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.
The book started in a way I wasn't expecting, delving into the narrators life and explaining how he'd come by the fantastic tale of the Princess Bride Buttercup. This story encompasses how he first encountered the tale, his motivations in finding it again and also why he chose to rework it. This story is almost completely lost behind the tale of the Princess Bride in both the movie and the book blurbs and pretty much any advertising for the book, but the story does take up a fair amount of the book and does explain some jumps and skips in Buttercup's tale. I think it is rather important for setting the mood and building suspense so don't skip through it, even if you feel tempted.
The tale of adventure woven through the book is one far more focused on Buttercup than the movie portrays, making the title appropriate rather than one that highlights her fought over status only. The tale of adventure is one of Buttercup's love and loss, kidnapping, the re-discovery of her love, their foiled escape, her wait, marriage and escape. In between, we occasionally read of her love's plight and the machinations of the royals. Buttercup is central to the story, as is her character. Where the movie centralises on her beauty and nothing much else, you find Buttercup of the book to be a far different creature. She's wilful and a little dim on the romantic side of things. She's also very stubborn, faces down death and a Prince/King, not at all afraid of adventure and rather practical. In short, she's a great character to read of and view the fantastic world through.
The writing of The Princess Bride is very much like that of a child hyped up on Coca Cola and chocolate. There's many an aside, scattered thought process and the sentences jump about like jumping beans. Instead of making the book impossible to read though, it becomes a blast that can be appreciated for its high energy and exuberance. Even the sections you'd normally consider to be boring on unimportant, mostly to be found in the narrator's tale, become extremely amusing as you read his of thoughts on his fat son, the actress tempting him, those answering the phones and finally Stephen King. The language is over the top to match the energy but for a lengthier read you'll be surprised how quickly you whisk through it.