Review: The Princess Bride by William Goldman

The Princess Bride: An Illustrated Edition of S. Morgenstern's Classic Tale of True Love and High AdventureThe Princess Bride: An Illustrated Edition of S. Morgenstern’s Classic Tale of True Love and High Adventure by William Goldman
My rating: 2.5 of 5 stars

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 henchman, 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.

The Princess Bride is like those stories that has a great plot but not much substance when it comes to characters. Look, if you want a swashbuckling adventure, it is pretty great. But the characters in the Princess Bride are pretty one-dimensional, starting with Buttercup (who comes across as vapid as her name) – a young girl whose biggest quality is, wait for it, her beauty! I mean, even the love interest, Westley can only comment on how beautiful she is and how much he loves her despite all her ill treatment of him when they were younger.

But I am getting ahead of myself – my primary grievance with this novel was the format. It is written like an abridgement of an history book which is oddly titled The Princess Bride, and the author here, William Goldman, is in the story (or a foreword version of the story) as a person who is explaining to us how he came about to abridging this book with only the ‘good parts’ to make it more interesting for reading. Maybe it is unique in that aspect but what actually happens is first it takes some 70-odd ages to actually get to the actual Princess Bride story, and by that time I was pretty bored with his long-winded explanation of who he knew and what he did (it is all fictional, or most of it) to get around to writing this book. It is a bookception and a poorly done one, as my primary thought during all that prefacing was – IDGAF.

Set in the fictional kingdom of Florin, even with the ‘good parts’ this novel mostly relies on the high fantasy version of horror-movie jump scares, by which I mean it just pulls in characters in and out to get the plot moving. There is a comic and dry humor lean to it, and if you have watched the movie, the iconic lines will have you going ‘OMG’ but if I had read this before, I probably would have chucked it out my window in frustration (kidding, I was reading a digital copy which would make it difficult to do so). The characters – well, is it not ironic that despite it being named ‘The Princess Bride’, Buttercup is the most inactive character in the book? Like, she probably does only one or two things of substance, and most of the novel is just her being kidnapped and rescued in alternation. The male characters Westley, Fezzik and Inigo Montoya get backstories but it does not mean much to the plot besides giving them a reason to band together.

Basically what I am saying is that the story is fun, but it is a parody sort of fun – you enjoy it because it references something else but otherwise it is hollow.

P.S. The illustrations are cool, though!

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