Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Princess Bride - William Goldman

"This is my favourite book in all the world, though I have never read it."

A young boy is home sick from school when his father offers to read him a story from In short, this book has everything. To quote directly is has, "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." The story starts with Buttercup, a farmer's daughter and her slow but inevitable relationship with Farm Boy aka Wesley. But when Wesley goes off to seek his fortune and doesn't return, Buttercup is persuaded into an uncomfortable engagment with Prince Humperdink, while still pining for her lost love. But things take a turn when Buttercup is kidnapped and encounters the Dread Pirate Roberts.

I saw the movie first and imagined that this was one of those rare instances where the movie improves upon the book. I could not have been more wrong. This is one of the funniest and most enjoyable fantasy novels I've ever read. The complexity of the 'Morgenstern' plot draws the reader in and never lets go.

The level of humour in this book is unparalleled in any other book I've read. The history of Florin and Guilder is amusing and ridiculous. "There had been the Olive War, the Tuna Fish Discrepancy, which almost bankrupted both nations, the Roman Rift, which did send them both into insolvency, only to be followed by the Discord of the Emeralds, in which they both got rich again, chiefly by banding together for a brief period and robbing everyone within sailing distance."

As well, the characters are so distinct and well-defined. Each has their own quirks. Goldman certainly has a way with words when it comes to description. My favourite line happens to be "Queen Bella was shaped like a gumdrop. And coloured like a raspberry." How can you not grin at that?

My only complaint is that it takes a few pages to get to the actual plot of the story. First the reader has to get through the Morgenstern plot and listen to the narrator go on about his father.

I would highly recommend this book to people who like love stories, a certain level of ridiculousness and of course, swashbuckling.

Rating: 5/5

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