The Princess Bride

By William Goldman,

Book cover of The Princess Bride: S. Morgenstern's Classic Tale of True Love and High Adventure

Book description

William Goldman’s beloved story of Buttercup, Westley, and their fellow adventurers.

This tale of true love, high adventure, pirates, princesses, giants, miracles, fencing, and a frightening assortment of wild beasts was unforgettably depicted in the 1987 film directed by Rob Reiner and starring Fred Savage, Robin Wright, and others. But,…

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Why read it?

16 authors picked The Princess Bride as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

What’s not to love? Most people may be familiar with Rob Reiner’s version of this story filled with “fencing, fighting, torture, revenge, giants, chases, escapes, true love, miracles…” But William Goldman’s writing is richer and more satirical.

I laughed when Goldman wrote about the boring parts that he left out of this rewriting. He encouraged me to write, and rewrite to cut out the boring parts of my own story and share my own adventures.

Is this one too obvious? Inconceivable!

From Heather's list on developing your sense of adventure.

Told by a fictious narrator set in a fictitious place about fictitious people in a fictitious kingdom—but all presented as real—the narrative style of The Princess Bride is both unique and delightful.

William Goldman goes all in on his ruse of a historical origination of the tale, leading to some readers being genuinely fooled, much like Orson Wells’s radio broadcast of The War of the Worlds. 

I like the way Goldman plays around with fairy-tale tropes without getting too snarky or satirical. The famous movie adaptation of the book includes the framing device of a grandparent reading to a child.  This may have subliminally affected me, as I imagine parents, grandparents, uncles, and aunts reading my books to kids while chuckling to themselves, or tearing up, doing it. There are a lot of books for both adults and kids that are great to read to yourself, but can be tiresome to read aloud. I strive to make mine good for both. 

Princess Bride combines the action of fantasy along with a touch of whimsy and fun. If you’ve only ever seen the movie (the most perfectly crafted piece of cinema ever IMO) you really should try the source material. Flawed characters drawn together facing challenges in an overarching quest, but each with their own motivations and reasons for being there. It’s got action. Adventure. Romance. Betrayal. And a touch of magic. What is not to like?

This is a double recommendation because The Princess Bride is also one of my favorite movies. The book is special because the author pretends to be abridging a much longer fantasy adventure novel by the fictional S. Morgenstern. The story skips the boring bits (which don’t actually exist) and crams in all the good stuff we love about the genre. There’s a daring rescue, a mysterious pirate, quirky magic, an evil lord, strange creatures, and lots of excellent sword fighting. The hero, Westley, is full of sassy quips, which makes him a fun counterpoint to the brooding heroes you’ll find…

I am including this book because it is one of my absolute favorite books of all time and thinking of it brings me back to one of my favorite family memories: reading it out loud together. I can still remember carrying it around the house, always ready to read if we had a few minutes or longer. It tells the unlikely love story of a farm boy and a princess. My family still quotes regularly from the book (“as you wish”) and (“inconceivable”) and, of course, (“have fun storming the castle!”). We loved it so much, we named our amazing…

From Elizabeth's list on YA with unlikely love stories.

A classic story of adventure, good versus evil, and the power of unending love. It has a courageous pirate with a reputation for cruelty, a heartbroken soon-to-be princess, a conniving prince, a lovable giant, a determined Spaniard, and a whole cast of characters that demand to be loved (or hated, depending on their role). It is the perfect fairytale story– one filled with nostalgia and adventure with every page. A worthy match for its widely adored movie, The Princess Bride is a must-read for anyone desiring a page-turning escapade. 

I found this book to be the most unusual fairytale I’ve ever read. It was romantic, funny, and easily one of the most quotable books (and movies) ever. “I am Inigo Montoya, you killed my father! Prepare to die!” It didn’t take itself too seriously and was a fun read from beginning to end. It is also my daughter’s favorite book. No wonder it’s become a cult classic!

From Marlayne's list on where love overcomes all obstacles.

There is nothing that The Princess Bride doesn't have. It's an adventure, a romance, a horror (remember The Machine, which literally sucks the life out of you?) and a story that lovingly skewers all of the tropes and expectations we have of High Fantasy. And it also has an extended title! I also love the way the book version is told: Goldman suggests it was originally written by S. Morgenstern, and was actually a political satire—and Goldman's bold enough to put in a fictionalized version of himself. That audacity feeds into what I was trying to do with…

Anyone who has seen the movie understands how perfect a story this is. It has everything you could possibly want. It has love, death, torture, sword fighting, sorcery, pirates, giants, thieves, and so much more. Just as the movie is a cult classic that I am always up for a watch-through with a few friends over drinks. The book is just as good.  

In fact it is one of those books that elevates the movies. Knowing the little background pieces that didn’t make the film help flesh out the characters. 

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