A witty and elegant subversion of the fantasy genre.
It astonishes me that some of the reviewers below never figured out that the book of which this one purports to be an abridgment /doesn't exist./ There never was an S Morgenstern, nor were there kingdoms of Florin and Guilder (the names of medieval coins, not countries.)
/The Princess Bride/ is a novel about the relationship between a sick boy and his grandfather. The grandfather emigrated to America as an adult. During the boy's confinement, the grandfather reads him their fictitious ancestral country's national novel, cutting and reworking as he goes to transform it into a straightforward adventure story the boy will enjoy. The problem of teaching a child born in America to identify with his national heritage is a difficult one; after all, people from the old country smell funny, eat weird things, talk with accents, and don't know anything about baseball. I imagine that Goldman himself comes from an immigrant family. In that light, this book is in part his response as an adult to his memories growing up, and it is warm and engaging.
But Goldman manages not to let this turn into treacle by combining it with an adventure story so good that they made a movie out of it. The scenes with Fred Savage in the movie are not extraneous, they're vital to the book's unique quality: naive self-consciousness. It's a book that's basically about someone reading a book (take that, postmodernism,) but it uses the metatextual conceit to add to the story by giving it a deeper social significance rather than to detract from it by making it the object of games with meaning. We accept both the realistic world of a boy coming to terms with his family and heritage, and the fantastic world of ROUSes, Holocaust Cloaks, and Humperdinck's life-suctioning machine.
You can read this book simply for the adventure story, which is what many people appear to have done, but in my opinion, there's a better novel written around the adventure story than in it. Whichever you prefer, I suppose.