The Princess Bride

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Beautiful, flaxen-haired Buttercup has fallen for Westley, the farm boy, and when he departs to make his fortune, she vows never to love another. So when she hears that his ship has been captured by the Dread Pirate Roberts – who never leaves survivors – her heart is broken. But her charms draw the attention of the relentless Prince Humperdinck who wants a wife and will go to any lengths to have Buttercup. So starts a fairytale like no other, of fencing, fighting, torture, poison, true love, hate, revenge, giants, hunters, bad men, good men, beautifulest ladies, snakes, spiders, beasts, chases, escapes, lies, truths, passion and miracles.
First published well, in 1973 actually, this book spawned the Rob Reiner-directed cult film of the same name. It’s a tongue-in-cheek fairytale of love, life, action, death and life again. Featuring the obligatory handsome Prince and supremely beautiful princess, it also boasts a Spanish sword wizard, the Zoo of Death, a chocolate-coated resurrection pill and lots of villains, who span the spectrum from evil, through even more evil to (gasp) most evil. And then there’s Fezzik, the gentle giant addicted to rhyming.

William Goldman–who’s won two Oscars for his screenwriting (Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and All the President’s Men), and has endeared himself to dentists and their patients planetwide through his novel Marathon Man–has always claimed he merely abridged this text, extracting the “good parts” from an inventive yet wordy classic by Florinese literary superstar, S Morgenstern.

It has, however, been whispered in certain circles that Morgenstern himself is a figment of Goldman’s ultra-fertile imagination. Read Goldman’s original and special Anniversary introductions and make up your own mind. Oh–and don’t forget his explanation as to why he’s only “abridged” the first chapter of the sequel Buttercup’s Baby–which appears here for the first time–and why it took him so long to get round to it.

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