, a scheming and power-hungry prince who loved hunting above all else.
Count Rugen, Humperdinck’s sidekick and confidant who was obsessed with pain.
Vizzini the brainy Sicilian.
Inigo Montoya the sword-wielding Spaniard.
Fezzik the Turkish giant.
All the Farm Boy ever said to Buttercup was, “As you wish.” Of course what he meant was “I love you” but it took Buttercup some time before she realises this. Not until a visit from Count and Countess Rugen when she saw the Countess seemingly took a fancy of Westley. But just after them realising their true feelings for one another, Westley sailed off to America to seek his fortune, in order to become a man worthy of Buttercup. Buttercup waited and waited, but news came one day that Westley’s ship had been attacked by the Dread Pirate Roberts and he never takes prisoners, which means Westley was dead. Heartbroken, Buttercup accepted marriage proposal from Prince Humperdinck (confused? Hang on a bit) with “I can never love him” in mind. Well, it means death if she said no. So began the preparations of the royal wedding, including months of making the village girl into a princess. One day while riding her horse, a weird trio consisted of Vizzini, Inigo, and Fezzik kidnapped her. But the trio’s plan (or more accurately, Vizzini’s plan, since he was the head of the trio) was threatened by the man in black, who followed them as they were sailing to the neighbouring country of Guilder, up the Cliffs of Insanity to the ravines that led to the Fire Swamp. (I’m going to leave it at this moment, there are so much adventures thereafter, but I don’t want to ruin your fun by spoiling them all.) 😉
This book is the abriged version of S. Morgenstern’s The Princess Bride, the “good parts” version by William Goldman. (SEE UPDATE AT THE END OF THE POST) I don’t think that this book belongs to the fantasy genre, let alone a fairy tale, even though my copy says “a hot fairy tale”. I think it’s an adventure book with bits of fantastical elements. My copy of The Princess Bride starts with a 29-page introduction, rather too long for my taste. I was tempted to skip it altogether but later realized that it was somewhat necessary to read, that is if you want to know the background on the abridgement of S. Morgenstern’s work by William Goldman. Goldman’s “commentaries” are also scattered all over the book, but mostly they are short so it wouldn’t be a burden to read these additional paragraphs typed in fancy italic. As someone who’s seen the film first then read the book, I must say that I think both are equally entertaining. The film adapted the book very well, from Westley’s wittiness (performed gorgeously by Cary Elwes) to the memorable lines of Inigo (“Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.”)
and of Vizzini (“Inconceivable!”).
Inigo and Fezzik making rhymes is also my favourite part of both the book and the film. Miracle Max and his wife Valerie were hilarious. The one character I like the least is the princess bride herself, in both the book and the film. However, the book can give you much more interesting scenes that didn’t make it to the film. For example Fezzik and Inigo’s adventure when they went through all five levels of Prince Humperdinck’s Zoo of Death to retrieve Westley was thoroughly explained in the book, while in the film it was reduced to short scenes in the Pit of Despair. The writing feels modern, so it easily falls into the “light reading” category. Of course you need to ignore some stuff if you want to enjoy the book, for example Buttercup accepting Humperdinck, the torture scenes, and how a lump of clay coated in chocolate could bring someone back from the dead. All in all, this is a delightful read. You should read it then watch the film. Or vice versa, I don’t really care. Just read it and watch it, in whatever order you’d like. 🙂
P.S. : I know this review is crap but it doesn’t make the book any less entertaining.
Here is the movie trailer:
The Princess Bride, by William Goldman
283 pages, published 1987 by Turtleback Books/Del Rey Books
My rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
UPDATE (15 Mar 2016):
I have just found out that S. Morgenstern is not a real author, thanks to Fingerprinttale and Chiipurai who kindly informed me of this. Explanation on Wikipedia: Simon Morgenstern is both a pseudonym and a narrative device invented by Goldman to add another layer to his novel The Princess Bride. He presents his novel as an abridged version of a work by the fictional Morgenstern, an author from the equally fictional country of Florin. The name may be a reference to Johann Carl Simon Morgenstern, who coined the term Bildungsroman. (Read the rest on Wikipedia).