Tuesday, 24 March 2015

The Princess Bride - William Goldman

Before you read any further, please note that this review may contain spoilers.

As one of my favourite movies, I figured it was time I also read The Princess Bride.

The book opens with "This is my favourite book in all the world, though I have never read it" a great hook line, but one with absolutely zero truth.  Much like the movie, Goldman explains that his love of reading began when he was bed ridden and delusional with pneumonia at the age of 10. His father, a Florinese native whose English was poor, sat down and began to read A classic tale of True Love and High Adventure starting with the words "Chatper One: The Bride."

35 pages later, and the fictional introduction is finally over... So many times I very nearly stopped reading the book, or at least wanted to skip those pages. I don't feel it, or the little inserts of interruption throughout the story, added to the story at all.  I think I would have enjoyed the story more without them.

The fact that I knew the story fairly well did not take away from the excitement of the book. In fact being able to visualise the characters and the settings along with the anticipation of knowing what was happening next added to my enjoyment.

I enjoyed the little comic listings of the most beautiful women in the world (and later of the five kisses), and reading Buttercup climb her way up the list as she aged. Westley, always answering all her demands with 'As you wish'.  It was not until Countess Rugen, who along with her husband and a large entourage, showed an interest in Westley that Buttercup realised her affections for him.  That was when Westley decided it was time to make his fortune elsewhere, and left.

I loved reading the back-stories for Fezzik and Inigo, it gave depth to their characters that you don't get in the movie.  I did get a little annoyed to learn that Inigo and Vizzini should have been people of colour, and had the movie been created today, instead of almost 30 years ago, I would be far more enraged by this.

Prince Humperdink and Count Rugen were just as ruthless, if not more so, in the book. I found myself wishing Humperdink's Zoo of Death was featured in the movie. The way in which Rugen slayed Domingo Montoya and caused the scarring on Inigo's face was quite cold hearted.

The story line is very close to the movie, including the breaks where Goldman talks to his father, obviously there are differences due to budget, and technological ability, but I was very pleased to see that it pretty much held true.

Ultimately I enjoyed the book, but the fictional introduction and the interruptions throughout kind of detracted from the story for me. Next time I read it, I think I'll be skipping these parts.  This is one of the few, if not only, times I prefer the movie to the book.

4/5 stars

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