Review: The Princess Bride by William Goldman

21787The Princess Bride by William Goldman

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Received: Borrowed
Publication Date: 1973
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Point of View: 3rd Person & Alternative
Recommended Age: 12+
Pacing: Slow
Genres &  Themes: Young Adult, Fantasy, Love, Adventure, Classic, Kings and Queens, Danger, Pirates

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What happens when the most beautiful girl in the world marries the handsomest prince of all time and he turns out to be…well…a lot less than the man of her dreams?

As a boy, William Goldman claims, he loved to hear his father read the S. Morgenstern classic, The Princess Bride. But as a grown-up he discovered that the boring parts were left out of good old Dad’s recitation, and only the “good parts” reached his ears.

Now Goldman does Dad one better. He’s reconstructed the “Good Parts Version” to delight wise kids and wide-eyed grownups everywhere.

What’s it about? Fencing. Fighting. True Love. Strong Hate. Harsh Revenge. A Few Giants. Lots of Bad Men. Lots of Good Men. Five or Six Beautiful Women. Beasties Monstrous and Gentle. Some Swell Escapes and Captures. Death, Lies, Truth, Miracles, and a Little Sex.

In short, it’s about everything.


I must say that the humour in this book is quite special.

‘‘I must court her now,’’ said the Prince. ‘‘Leave us alone for a minute.’’ He rode the white expertly down the hill.

Buttercup had never seen such a giant beast. Or such a rider.

‘‘I am your Prince and you will marry me,’’ Humperdinck said.

Buttercup whispered, ‘‘I am your servant and I refuse.’’

‘‘I am your Prince and you cannot refuse.’’

‘‘I am your loyal servant and I just did.’’

‘‘Refusal means death.’’

‘‘Kill me then.’’

It’s a comedy, with a scoop of tragedy, and an adventure at all times. Not simply an adventure, a journey.

Danger awaits the characters at every chapter and the obstacles they are faced with and their ways of dealing with them are peculiar.

Even if you try to, you will not be able to take the story seriously. More than half of the characters are sheer idiots – yes, even Buttercup is naïve, unoriginal and, very often, stupid.

But that’s, to some extent, normal. One cannot write a comical story without having silly characters in it.

There are many overused tropes in this fairytale: a damsel in distress, beauty beyond imagination, a rescuer, villainous villains, villainous villains who lose their villainy and the ‘‘true love’’ theme.

The first half is a lot of fun. With a humorous, one-of-a-kind narration, William Goldman entertains us (or at least tries to) throughout the book. The only problem is that the story slows down past the half mark. It’s less hilarious past that point, also. A dark humour stars to appear, and it’s up to you to accept it or not.

I was not a fan of it. Or the way the author decided to wrap things up… to rescue the princess. What I can say is that the first half is incredible and the second half very different (but for me, not in a good way).

Furthermore, while Westley seems like the perfect gentleman/lover/man/husband at first, he has real issues. Not only does he hit Buttercup, but he also orders her around, brusque as a soldier. I cannot say I admire him or the couple in general. Beauty is such an important theme in this novel it’s hard to see what else Westley may see in Buttercup. We’re left to speculate, because it is not as if they have tons of conversations.

To sum it all up, the love story did not convince me, but the characters are interesting to follow around and I truly appreciated the originality of the narration.

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11 thoughts on “Review: The Princess Bride by William Goldman

  1. Oh no!!!! I’ve been wanting to read this forever… The way I understood it, I thought this book was about fairytales and poking fun at the overused tropes in fairytales? Or am I completely wrong?


    • Is that what it was? I liked the humor, but the author could have kept the humor without all them tropes. I didn’t feel like it was making fun of the damsel in distress or the rescuing, but it did make fun of the villains, or portrayed them comically, rather.


  2. I think I appreciate The Princess Bride more than I like it. It’s unique and has a lot of unusual elements, but I don’t really share its sense of humor.


  3. I think because we poke fun a lot more these days, it’s hard to tell whether or not they’re actually poking fun back then. Maybe we just assume they’re not – I’ve known people to be horrified at scenes from Blazing Saddles, by Mel Brooks, the King of Parody, because they were taken out of context/because they missed the fact that it was a parody.
    The tropes need to be there because that’s what Goldman (and the eventual movie makers) were ridiculing – I think it’s just dated a little now, partly because it’s something we do constantly, which makes it harder to find the humour in a way.

    Either way, I love both – maybe having seen the movie first helped though, as I clearly thought it was funny as a child. Having read the book as an adult, however, I’m glad I never read the book at that age!


  4. Oh wow, I thought I was the only blogger alive that had never read this – though I still haven’t so now I might be LOL! Anyway, I can see having some of the issues you had with it – and it makes me feel better to see what bothered you because otherwise everyone seems to have grown up on this story and ADORED it. It sounds like it might have become dated through the years. In any case, great, objective review!!


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