Customer Reviews: The Princess Bride: S Morgenstern's Classic Tale of True Love and High Adventure
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on June 10, 2001
I have loved this book for years (I think it may be my favorite) William Goldman is a talented author especially with dialogue. This is a wonderful spoof/homage to old fashioned swashbuckling romance.
I noticed that a lot of people believe this book is an abridged version of the "original" S. Morgenstern book. Actually, Morgenstern does not exist, just try looking him up on the library of congress. He was just made up as part of the joke. Think about it, isn't a bit ironic that Morgenstern and William Goldman write EXACTLY the same way. This is supposed to be abridged, not rewritten. Plus, if Morgenstern existed, then Florin must too. Actually, Florin and Guilder were coins, the names were just borrowed. You'll never find the countries in your history book.
This is the Spinal Tap thing, the joke is done with a totally straight face so that there are always people who aren't exactly sure if it's the real deal. That was the reason Rob Reiner was chosen to direct the movie version.
Read this book, enjoy it, it is one of the best you will ever experience. The diaglogue is unforgetable (every sylabub!)
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on July 27, 2000
"Wait a minute, wait a minute....Is this a kissing book?" Well, yes and'll just have to read it to find out for yourself.
William Goldman is a legend in the world of screenwriting, known for his clever, crisp dialogue and engrossing narrative, so why should his novels be any different?
Utterly charming, 'The Princess Bride' combines action, adventure, plenty of swordplay, and yes, some kissing....Those of you who only saw the movie (also writen by Goldman -- see my DVD review) are missing out on many of the delights of the book, notably on the developed backstory of the characters and the clean, wry prose.
Here's a bit of trivia: First, there is NO S. Morgenstern -- he is made up, fictitious, a red herring...accept it and move on. Second, Mr. Goldman will send you a lost section if you write to his address and request it (the one of mentions in the book)! When I first read that 10 years ago, I wrote to the company mentioned in the book and was delighted to receive my bonus section! (Hey, Mr Goldman if you are reading this, I lost my copy 3 years ago when I moved to LA! Could you please send me another one? ) :)
Cherish this book and keep it to share with your children.
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on February 28, 2002
The greatness of this book is truly, in the word's of Vizzini "INCONCEIVABLE!" What's this book about? Fencing, fighting, true love, strong hate, harsh revenge, a few giants, lots of bad men, lots of good men, pain, death, brave men, coward men, escapes, lies, truth, passion, miracles. It's hilarious, heart breaking, and terrifying all at the same time. If none of that sounds good to you, or if you've seen the movie and didn't like it, don't read the book. If you liked the movie, the book is twice as good!
Who's the genius behind this incredible book? The answer is simple, William Goldman (which is another whole story in its self). If you look at the book you'll read: "S. Morgenstern's Classic Tale of True Love and High Adventure. The "good parts version" abriged by William Goldman." In Goldman's introduction he explains how when he was a ten years old and was home sick with pneumonia, his father read him the book. (Sound farmiliar? If you're remembering the scene between the grandfather and the boy in the book you're right.) His father was a poor, English struggling immigrant from Florin, the setting of the Princess Bride. His father explains how Morgenstern was a great writer in his country and that there it is a very famous book. Goldman obviously loves the book.
As a man, Goldman decides to give the book to his son, Jason for his tenth birthday. After putting in an enormous amount of time and money to track down the book, to his shock the son hates it. In turn, he decides to re-read the book for himself. What he discovers is that his father didn't actually read him the whole book, he only read him the good parts. The book in fact was not even really focussing on the story he heard, it's actually all about the history of Florin. Goldman decides to abridge the book with only the "good parts."
Everything I have just told you is a lie and it will drive you crazy the whole book! William Goldman did not in fact "abridge" the book he wrote the book. He invents Florin, he invents Jason, he invents everything! Why such a brilliant writer would completely give all the credit to another writer who never existed I will never understand. The book is filled with clever and hilarious "abridgement notes" from Goldman. Not only are they funny to read, they keep you on top of things so you never are confused or find yourself searching back for explanations. If you don't like this sort of thing, don't worry they're written in a way that can be easily skipped.
You can read about all of the plot in any other review, but in a couple of sentences: Buttercup falls in love with the gorgeous Farm Boy. He goes off to America to seek their fortune. Buttercup learns that he dies. She is forced to marry the awful Prince even though she vows never to love again. Buttercup gets kidnapped... this is just the beginning! If I go any farther I'll give it away! If this sounds like a stupid fairy tale to you TRUST ME its not! Sure, it's about love, but in between revenge, poison, a man obsessed with human pain, death, duels, well I think you get the idea.
As if all of this isn't enough! There is something special about this addition you can't find anywhere else.
If you want to read a great story about true love, victory, defeat, pain and if you want a book that will make you laugh out loud, cry, or tremble with fear this is THE book. I truly think I can honestly say there is no other book like it. I would would put it against any of the great fantasty story writer, Tolkien, C.S. Lewis anyday! It goes ten times faster than any of the Lord of the Rings and is in my opinion just as exciting if not more. One tip, if you haven't watched the movie READ THE BOOK FIRST! It's got so many exciting turns and such an incredible ending, don't ruin it for yourself like I did.
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on January 3, 2002
Fencing. Fighting. Torture. Poison. True love. Hate. Revenge. Giants. Hunters. Bad men. Good men. Beautifulest ladies. Snakes. Spiders. Beasts of all natures and descriptions. Pain. Death. Brave men. Coward men. Strongest men. Chases. Escapes. Lies. Truths. Passion. Miracles. GREAT LITERATURE.
There's not a whole lot that's not in this novel. It succeeds at being maybe the funniest, most exciting, and satisfying stories yet written. Plus, the novel contains startling depth.
The writing of the novel is so superb. The prose is smooth and light. It is really conversational, and word-play abounds. The novel also (as the Amazon review pointed out) serves as a satire of adventure and fantasy novels of the past and comments on the differences between fantasy and reality. The structure of the novel (with the hilarious first chapter, the flashbacks, and the author-commentary) serves to frame those bits of insight Goldman is trying to get across. Consider the line "Life isn't fair, it's just fairer than death, that's all." There's a lot in those words, and throughout the story, Goldman hammers home real truths about the nature of pain, death, and grief. And yet paradoxically, out of those truths The Princess Bride emerges as a story to give its reader reaffirmation in the greatness of life.
As you may can tell, The Princess Bride is my favorite novel. I've read it numerous times, and each time I read it, the book is better. I know that everybody watches the movie, and yes, the movie is great. Even a masterpiece. But the novel goes far beyond that. Read it.
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on July 14, 1999
OK, I really liked this book. There's really nothing I can say that hasn't been mentioned already, but having scrolled through the one- and two-star reviews, I'd like to throw my 2 cents in:A) There IS NO original PRINCESS BRIDE. There is no "pre-Goldman" version. Goldman made the whole shebang up. B) Therefore, there is no S. Morgenstern. Did you think it was coincedence that their writing styles were exactly the same?C) There is no Florin & Guilder--that's what makes it a fantasy novel. Didn't you notice that the historical quips all contradicted each other?D) For those of you who were upset by the first 30 pages where Goldman rips his family--they too are made up. The author has no overweight son; I believe he has two daughters. He has a wife, but I assume (for Goldman's sake) that she isn't as bad as the novel suggests.Naysayers--read this novel for all its different levels...The fairy tale...And the larger theme of a Romantic coming to terms with a world where happy endings don't always happen.
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on February 20, 2001
This 1973 book is fast becoming a classic, and the movie version has done much to popularize it. Goldman takes the conventional tale of romantic adventure featuring a kidnapped princess who is rescued by a gallant knight. However, Goldman departs from the stereotypical mould of the romantic adventure by exaggerating the conventional roles to the point where the story evolves from a serious tale of adventure into a farcical spoof. It is not so much a contemporary version of the Sir Walter Scott type adventure as it is an exaggerated version. The delicious and distorted blend of the lofty and the mundane that Goldman serves up results in a comical buffoonery. After all, who ever heard of a princess called "Buttercup", a prince called "Humperdinck" and a hero (appropriately just a farm boy) called "Westley"? And who ever heard of countries that go by the names of currencies like "Florin" and "Guilder"? And who ever heard of pirates who retire?
Goldman heightens the farcical effect by writing under the guise of an editor who is merely abridging the supposed longer work by the early 20th century writer S. Morgenstern (an approach similar to that later used by Michael Crichton in "Eaters of the Dead"). Of course Morgenstern is entirely a figment of Goldman's imagination and a fictional creation, as is evident from the numerous contemporary jokes found throughout which clearly originate from Goldman, and not an older Morgenstern. This is in fact an ingenious literary device that successfully enables Goldman to get outside the story and give his own pithy commentary about the action. The fact that it has fooled some readers to unsuccessfully endeavour to discover more about the mysterious Morgenstern can only serve as a tribute to the effectiveness of this literary device!
The story itself features an evil villain (Humperdinck), a beautiful princess (Buttercup), and the humble hero (Westley). Westley needs to overcome the legendary Cliffs of Insanity and the dreaded Fire Swamp with its renowned R.O.U.S.s (Rodents of Unusual Size). In what appears to be a farcical version of the three musketeers, he must also master the hired hands of his adversary, the infamous "Sicilian Crowd", composed of the Turk Fezzik (a huge idiot whose contribution is his strength), the Spaniard Inigo (a tall athlete whose contribution is his sword), and the Sicilian Vizzini (a thin leader whose contribution is his brains). Just so you can picture this farcical trio accurately, imagine Fezzik as a bulk who started shaving in Grade 1, Inigo as a madman who has devoted only 72,000 hours to prepare for a single fencing battle with his father's murderer, and Vizzini as a criminal mastermind who defies anything that doesn't fit with his logic as "inconceivable."
Of course the mixture of strength, sword and brains doesn't faze our hero, and after he successfully overcomes the skill tests of strength, swordmanship, and brains, some of the Sicilian Crowd become his personal allies in the quest against Humperdinck. Ultimately, they are the ones who rescue him from death by forcing a resurrection pill (you haven't heard of those either, have you?) down his throat, and help him rescue Buttercup and ride off into the sunset with her on four white horses. But this isn't a typical adventure-romance, remember, so of course Goldman presents an alternative ending where there is no sunset, and the hapless hero is forever chased by the villains.
The movie version sticks very close to the book, and fans of the movie will especially enjoy this book. It is marred by a few instances of blasphemy, and the glorification of Inigo's obsession with revenge. But as a farce on the traditional romantic adventure, this book can be enjoyed by anyone with a sense of humor, and a vague awareness of the literary conventions that Goldman is mocking. As Goldman describes it: "Fencing. Fighting. Torture. Poison. True love. Hate. Revenge. Giants. Hunters. Bad men. Good men. Beautifulest ladies. Snakes. Spiders. Beasts of all natures and descriptions. Pain. Death. Brave men. Coward men. Strongest men. Chases. Escapes. Lies. Truths. Passion. Miracles." Take these ingredients, mix well with a grain of salt, a sense of humor, and a strong measure of exaggeration and farce, and you have "The Princess Bride." It's the recipe for success, and this book proves it.
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on June 3, 1998
I first read this book when I was fifteen. I've gone through four copies (mostly due to unreturned loans), and I've practically memorized it over the past fifteen years. The book has a great premise of being written by Morgenstern and read to the author as a child, and a wonderful message for anyone who wonders what happened to the fairy-tale endings they never found when they grew up.

Goldman's conversational style gives the book an intimacy. The reader really feels like they *know* him. I've read almost all of his other books, and this seems, to me, to be the most polished and sensitive. It's very subtle and charming, and then--wham!--a line like "Life isn't fair; it's just fairer than death, that's all." That's one of my all-time favourite quotes.

The movie did a good job of giving a cartoon-like, fun feeling to the story, but I thought the author's interjections and his cynical observations were quite moving, especially when contrasted with the happily-ever-after flavour of Westley & Buttercup's romance.

The movie caught the basic "good parts" storyline, but the book has more to offer. I recommend it for anyone who's wondering " this all there is??" Somehow, Goldman's book, The Princess Bride, makes you feel better about the answer.

(P.S. - I've got the "alternative reunion scene" if anyone wants to read it...)
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on September 9, 2001
This book was gifted to me by my girlfriend, and at first I was skeptical about it. I had not seen the movie, and being an avid science fiction reader and writer, the fairy tale concept seemed like a bit of a "girl thing". However, once I delved into its pages, I discovered I couldn't have been more wrong. This is a fantastic novel for everyone, people of all ages. The delightful charm of the story, the epic saga it unfolds to tell, and the spontaneous hilarity covers a plethora of genres; Which guarantees a fast-paced, exciting and truly amazing book that will satisy all-comers.
The Princess Bride tells the story of a common girl, who falls in love with an even commoner boy, but marries an exceptionally cruel Prince, without any choice. The boy, now grown into a dashing hero, comes to claim back his true love - but not without a vast adventure before him.
This 25th Anniversary Collectors Edition in hard back is the best version to buy, and saves it as a story that you will read to your children, and them to theirs, as Goldman describes himself doing in the introduction. A timeless classic, and one that will remain as one of the greatest tales for generations to come.
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on June 6, 2004
A lot of people have seen the film The Princess Bride and would know of the book from the film. The movie has for long possessed a cult-like status, being seen as funny, warm, irreverent and full of classic "love and adventure". All these things are true about the book, only more so. Like the film, the story follows the strife of the love between Westle and Buttercup, as Buttercup is set to marry the prince of Florin and all the circumstances in the world seem to be set against the true lovers from being reunited. The book has all the adventure elements of the movie such as the Cliffs of Insanity and the Rodents Of Unusual Size. It has more detail though and adds much more to the story, sepcially in the Zoo section of which the movie only took bits from as well as the backstories of the characters. The other major difference is that the wrapper story, instead of a grandfather reading to a sick grandson, is that the book is Goldman's abridgement of a classic Florinese work.
The Princess Bride can be looked at from some kind of post-modern tribute to adventure stories, full of deliberate and often humorous anachronisms. But I think it's so much more than that. It seems to be the only book I've read that's both a great member of a genre (the cloack and dagger, adventure-filled, swashbuckling romance) as well as a parody of the same genre. It's amazing how it's pulled off - on the one hand it's cynical about happy endings and the classic elements of adventure stories and sends them up in an amazingly funny way and yet reading it, you still feel a part of you yearning for those classic elements and finding them marvelously present in the book.
And of course, the characters are truly larger than life, from Inigo the Spanish swordsman who has dedicated his life to finding the man who killed his father to Fezzik, the slightly-slow-witted giant with a brand heart, sense of humour and love of rhymes.
Many readers in the reviews were annoyed by Goldman's whole wrapper of the book being written by Morgenstern as well as the 30 page intros and digressions into his fictional struggles to get the book published. An unbelievably high number of people fell for the whole thing and are currently hunting for the "unabridged" Princess Bride by Morgenstern! Personally, I enjoyed the digressions very much. I think without them it might have just ended up as a more conventional adventure story and not the cult classic it is. There's something about the whole appeal to an older/"greater" writer as well as some mockery of the world of publishing and manuscripts (and Morgenstern's digressions!) that adds to the cynical-yet-not-cynical nature of the book. I think the reason is that the book is a story and it's also about stories and storytelling and because it has so many layers, all of them warm and filled with Goldman's quirky visions, that everyone can get a lot out of it. So don't expect a regular, uninterrupted narrative!
Finally, this edition has Goldman's recent and brief return to the book, the first chapter of Buttercup's Baby (as Goldman was only allowed to do one chapter due to legal reasons, read the book!). In it, he picks up (sort of...) where the story left off and presents some fragmented visions of the characters from both past and present. I guess it's understandable that some fans wouldn't be happy as they might feel emotionally attached to the classic, which also feels like a complete-in-itself work. However, I read the whole thing for the first time (including Buttercup's Baby) over two days recently and it was actually quite good to get that little bit extra about the characters. I think if people saw the book as the classic but the supplement as quite a meaningful addition to our knowledge of the characters (especially Inigo) then it wouldn't seem so "sacriligeous".
This is the favourite book of many people and while it's not my absolute favourite, I think it's beyond superficial rank claims - just a really special novel.
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on May 29, 2002
One would have to have been born inside a desk drawer and lived their whole life on paper and pencil shavings to not have seen the classic movie, "The Princess Bride." However, very few of the people on this earth who don't live in desk drawers have read the classic book. And reading this book, even looking at the name on the front cover, clues you into the true genius of this fairy tale. What the move does not fully get across is that there is no actual "S. Morgenstern." (Sure, if you read the credits, you'll figure that out, but you know how many people read the credits? Look in a desk drawer.) Anyway, William Goldman, the true author has not only concocted the great story, but the author, the book, the father reading the book to the child, and even the child. In seamless cutaways, we go from the exciting details of Wesley's latest escape or Buttercup's stunning beauty to the Fred Savage-ish boy sitting in bed talking to his father.
And then, there is the story. The verbal cinematic masterpiece that sweeps across the hills of Florin and Guilder, that navigates the choppy sea, that climbs the precarious Cliffs of Insanity, that sinks into the flaming depths of the Fire Swamp, and rises to the highest turrets of Lotharon's Castle. You won't find better character development either; Goldman spends at least 30 pages on each main character, but somehow it never gets the slightest bit boring. Every page is both enrapturing and hilarious. (The childhood of Fezzik the Giant is especially amusing.) Goldman spins the tale perfectly as the father reading only the "good parts" to his son. The plot does far more than just plod, the climax is quite possibly the most climactic piece of writing I've read since the great Finnish climax of 1858, and the denouement is simply existential. You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll dance around the room with an umbrella and call it a sword, and in the end, you'll utter the famous line, "Man, the book IS better than the movie." But hey, in another famous line, William Goldman's in fact, "Life isn't fair, it's just fairer than death, that's all."
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