To celebrate World Book Day, I’ve decided to post a review of The Princess Bride, the 1973 fantasy novel that inspired the cult-classic movie of the same name. Not many people know it was a book before it became a movie–I certainly didn’t until I watched the movie for the first time and saw that little line in the credits, “Based on the book by”. This was a similar situation as to when I watched Planet of the Apes for the first time (the Charlton Heston version, not the lackluster 2001 film) and discovered there was a book version of that, too. Well, the original Planet of the Apes novel was even more amazing and thought-provoking than the movie, and so I figured it would be same with The Princess Bride as well. After all, nine times out of ten the book is better than the movie.
It wasn’t quite that cut-and-dry this time, though. This time I’d say that both book and movie were just about equal–not because the book was bad but because the movie adhered so closely to the book. A lot of times film adaptations will rework dialogue or change scenes around, but in the case of The Princess Bride, both book and film shared a lot of the same dialogue, in most cases verbatim.
One advantage the book had over the film, though, was a chance to flesh out the characters a little more and provide more insight into the plot–for example, I had wondered how Prince Humperdinck had learned about Buttercup back when she was just a poor farm girl and how Buttercup rose to the rank of princess before marrying Humperdinck, and the book answered those questions. Additionally, we got to learn more about Inigo and Fezzick’s backgrounds and why they worked for Vizzini even though they knew what kind of a man he was.
The closest I can get to summarizing The Princess Bride is to say it’s kind of the fantasy equivalent of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. It’s witty, surprising, random, and will get you caught up in a world that’s very implausible yet feels just as real as our own, and you will fall in love with characters that feel as though you’ve known them your entire life. A word of caution: it will make you literally laugh out loud, so I don’t advise reading this anywhere you have to be quiet.