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on June 23, 2004
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.
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on December 22, 2003
This is an excellent book, as long as you don't go into it wanting a conventional fantasy novel. At some points during the reading, you will realize that Goldman did not write the book intending for it to be a pure fantasy, but perhaps more of a satire of reality. His entire point in writing it was to show readers that they are in the real world. The characters and happenings are so far fetched because Goldman wants us to realize that life isn't a fantasy.
If you've seen the movie, read the book to get more out of the story. If you haven't seen the movie, read the book and then see it. If you've already read the book, why are you looking at reader reviews?--I mean--buy the movie.
Oh yeah... there are plenty of reviews here saying that this book is so horrible because Goldman cut hundreds of pages out of S. Morgenstern's original Princess Bride. Do not pay any attention to these reviews... these people have been misinformed. S. Morgenstern was a fictional writer invented by Goldman. He is just a character in Goldman's story. This story is not abridged, as it may seem(The 'Good Parts' Version). It is just a tale that Goldman made up, or maybe his father made it up, or maybe his father's father... the point is, the tale was never WRITTEN anywhere else until Goldman came along, so you are not missing anything in reading THIS version. Please do not go and try to find S. Morgenstern's original... that would be an impossibility, as well as a waste of time.
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on June 27, 1997
And I'm taking this book with me when I go! I was a huge fan of the movie for years, before I came across the novel, and now my favorite film is far and away my favorite book as well.

(Unfortunately, I gave my blue copy to a guy that turned out to be a real jerk...but that's a different story all together...)

This fairy-tale is the perfect blend of romance, farce, adventure, fantasy, humor and character development. Indescribably wondermous.

I beg you in the name of all sacred books, *PLEASE* get yourself a copy of this book! Read it to yourself, read it to your significant other, read it to your children, read it to shut-ins, read it to strangers on the street! It doesn't matter...just read it! Share the joy that *is* the Princess Bride. Share the joy of Westley and Buttercup and Inigo and Fezzik and Vizzini and Prince Humperdink and Count Rugen and the Fire Swamp and Miracle Max and Valerie and the white horses and the Pit of Despair...

This is what people mean when they talk about wonderful stories. And after all, what girl isn't looking for her Farm Boy to simply answer "As you wish."?
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on August 2, 2008
The Princess Bride was released in '74, way back when I was 14 years old. My father tossed it to me after he had finished it and told me I would like it. I liked it so much I was one of the many (suckers) who sent away for the reunion scene between Westley and Buttercup that Goldman offered on page 153 of the paperback. Heck, I was 14, I wanted more of the story, and if all it was going to cost me was a stamp....
I'm 48 years old now, and I still read this book every once in a while; it never gets old. Sometimes I find myself skipping ahead a little, then I remember Fezziks logic "fool, fool, back to the beginning is the rule."
No matter the genre of books you prefer, be it horror, mystery, sci-fi, and no matter your age, you must, MUST read this book. It has been in my top 10 since I was 14. My 8 year old son wants to read it which I think is fantastic, because he'll have 6 years on my first reading it.
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on May 31, 2016
I looked out over the edge, down down down, and across the great Florin Channel. And, as I did, I wondered at the pure physical strength it would have taken to scale this rocky precipice, as one man with nothing but a rope, but also as a giant with three passengers strapped to his back. It happened though, as history is quick to point out, improbable though it might seem. I looked back at my two friends. I posed and made a funny face as the writer took my picture. Gerhard rolled his eyes and made a face back at me, snarky, but only in jest. Show some respect, that look seemed to say; these are the Cliffs of Insanity after all!

This is my review of The Princess Bride; the book; not the original, mind you, but William Goldman’s abridged version of S. Morgenstern’s Classic Tale of True Love and High Adventure:

The way Gerhard always referred to The Princess Bride; the movie, you would have thought that it was a religion to him. He referenced it the way some people quote the Bible. It was amusing, but also annoying. I pointed it out to him one time, after a few drinks.

“Inconceivable!” he replied, mimicking Wallace Shawn as Vizzini; the Sicilian.

“You keep using that word,” I replied, as serious as I could be. Summoning my inner Inigo, I continued, “I do not think it means what you think it means.” My demeanor cracked then, and we both laughed. I admit, I am nearly as much a fan as he. I remember faking sick as a child, so that I could stay home from school and repeatedly watch the movie on VHS (this was after the invention of the television, but before DVD), over and over again, until I could recite, verbatim, the final confrontation between the Spaniard and the six-fingered man (“Hello,” I crooned, “My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.”).

And so it went, and when it was suggested that the three of us – the writer, Gerhard, and I – take a trip to Florin (or modern day Germany, if you prefer), for the re-opening of the Zoo of Death, I was an easy sell.

{This was back in 2009. At the time Gerhard was working as a Prep Cook. The economy was good. He had some savings in the bank, and it was not hard at all for him to get the time off work, even on short notice. As for myself; as of yet, I was not even a figment of his imagination, so it was not a problem for me either – same went for the writer.}

Gerhard pulled up an old map online and, excitedly, we traced Westley’s journey and compared it to the trek that we were planning for ourselves. We compared it to a modern map that the writer had purchased and marveled, both at how much had changed over the centuries, but also at how much had remained; been preserved, from Morgenstern’s time. We booked our entire trip using Expedia, marveling at how simple the internet had made everything. We took advantage of a last minute sale, and prepared to leave the following Thursday.

{It is worth noting that, although I had seen the movie, The Princess Bride, so many times that I could recite much of it by heart, I had not yet read the book. I was well aware of the positive reviews it had received, when it had first been published (in Florenese, of course), as well as in ’73 when Goldman produced his abridged version. That being said, given my love of the film version, I worried that the book wouldn’t live up to my expectations. It surprised me though, to learn that neither of my would-be travel mates had read it either; Morgenstern Virgins, one and all.}

Exhausted, we arrived around noon, two weeks later, in Florin City. Although we had been in Europe for four days already (We had landed at Luxemburg Fidel Airport, after a three hour layover in Paris), we were still jet lagged – As busy as we’d been, we just hadn’t been able to give our bodies the chance to catch up. We had come in through, by chartered bus, what would have been Guilder (but was now the mostly unacknowledged no-man’s land that bordered Germany, France, and Luxemburg), beginning at Fezzik’s Cave, stopping briefly at what was left of The Fire Swamp, but was now nothing but a tacky tourist trap (At the diner we ate at, we were greeted at the door by a scruffy, barely pubescent boy, dressed “Inconceivably” in a rubber rat suit. Undeniable, he was the least frightening R.O.U.S. imaginable). The food was good, but the ambiance left much to be desired. After visiting the souvenir shop, we considered, though not seriously, staying at a Bed and Breakfast there called, “The Buttercup”, but chose instead to press on, as planned, to The Cliffs of Insanity, which were even more sharp and imposing than I had anticipated, not realizing that the film had substituted The Cliffs of Moher; probably to save money.

“There is a shortage of perfect breasts in this world,” Gerhard laughed, and playfully jabbed my, more-prominent-than-I would-like, man-boobs, as we made our way back to the bus that evening. “It would be a pity to damage yours.”

“Eff off,” I replied, only mildly put out; half-laughing. I knew that I had put on a bit too much weight recently but, as of yet, I wasn’t too concerned. It had been a long day though, and, as acrophobic as I am, I was not looking forward to the next day’s adventures. The writer laughed then, as though reading my thoughts. “Both of you!” I added, repeating, “Eff off!” (This time with an Exclamation Point!) - glaring, meaningfully in his direction.

We stayed the night in Guilder (or Luxemburg, if you prefer), at a hostel down the road. We had a beautiful view of the plains that lead off towards the town that still bore the name, Guilder, from our bedroom window. The ruins of the original castle were illuminated by the crescent moon that hung awkwardly in the sky. We paid our dues – “Good night. Sleep well. I’ll most likely kill you in the morning.” And also: “Rest well, and dream of large women (both sayings of which I later discovered, much to my disappointment, either did not exist in the book, or were severely altered for the movie)” - and turned in.

We had already prepaid and booked transportation for the next day. We were to be lowered by gondola, down down down, to be delivered to the pirate themed ship (The Revenge Cruise) that would take us to our final destination.

That first day in Florin City, we visited Morgenstern’s Ancestral Home, The Thieves Quarters, the castle proper, and the re-creation of Miracle Max’s Hut (which had burnt down in 1889, only to be rebuilt 100 years later at the request of Andre the Giant, who financed the whole operation). For day two, we were saving The Morgenstern Museum and The Zoo of Death (or the Pit of Despair, as it was renamed in the movie, neatly eviscerating the first four levels of the zoo, leaving Prince Humperdinck as a shadow of the man he was in life). It was a good day for touring; both days. The weather was nice; cool, but not damp, as is often the case, unless it is raining or too hot – so we were lucky, I suppose. We were in good spirits, all of us, and, whenever Gerhard or I suggested we do something, the writer simply replied, “As you wish.” Only he said it more like, “Aaaaaasss… Yoooooouuuuuu… Wiiiiiiiiiiiiiish…”

We were having a marvelous time.

On our last day in Florin City, we visited Buttercup’s Farm, which had been preserved as a ‘Site of Interest’ by the Germans (who, luckily for us, seem to preserve everything), and a fee was charged. We all agreed that the price was rather steep, but we had come this far and every guest received a free (Special Edition!) copy of Goldman’s abridged version of The Princess Bride, which was bound in leather and embossed with the Florenese flag, with the words “HAVE FUN STORMING THE CASTLE!” printed beneath it in gold lettering.

{I remember how, as the bus drove us out of the city, I committed the landscape to memory; the rolling hills, the ancient trees, the quaint homes and their even quainter occupants, with all of their rural European quirks; everything. I made a few notes in a pad of paper that I kept with me, knowing, if not consciously, that I would eventually write it all down, if only to share the journey with a loved one, perhaps in the form of a letter or an e-mail (this was after e-mail, but before phones were also computers), never imagining how long it would actually take me to ‘put pen to paper’.

{Seven years later, I find myself drawing on those memories (and notes!), as if they happened only yesterday. I am reading The Princess Bride, again, for what must be the sixth or seventh time; halfway through – I will probably finish the last 200 pages this evening. It was my Mother who encouraged me to share my adventures, if not directly. She mentioned my writing, as of late, and how it came across as overly dark – and she was worried about me. Of course, I admitted, I am in a very dark place; I still do not have a full-time job, and life is expensive - Still, even if I weren’t ‘in a very dark place’, what else could one expect from a Blog titled ‘Very Unhealthy’ (VeryUnhealthy.weebly.com)? It is intended to be a schizophrenic social commentary, which it is, and I told her so.}

{My Mother though, didn’t see my point. And so it was for her that I went back in time, beginning at The Cliffs of Insanity, which happened to be the highlight of our trip; for me, at least. Even though I was afraid, I looked down! And so it is that I am postponing June’s originally intended post: A Brief Look at Suicide and Euthanasia, in favor of something lighter. And so this piece of writing is for her. She is not a witch, she is my Mother. And I do so hope that she likes it. There is nothing that I have written that has given me as much pleasure.}

I read my Special Edition of The Princess Bride, for the first time, on the flight back home, while the writer and Gerhard chatted, drank wine, watched movies, and finally slept. In some ways, the book was disappointing, as I knew in advance: The Man in Black was Westley all along! So the mystery was gone and the surprises were spoilt. And of course, in my imagination the Channel of Guilder would always be infested with shrieking eels, regardless of Morgenstern’s (and reality’s) sharks. And yet, I read it, with great joy, compulsively; unable to put it down. In the end, the book was completed before we were even two thirds of the way across the ocean. It left me wanting more (Here’s to hoping that Goldman finishes his abridgment of the sequel, Buttercup’s Baby, sometime this century!) and so I flipped it over and began again, from the beginning. It is just thank kind of book!
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on April 18, 2016
Okay so....The Princess Bride movie was my all time favorite movie as a child. So this is why I picked up the book to read in the first place.

I could picture and hear the cast of the movie as I read which in this case was actually a good thing.

This is my one and only time that I found a movie way better then a book.

I enjoyed the book a lot, but ONLY the actual story. And I decided against reading the Buttercups baby portion, and I wasn't fussy of the William Goldman stuff that he inserted here and there and in fact skipped and skimmed over a good portion of his writings in the beginning of the book so I could start right in where the story (from the movie) actually starts. I find that Goldman rambles way to much in the book taking away from the actual Princess Bride story.

I think the book would have been better written as an actual story instead of Goldman adding all the inserts and stuff. I understand what he was doing but was not my style of writing.

BUT with that being said, I picked up the book for the Princes Bride story so I just skipped the Goldman abridged parts and all was well in the world again.
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on November 26, 2014
Let me explain this book to you!

The Princess Bride novel formed the basis for the film of the same name. The book is very tongue-in-cheek as it pretends to be an “abridged” version of a fictional longer version by a totally made up author called “S. Morgentern.” The real author is William Goldman, who is also a screenwriter. He served as screenwriter for the Princess Bride film. The fairy tale in the book/film is a humorous adventure/love story about Buttercup and Westly in the fictional land of Florin.

The film starts with a grandfather reading “S. Morgenstern’s The Princess Bride” to his grandson. In the film, the fairy tale is punctuated by moments between the grandfather and grandson as they talk about Buttercup’s story. William Goldman’s novel is different. Instead of a grandfather/grandson set-up, Goldman has 2 Introductions and 1 epilogue (as well as many interjections in the middle of the fairy tale) whereby he describes his “life” (all made up) with his psychiatrist wife and son. In real life, Goldman has 2 daughters. There is also lots of made up stuff about fighting with Morgenstern’s estate. None of this is true, it’s just there for fun.

So now that you understand the set-up, here’s my review of the book, in a few points:

1) Buttercup’s story is similar in the film and book, but there is more backstory for the characters and some elements that are not included in the film (e.g., Prince Humperdink has a “Death Zoo” in the book but not in the film). These additions are fun, and if you liked the film you’ll probably find this to be an enjoyable read. There is also an epilogue/chapter on Buttercup's Baby but I'm sad to say I didn't enjoy this part as much.

2) The book was written in the 1970s from a male perspective. The only major female character is Buttercup and she’s extremely beautiful and not that smart. Women are judged on their beauty in the book, and men are judged on other merits (with the exception of a wife of a Miracle Man). If this bothers you, skip the book and film. I understand the book/film as products of their time, and it’s funny enough that I could appreciate it regardless. But I did notice the difference between this and more modern fairy tale stories.

3) The two introductions, epilogue, and moments of interjection about Goldman’s (fictional) life and backstories were not so interesting to me. They are meant to be funny, and some people may enjoy those parts, but I just wanted to get back to the awesome fairy tale. Luckily, the fairy tale is most of the book. I think these interjections are, in part, a literary device to make us impatient for the fairy tale, and in this way they’re successful!

4) The book is not expensive, and it’s a good value.

In sum, it’s fun and silly and has lots of original characters. I read it while I was sick (just like Fred Savage in the film) and it was perfect for a light read. I’d rate it high for entertainment value.
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on May 17, 2014
My Thoughts:

1. I loved the movie as a kid and reading the book brings back so much nostalgia and childhood memories :)

2. Goldman's writing style makes this such an entertaining read. I like how he added his input and thoughts in between scenes which does well in connecting the readers to the author. There were multiple times where Goldman had me wondering if everything he wrote was fictional which required some googling to confirm. He totally had me fooled in some parts.

3. It's killing me to know that I can't read the reunion scene and yet Goldman keeps teasing about it in the book. Gahh...

4. I LOVE LOVE LOVE all the characters! Especially Fezzik, he's such a sweet and gentle giant :D One of my favourite scenes had to be Buttercup's confession, oh man that had my LOLing so hard.

5. An epilogue titled "Buttercup's Baby" was included in my edition of the book. To be honest, it wasn't the best epilogue written (I just skimmed through it) but it was nice to see a little more into their futures.

6. The book was exactly as I remember the movie to be. There were some scenes in the book I wished they could have adapted into the movie.
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on December 8, 2012
I had already seen the movie before I read the book. In order to fully appreciate the movie, you've got to read this quirky, comical, and unique book.

The book is brilliant. It's light-hearted, adventurous, and absolutely ridiculous. The humour is clever and somewhat subtle - most of it is contained in one-liners and short conversations. The story blends a medieval setting with modern elements superbly, such as people wearing jeans and having hair-stylists, all the while maintaining the illusion that you're in another time. The scrapes that the characters are continually finding themselves in are sheer genius.

The story can fool you easily. All I will say is that there was never any such person as Morgenstern. There was never an "original" Princess Bride, just this one. The forward and the "abridgements" are complete and utter lies, but it adds to the oddity of this wonderful book.

Read it. I guarantee you'll love it. It has something for everyone. "Fencing. Fighting. Torture. Poison. True love. Hate. Revenge. Giants. Hunters. Bad men. Good men. Beautiful-est ladies. Snakes. Spiders. Beasts of all natures and descriptions. Pain. Death. Brave men. Coward men. Strongest men. Chases. Escapes. Lies. Truths. Passion. Miracles."
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on August 30, 2005
I loved the movie (1987) so when I saw the book in my favourite used bookstore, I thought I'd pick it up to see how it compared. For that person who doesn't know "The Princess Bride", the plot centres around the kidnapping of the most beautiful woman in the world by her fiancé so he can start a war with the neighbouring country. That kind of makes it sound like an intriguing drama but it's actually a romantic comedy. So, now you know.
I was very surprised at how well the movie followed the book. I suppose that is the result of Goldman's history as a screen writer ("Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid"). Of course, he also wrote the screenplay for "The Princess Bride". The book, however, has much more of the S. Morgenstern background story. According to Goldman, the book was actually a history of the country of Gilder written by S. Morgenstern read to him as a child by his father.
This is a great book for young readers as well as older, cynical readers. The humour is both obvious and subtle at times. The wit is variously sarcastic, satirical and ascerbic. The S. Morgenstern device is creative and adds an another dimension to the story that makes a good book better, as well as sucks the younger reader into Goldman's constructed reality.
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