Review: The Princess Bride (book)

NaNoWriMo’s over, which means I have a lot more time to read again. One could argue that I could continue a healthy diet of reading in November while writing less, but creating as much as humanly possible in November is much more fun thanks to the challenge of the event.

On to the review. Everyone worth their mustard knows the line “My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.” Even I know it and haven’t even seen The Princess Bride. That’s part of why I bought the book several years ago. The book is always better than the movie, right? I decided to test this theory.

I started reading The Princess Bride months ago, maybe in August. But I put it down about a hundred pages in, probably because I started tutoring at the local library and took advantage of the deadline of turning books in to finish a book that wasn’t already in my possession. Whatever the case, I got a third of the way through before setting it aside for books that came with deadlines. Then December arrived, and I finished the book in three days. Let’s say the movie now has a lot to live up to. In part because of the high quality of the book, I found myself learning a lot about writing in this story.

William Goldman presents The Princess Bride as an abridged work by Florinese writer S. Morgenstern, and Goldman’s commentary is present throughout the book between bits of Morgenstern’s text, of course. He tells the story behind abridging this story to the good parts, which is in itself an entertaining read. He also had me fooled. I’m not overly gullible, but it took a read on the Wikipedia article a chapter in before realizing that S. Morgenstern was also a product of Goldman’s imagination.

The main thing I noticed in the book was Goldman’s use of words. Even with his (or should I say Morgenstern’s) parenthetical asides, the words flowed in a way that made my own use of those asides reassuring. Sometimes the words flowed in a rambling way, but it felt right. The rambling reminded me of a NaNo novel in a way, not in their quality, but in the things that found their way to the page. Yet the things mentioned in those ramblings added to the scene in some way. It gives me some comfort in my own writing.

I also enjoyed the interaction among the subplots. Just about everything mentioned in the story became important later (except, perhaps, Fezzik’s love of rhymes). Goldman sneaked plot elements in very early on. The Dread Pirate Roberts was mentioned long before being showing up in the story. The six-fingered man (and the fact that he had six fingers) kept popping up again and again. Many other plot elements found their places in the plot long before they were important. Organizing my plot elements is something I need to keep in mind as I edit, and Goldman does such a good job at this that I’m going to take a few lessons from him. I think I’ll be taking a few lessons in even more areas of the book as well.

Verdict: Read it. You won’t regret it.

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