books / reviews

The Princess Bride by William Goldman, a review.

Last book club, it was my turn to pick a book and I felt like such a grown up. Well, okay, we don’t actually have a designated person picking a book for every month, it’s more a free for all of splurting out different options to chose from and to go from there, and I was actually kind of nervous to propose my idea. What if my fellow bookclub cohorts thought it was stupid, dumb and judged me for it? Because of this fear, I blerted out something safe, something fun, something that had been on my to-read list for quite some time, something that everyone knew—well, the film version at least—a little something called The Princess Bride by William Goldman.

Buying it, I was thoroughly stoked to go on the adventure I knew the ins-and-outs of since I was a child. I was so ready to read the text version exploits of the motley cast composed of cuddly (and unbeknownst to child me, drunk) Fezzik, the ever sorta stubborn Buttercup, the rude Prince with the very fun name to say (Humperdinck, Humperdinck, Humperdinck! If you say it three times in front of a mirror in your bathroom, I’m sure you’d be transported to the magical castle filled with cheap costumes and sword fights…or something), the Spaniard with the chip on his shoulder, and the dashingly handsome Westley (even if I always liked Robin Hood better).

He’s alright with that.

Hell, despite various articles on the internet saying that this was a rare case of “movie better than the book,” I still had a lot of enthusiasm.

I wasn’t disappointed. Everything that I had wanted from the novel, it handed to me in spades. This book was so, so fun.

The similarity to the movie is striking, with much of the dialogue in the film actually coming from the book itself (hardly a surprise, Goldman was the author of the script. I know that when I use a joke that I think is hilarious, I use it until people start catching on, so I can’t blame him for being human), but the novel has lot more depth of character, which, you know, is also not a shock. It’s still appreciated though, and getting more background information makes the reader appreciate the characters more—Buttercup being the exception, because it turns out she’s about as dimensional as a Taylor Swift song. Bossy Buttercup notwithstanding, finding out more about the kingdom, its warring ways, the people within the kingdom, their warring ways, and the witty way in which Goldman writes, is an utter joy.

Oh, also, Prince Humperdinck has something called the Zoo of Death, basically a dungeon beneath the castle where every floor is filled with some kind of hunting game, ranging in deadliness, and if there if you have no other reason for reading this book, let it be for that, because it’s something called the fucking Zoo of Death and it’s badass as hell. If I’m ever a billionaire, you all know what I’m naming my estate.

Pictured: prospective deadly/dangerous/dastardly animals for my Zoo of Death.

On a scale of 1-5, I’d say this book is somewhere between a 4 and a 5. The story was hilarious, the pages flew by and the story was exciting, but I have to dock it for the actual commentary by William Goldman, because at some parts, I just was not feeling it. It was usually when Goldman lost his carefree air, when he almost read too much into his own words. When he poked fun at himself, at his fictional memories, it was engaging and charming—when he let pessimism and snark overwhelm the fun of the adventure he was telling, it turned a bit dry. I get that he was using it as a platform for commentary, but that could have been done without bashing the reader over the head with a blunt object—anyone with basic observation skills would have understood that he was mocking fairytale conventions without him being such a dick about it. Oh well, though, no book is without its flaws.

Besides, all faults aside, I re-learned the values of smack talk in a shade of absurd eloquence, such as this beautiful construction of oh snap:

The beef-witted featherbrained rattleskulled clodpated dim-domed noodle-noggined sapheaded lunk-knobbed boy.

Teach me your way of insults, Mr. Goldman. Please.

On an ending note, the BF has a blog now and all of you should go read it, because he’s great, funny, etc.

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2 thoughts on “The Princess Bride by William Goldman, a review.

  1. Agreed entirely. The book was a lot of fun, and it kind of helped my appreciation of the movie… kind of like seeing an extended cut, knowing where they got the fireproof cape and the zoo of death scenes.
    Also, it was pretty dang cool to read how he originally did the “MY NAME IS INIGO MONTOYA” lines.

  2. Pingback: The Princess Bride by William Goldman | Tales of the Marvelous

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