The Princess Bride

by William Goldman

Paperback, 2000



Local notes

PB Gol




Del Rey (2000), Edition: Reprint, 283 pages


William Goldman's modern fantasy classic is a simple, exceptional story about quests?for riches, revenge, power, and, of course, true love?that's thrilling and timeless. Anyone who lived through the 1980s may find it impossible?inconceivable, even?to equate The Princess Bride with anything other than the sweet, celluloid romance of Westley and Buttercup, but the film is only a fraction of the ingenious storytelling you'll find in these pages. Rich in character and satire, the novel is set in 1941 and framed cleverly as an "abridged" retelling of a centuries-old tale set in the fabled country of Florin that's home to "Beasts of all natures and descriptions. Pain. Death. Brave men. Coward men. Strongest men. Chases. Escapes. Lies. Truths. Passions."… (more)


Original publication date


Physical description

283 p.; 6.8 inches

Media reviews

The book is clearly a witty, affectionate send-up of the adventure-yarn form, which Goldman obviously loves and knows how to manipulate with enormous skill.

User reviews

LibraryThing member StoutHearted
A thoroughly charming novel, or more acurately: a fictional novel inside a fictional novel. Like many, I was a fan of the movie and didn't know that there was a novel that came first. I was pleasantly surprised how faithful the film was in structure: the film has the story unfold through a
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grandfather reading to his sick grandson. The novel has the quirky author talking about the trials and joys of abriding fictional author Morgenstern's "The Princess Bride." So, in additon to a heartfelt, funny story, we get funny asides, clever satire, and a kinship with the author.

The "Princess Bride" story is about the love between Wesley, a poor farm boy, and Buttercup, the most beautiful girl in the world (without, sadly, wits to match.) They are separated, first by exaggerated rumors of Wesley's death, then Buttercup being chosen as evil Prince Humperdinck's bride - a job that she, unknowingly, is not meant to fill for long. Through the couple's adventures we also meet two great characters: Inigo Montoya, a drunken, but talented, swordsman hell-bent to avenge his fathers murder at the six-fingered hands of Count Rugen. Fezzik, a strong, gentle giant with an affinity for rhyming, gets a better backstory than the film had time for. Together, the characters help to right wrongs, and promote true love. Schmaltzy? The characters are far from perfect, and their flaws are humerously pointed out, yet not viciously mocked.

Meanwhile, the author interjects his points throughout the story. These interruptions are the source of much humor, and keep the novel from being just another fairy tale. Goldman, as a character in his own novel, is constantly nitpicking at Morgenstern's story, telling us what he "took out" and why (like eliminating numerous pages on the subject of packing for a trip.) He'll butt in to tell us glaring errors, or parts his wife didn't like, or parts he discovered his father changed when the story was read to the author as a child. We get to enjoy the story on many levels.

My edition had the extra delight of including a map of Florin and Guilder, with major plot points illustrated upon it. Anyone who liked the movie will surely enjoy this edition.
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LibraryThing member elliepotten
Like many people I expect, I came to this book having already seen and loved the 1987 movie – a fact that is beautifully exploited by Goldman in this up-to-date edition of his cult classic. From the first page of his tongue-in-cheek introduction I found myself stifling giggles, reading about the
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process of casting and shooting the film. It was once the novel itself began, however, that I really fell in love.

As most people will know, The Princess Bride is a satirical take on fairytale tradition, ‘abridged’ from a larger fictional work by ‘S. Morgenstern’. One of the real delights in the book is how convincing Goldman is about the existence of the fictional country of Florin and about Morgenstern’s style as a writer. There are brilliantly executed editorial sections scattered throughout the novel detailing his decisions to cut various parts of the ‘original’. It really is no wonder that so many readers hit the bookshops looking for Morgenstern’s version!

The story itself is famous for its brilliant wit and its cast of wonderful characters. At its heart is the story of the Princess Buttercup and her true love, the farm boy Westley. Around that heart is built a complex web involving pirates, sword-fights, an evil prince, a benevolent king, revenge, monsters and betrayal. There is a Zoo of Death and a terrifying Dread Pirate Roberts, an albino and a miracle man, giant rats and Cliffs of Insanity. Of course, I couldn’t forget the wonderful trio, Vizzini the Sicilian (the criminal mastermind), Inigo the Spaniard (the master fencer) and Fezzik the Giant (the rhyming fighter), each with their own journeys to make.

I could go on forever but the truth is, it’s really one of those books that works better if you just pick it up, settle in for the ride and find out for yourself. If you’ve seen the movie, now read the book; if you’ve not heard of either, what are you waiting for?! You’re in for a real treat – and it’s definitely a keeper for me.
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LibraryThing member ncgraham
Reading William Goldman’s The Princess Bride made me think of a comment Audra McDonald once made about the 1948 Lorenz Hart biopic Words and Music: “it was all lies, basically.”

Of course, it could be argued that all fiction is made up of lies, lies that mask some central truth (or simply
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entertain us). But Goldman takes it a step further by making pretensions to truth, inventing a fellow named S. Morgenstern and saying that he wrote The Princess Bride: Goldman was only responsible for the abridgement, the “good parts” version. It’s all a lot of hooey, of course, but it’s dreadfully funny hooey; what’s even funnier is that there are people out there still looking for the unabridged version. I even recall a friend of my aunt’s telling me once upon a time that she had actually found it. To this day I don’t know whether I misunderstood, or whether she was simply mental.

The story itself is what everyone who has seen the movie will remember it being: a “classic tale of true love and high adventure,” with a huge spoonful of humor ladled on. The “big scenes” are all here—the Cliffs of Despair, the Fire Swamp, the rescue attempt—and so are the characters—Buttercup, Westley, Inigo, Fezzik, Prince Humperdinck, Mad Max, you name ‘em.

But what’s really fascinating are the things that didn’t make it into the movie. Yes, Buttercup does actually have parents (from the movie, one would almost assume her to be an orphan like Westley), and we get to meet them and watch her interact with them. Now, too, I finally know how Buttercup became a princess before marrying Humperdinck. Turns out the nobles said he couldn’t marry a commoner, so the royal family made her Princess of Hammersmith, “which was this little lump of land attached to the rear of King Lotharon’s holdings.” Ha. That’s great.

I must say, though, that I don’t much care for Goldman’s writing. Don’t get me wrong: he’s a great storyteller, but his prose is pretty weak. Comma splices abound, and there are one too many sentences that should end with a question mark and don’t.

I also didn’t care for all the extraneous material at the front and back of the book; the introductions to the 30th and 25th editions, the “Explanation,” and the 1st chapter of Buttercup’s Baby do nothing for me, and even the original introductory chapter should be about a fifth of its current size. All we need to know is that the book was written by the (imaginary) Florinese author S. Morgenstern, that Goldman’s father read it to him when he was a child, and that he is now abridging it; we certainly don’t need the bitter and disturbing of his (also imaginary) failed marriage. (It’s worth noting that the one unhappy marriage in the story itself—that of Buttercup’s parents&madsh;is presented with much more sensitivity and tact. There’s even a vague suggestion that they need each other, even if they won’t admit it.) I understand this is a postmodern novel and all that, but it’s the story that interests me.

In the end, I do think I prefer the movie to the book: it’s cleaner, and while it’s less satirical, I find it funnier. Still, I think the book is worth a look for anyone who enjoys both reading and the film adaptation. Since pretty much everybody likes the movie, and you wouldn’t be here if you didn’t like reading, I guess that means you.

Who knows? Maybe Words and Music is worth watching as well.
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LibraryThing member rosa.draconum
I first read this book as a very small child. I had seen the movie first (it's one of the first movies I ever remember seeing) and was eager to get my hands on the book.

I managed to get about half way through. Mostly I skipped over abridger William Goldman's lengthy interjections, but I did read
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the one he put in during Buttercup's nightmares. He said horrible things about his wife and his son, and I couldn't believe that he'd been so MEAN to his own family that I put the book aside. I didn't want anything to do with Mr. Meany-Pants Goldman.

Well, that copy of the book got lost, and my love of the Princess Bride movie continued. Years later I picked it up again. I was able to get through the interjections and I finally finished the book. I liked it so much that I decided I was going to skip the middle man and read the book in full, no matter what Meany-Pants Goldman had to say about the parts he cut out.

Are you beginning to notice something here? For years, I didn't turn on to the biggest deception in a text that I've ever read.

There is no S. Morgenstern. William Goldman wrote the whole thing.

This is how much this book sucked me in. I knew there was no such country as Florin. Therefore there could be no Florinese history. There could be no Florinese Language editions of the book. But I still thought the story about William Goldman abridging a the mammoth original text for his ten year old son was true.

Needless to say, I felt right stupid when I finally realized. But I grew to love the interjections, and I have gone back and read the book, skipping over all the stuff with Wesley and Buttercup and Inigo and Fezzik and so forth, just to read them. They are as much a part of the story as the fencing and fighting, the true love and the miracles. The Princess Bride is about being sucked into a story, having it latch onto your soul and it never letting go. And the reason it conveys that message so well is because that is exactly what it does.

I recently got the DVD of the movie, where William Goldman discusses writing the book. In it, he reveals that he doesn't even have a son- not even a fat spoiled one. And he was never married to a hot shot child psychologist.

The original story had still latched on to my soul, and I still naivly clung to the truth of it. You tricked me again, Mr. Goldman. Well played. Well played, indeed.
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LibraryThing member oddbird26
One of my favorite books ever, and I don't use "favorite" lightly. The first time I read this, it was on a 13 hr car trip, and I don't think I put the book down once. For someone who usually tries to sleep away long car trips, that's saying something.

If you love the movie, you'll love the book even
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more. It has everything there, but more. More adventure, more fleshing-out of the characters you love, more humor.

The only thing I've heard people complain about are Goldman's comments. If you're more interested in the adventures, then by all means, skip over anything in italics. Personally, I think that most were pretty funny, and I was 10 the first time I read it. If anything, I thought the introduction was a little long, but I thought his comments within the story were pretty funny. Supposedly, 4 pages cut about packing hats, 2 pages about unpacking them, and so on - I thought it was funny that Morgenstern had written about that! Even rereading it now for the umpteenth time, I still find them funny. If you're enjoying the humor in the story, by all means, don't miss the italics.

Overall: This is one of the best fun, fantasy books I've ever read. Light, fun read, but with a very satirical, tongue-in-cheek sense of humor throughout. Definitely one you have to read at least once.
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LibraryThing member jclemence
I picked this book up for $1 at the local Goodwill store. Sure, I've seen the movie a few times; it's pretty good. I wouldn't ascribe "cult classic" status to it personally, but it is fun to watch. The book had been on my wish list for some time, so I snatched it up when I had the chance, figuring
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the book would also be a fun read. Plus, I could check the book off my list.

Boy, was I ever wrong.

Within the first ten pages, I was hooked. From the outset, it was obvious that this was a case in which, as usual, the book is better than the movie--but in this case, it was much, much better. I won't spell out the plot for you; I assume most people have seen or are familiar with the movie. I will comment on why the book is better.

Basically, the book contains a much more robust storyline. Author William Goldman offers a detailed--and hilarious--introduction in which he describes the "events" that led up to his "abridging the original book" by (I assume) alter-ego Simon Morgenstern. This immediately allows the reader access to the mind of the author, which I think allows for more interaction during the course of reading. Goldman--er, Morgentsern--also delves more deeply into the back stories of Humperdinck, Inigo and Fezzik than the movie could do. I especially enjoyed the book's treatment of Inigo. His subplot is much fuller in the book and even goes into detail about the man his father was. After reading that section, if I were Inigo, I would devote my life to pursuing his killer, too! This, of course, made the actual duel between him and the Count all the more intense. The book also contains several scenes that were cut out of the movie entirely, including Inigo and Fezzik descending the levels of the Zoo of Death. The simple, short ending of that pericope is a masterful example of understatement as humor. Finally, someone who only watches the movie will miss out on all of the funny little asides that are strewn about the pages of this book.

Instead of a book I thought I would read once, and that mainly as a "check the box" activity, I ended up with a book that kept me up late several nights and a book that I will definitely reread several times in the future. Indeed, as I read, I kept asking myself, "Why have I waited so long to read this book?" I encourage you, then, to learn from my mistake and read this book soon!
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LibraryThing member cestovatela
I feel like I'm betraying my principles when I say a movie is better than the book but in this case, I feel it's true. The plot of the movie follows the main body of the book pretty closely, which made it a little dull for me. That's not a fault of the book, but the boring and awkward framing
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device is. Rather than taking us directly to the tale of Westley and Buttercup, the 30-page prologue introduces us to an aging screenwriter, his unloving marriage and his tattered relationship with his overweight teenage son. The story of the Princess Bride is the screenwriter's birthday gift for his son, an attempt to reconstruct his favorite tale from childhood. This might not have mattered if the main body of the book, the story of the Princess Bride, had been presented as an integrated whole. Instead, our unnamed screenwriter frequently interrupts the narrative with lengthy asides that break the spell of the story. I found a lot of individual scenes amusing, but the book just doesn't hang together as a whole. You can probably find better uses of your reading time.
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LibraryThing member tm_roy
I opened this book expecting great things--it was the book version of a movie I loved... now I would get all the good details, see what they left out of the movie.It turns out they left the author commentary crap out of the movie, thank goodness. The movie was what the book should have been like,
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had it been edited properly. The exact same lines, scenes, everything, verbatim. To me, it didn't come across as well in the book as it did on screen...then again, I guess it was written as a screenplay from the start.I HATED all the author commentary. Vapid, stupid, dragging the story down, boring! Honestly, I gave them a chance. I dove into the first of these asides expecting something insightful and funny. Instead, all I got was to skip every single one of the insertions and read on in vain for something else that was different than the movie.I love the story, the characters, and everything else about it. Hated the bonus "Buttercup's Baby", it was so disappointing, but again that was on top of the disappointment I was already feeling that the book should have been better than the film.If you saw the movie, do yourself a favor and stay away from the book. You're not missing anything. Honest.
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LibraryThing member AbigailAdams26
I have always been a bit of a "literal Libby," and subtle (or not-so-subtle) irony and satire has a tendency to fly right over my head... So it is that when I first read Goldman's introduction to The Princess Bride, in which he discusses the difficulties he encountered in procuring and then
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revising a copy of S. Morgenstern's "old" classic, I believed him implicitly.

The nascent textual scholar in me was agog, and I simply longed to read the "boring" version, complete with all the details of Florin diplomacy, and the catalog of Buttercup's trousseau. I can still recall my sense of disappointment, betrayal even, at discovering that there was no "original" version of this to be had...

Despite the frustration of that childhood fantasy, The Princess Bride has always ranked as one of my favorite stories, and I reread the book (and watch the movie) with some regularity. Who wouldn't be charmed by this tongue-in-cheek tale of true love? With pirates, princes, and revenge-obsessed Spaniards, it's hard not to fall under Goldman's spell. I love Westley and Inigo so much, I can even forgive the author for making Buttercup something of a dimwit - and given my somewhat prickly feelings about the portrayal of women in popular culture, that's saying something!

In short: wonderful, marvelous, superb! It is simply inconceivable that there is anyone out there who has not yet enjoyed the delights of this rollicking tale...
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LibraryThing member bluesalamanders
This is one of the few instances where I love both the book and the movie. Also, I always forget how much less stupid book-Buttercup is than movie-Buttercup.
LibraryThing member DesBelle
While I love the actual story of the Princess Bride and can understand why it needed to be abridged for other countries, I would have preferred that Goldman keep his insights and personal story in the introduction and let his readers have their own opinions.
LibraryThing member riverwillow
Confession time, many years ago I had a flatmate who seemed quite normal when she moved in, but turned out to be completely mad in a very disturbing way. The Princess Bridewas her favourite film and, due to her disturbing madness, I wrote off the film (and the book) as not being for me and, despite
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various friends telling me that I'd love the film, up until know I've avoided both. So what changed my mind? Recently I met up with a Uni friend, we were going to watch Hamlet (which was excellent by the way) and had a quick drink before the performance and, as literature students, we talked about what we were reading and she was reading The Princess Bride for the first time, having been a huge fan of the film. We discussed the disturbing flatmate at some length, who was eventually dismissed by my uni friend with a wave of her very well manicured hand. She then reminded me that I am huge fan of modern day fairy tales and, in the time it took to drink one glass of wine, essentially convinced me to buy the book.

So here I am. And I'm really mad. Hopping mad. Mad with myself for letting a stupid crazy women stop me from reading this wonderful book.

I will be honest, it took me a few pages to get into the book, but what really hooked me was Buttercup's declaration of love '...I have loved you for several hours now, and every second, more. I thought an hour ago that I loved you more than any women had loved a man, but half an hour after that I knew that what I felt before was nothing compared to what I felt then. But ten minutes after that, I understood that my previous love was a puddle compared to the high seas before a storm. Your eyes are like that, did you know? Well they are ...'

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LibraryThing member araliaslibrary2
i fell in love with the movie when i was about 14. at that point i believed that s morgenstern really wrote the book, and even though i now know he didn't... i still kind of believe he did. but not really. well, a bit. anyway, the book is, if possible, better than the movie. or at least, equally
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good in a very different way.

it's funny and smart and romantic, and i hope one day that goldman finally gets round to abridging buttercup's baby.
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LibraryThing member wunder
Still five stars, but if you get the 25th or 30th anniversary editions, DO NOT read the introduction and think about skipping the whole "Buttercup's Baby" afterword and story. All that stuff is three stars.

The original story is finely balanced between the narrative and the authorial intrusions. It
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shouldn't work at all, but it does. The introduction is all William Goldman all the time. I was getting a bit tired of him by the time the story starts, and that just throws off the balance of the story.

So skip the introduction. If you a really curious, read it after you've enjoyed or re-enjoyed the story. And if this is your first time, REALLY don't read the intro because he gives away plot points.
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LibraryThing member enoch_elijah
I was probably like most people in that I've watched the movie version of "Princess Bride" countless times and quote from it repeatedly...I mean, come on, it's one of the greatest movies ever made, right? Like most people, however, I'd never actually read the book from which the movie was made.
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Well that has finally been rectified and I can honestly say that the book was quite good and I highly recomment it. Much of what I liked about the book is how the author never comes out of character and continues his made up world from intro to afterword. Indeed, there were times when I began to believe that there existed a real country known as Guilder!

Well there is not much that I can say about the book other than to recommend that everyone read it. The version I have includes the supposedly long lost sequel "Buttercup's Baby." If you've seen the movie (and who hasn't?), then read the book. You will not regret it!
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LibraryThing member distractedmusician
A staple in any family's library. Though I love the movie dearly, which was extremely well done, I can't help but miss Goldman's narration that brings so much to the book. What I find so amazing about this book is that it is timeless. My mother loved the book/movie before me, and I guarantee I will
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be sharing them with my own children some day.
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LibraryThing member AmyElizabeth
This review has been hard to write, mainly because I'm most likely going to end up reviewing the movie more than the book. In fact, if you think you might like the book, just go watch the movie.

The Princess Bride, by William Goldman, is essentially the story of a kidnapped princess, a greedy
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prince, a giant with a big heart, a revengeful swordsman, and a mysterious rescuer. That part of the story is good (and not as girly as the title implies - trust me, guys will like it). The rest of the book tells the story of the author and his tale of how he found the book (because in his fictional world, it was written by S. Morgenstern) and how his grandfather used to read it to his father, and his father used to read it to him, and not until he tried to read it on his own did he realize that his father had been abridging the book in an effort to only leave in "the good parts." The premise, then, is that Goldman's job is to officially abridge Morgenstern's work so it's more accessible to the general public. The author cuts into the body of the story every once in awhile, which if you don't like interference from authors, you probably won't be a fan of this.

In short, I found this book confusing at first, and then annoying. Don't get me wrong, the story of "the princess bride" is a good one. But they did such a great job in the movie (most of the lines are taken straight from the book) that I would rather just sit down and see it played out than have to delve into the author's narration.

3 out of 5 stars. And that third star is only because the story itself is so good. Do yourself a favor: watch the movie. You'll get all of "the good parts."
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LibraryThing member Stewartry
Did no one pick up on the irony of this being an abridgement?

I am philosophically opposed to abridgements, but I couldn't resist the deep desire to hear Rob Reiner reading The Princess Bride. As a narrator, he makes a great director – but it was still a lot of fun.
LibraryThing member brettjames
If growing up means I can no longer enjoy this book, I refuse to do it.
LibraryThing member smartsimpleton
hysterical! a perfect understanding of the fantasy genre which succeeds in poking fun in a very dry manner.
LibraryThing member jesslyncummings
This has been my favorite book since I first read it a decade ago. I usually read it at least once a year. It's got everything: "Fencing, fighting, torture, revenge, giants, monsters, chases, escapes, true love, miracles... "
But I have found that not everyone loves this book as much as I do. I
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think people get confused by the "book with in a book" motif and don't know what to believe. The WHOLE book is fiction even if bits of truth are worked in.
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LibraryThing member Nikkles
The Princess Bride book is as delightful and fun as the movie. The book has the added benefit that you can enjoy it at your own pace. A light fun read that can be enjoyed by all, well, anyone with a sense of humor.
LibraryThing member Pascale1812
The main action is almost just like the movie, so no surprises there. However, the writing is funny and the commentary by Goldman is well worth the read.
LibraryThing member MrsKitching
[Princess Bride] by [[William Goldman]] is one of my most favourite books of all time. It is like curling up with a cup of tea and a warm blanket after a busy day! The story is framed by the idea that the Author was once read a story called 'The Princess Bride' by his own father and now wishes to
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share the story with his own son. However, after hunting down the book he realises that his father 'edited' the story as he told it, so this book is the 'Good Bits Only' version of the original book. This allows Goldman to insert his own commentary and humorous anecdotes into the story.
Wesley, Buttercup, Inigo and Fezzick are brilliant characters. Their adventures and triumphs over the evil Prince Humperdink warm your heart. It is a fairytale for the young and young at heart.
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LibraryThing member Arctic-Stranger
The film did not come first, but it is a classic. I first bought this book back in 1974 when I found it in the remaindered section at B. Dalton's. (It was the original hardback version, and had the "editorial comments" in red,and the "text" in black. I have had many copies over the years. Every
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time I read it to my children, I would buy them their own copy.

Just last might my 16 year son cornered me and said, "My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die."

To which I said, "Luke, I AM your father!"
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