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SPOILER ALERT: If you’ve seen the movie, this won’t spoil anything. If you haven’t seen the movie, you need to.
If you’re familiar with the cult-status movie, you will not be disappointed by the book version. The author also later wrote the screenplay.
I could tell Goldman cleaned up some of the concepts from the book for the movie. For example, the Zoo of Death in the book became Count Reugen’s torture chamber in the movie. We loose the development of the Prince as a great hunter and some of the character development between Inigo and Fezzik when they have to fight their way through the levels, but it doesn’t detract from the story in a great way.
I like the book version of Westley better than the movie version. Cary Elwes does an excellent job with the character and his delivery of the “To the Pain” speech was very powerful. However, a novel can delve into the psyche of a character in ways that a movie just can’t. I cried when I read the torture scene, but I didn’t have that reaction at the same point in the movie.
Speaking of the torture scenes, I was able to suspend my disbelief in a way that I hadn’t expected. The movie has a lot of tongue-in-cheek humor and that was very much present in the book as well. However, like the sick boy having the story read to him (the book explains that this is supposed to be Goldman as a young boy who will go on to “abridge” the book) I found myself wrapped up in the story by the end. I was annoyed with Westley and Buttercup in the beginning. They are very cardboard, but that changes quickly. Push through to the second chapter before you really pass judgement. I could write an essay on each character because they are all so well developed.
If you love the movie version of the Princess Bride you’ll love the book, but you may not be able to view the movie in the same way ever again.