The Princess Bride

Book review by
Ellen Dendy, Common Sense Media
The Princess Bride Book Poster Image
Popular with kidsParents recommend
Fast-paced fun, but more intense than the movie.

Parents say

age 10+
Based on 5 reviews

Kids say

age 10+
Based on 18 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Positive Messages

Good vs. evil; evil villains commit evil acts; sweethearts remain true to each other against all odds; two lost souls join up with a criminal but eventually defect to the good side; true friends and strangers come to one another's aid; mean kids tease young giant Fezzik; one character is intent on avenging his father's murder; the main theme is "true love will conquer all."

Violence

Swashbuckling-style violence includes evil villains, murder, swordfights, knives, blood, death by poisoning, kidnapping, torture inflicted on humans and animals, giant carnivorous rats, and some other scary stuff. In the more intense scenes the focus is on suspense, not graphic descriptions. Among the most intense scenes is one in which a villain kills an innocent man in front of his victim's young son, then slices the boy's cheeks, scarring him for life.

Sex

Some kissing.

Language

Miracle Max calls the Spaniard a "spick."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

One of the main characters goes on an anxiety-fueled brandy drinking binge that lasts a few pages, but this side-story shows the destructive nature of alcohol.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that William Goldman's The Princess Bride is a sharp-edged fairy tale is geared to tweens and older. The cliffhangers are more intense and some scenes are scarier than in the film version. You'll find truly evil villains, murder, swordfights, knives, blood, poisoning, kidnapping, torture, giant carnivorous rats and eels, and similar scary stuff. One character goes on drinking binge that reveals alcohol's destructive nature. The Princess Bride was adapted for the popular 1987 movie, which was directed by Rob Reiner. Reiner himself narrates the audiobook version. 

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User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byMVMT July 22, 2018

The Princess Bride - Novel

Even though this site indicates there is no language in the book, that is incorrect. Page 282 of ISBN 978-0-15-603521-7 has the word 'shit' and page... Continue reading
Adult Written bymoviemadness April 9, 2008

Must-read book

Parents should know that some of Mr. Goldman's commentary that is included in the book can be a bit mature at times. (He talks about divorcing his wife, a... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written bygilly_boy December 20, 2012

Characters

It's really enjoyable and has high adventure. It does show that life isn't always fair and that I find is really interesting. I've read 175 books... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byTeen06 March 18, 2020
This book is really great and will keep you reading for hours but uses a lot of bad language and talks about some inappropriate subjects.

What's the story?

After learning that her wayward true love, Westley, will never return for her, beautiful, brokenhearted Buttercup agrees to marry entirely undeserving Prince Humperdinck. But before the wedding festivities can commence, Buttercup is kidnapped and whisked away in a boat, her life in the hands of a vicious gang.

Thus begins an edge-of-your-seat adventure involving a six-fingered killer, a royal fiend, a misunderstood giant, a vengeful Spaniard, a retired miracle worker, and the mysterious masked man in black. Toss in a desperate race up the Cliffs of Insanity, wild swordfights, hungry rodents of unusual size, screaming eels, and even more trouble, and it's hard not to believe that the young maiden is doomed.

Will Buttercup survive her increasingly perilous circumstances to find true love again? Rest assured, happiness prevails in the end.

Is it any good?

Goldman's wild ride evokes virtually every emotion possible, and the plot moves so quickly in most parts that readers may need to remind themselves to breathe.

It's impossible to review THE PRINCESS BRIDE without comparing it to the popular film version of the edgy fairy tale. William Goldman wrote both the book and the screenplay, but the more detailed book includes darker, scarier situations. 

Two standout differences in the book are Prince Humperdinck's Zoo of Death (where the brutish royal fights caged animals to the death and always wins), and further development of Fezzik and Inigo Montoya through poignant childhood flashbacks. The description of Humperdinck's "hobby" adds a touch of pure evil, and the flashbacks add so much to the story that you'll wish Miracle Max could magically add them to the next edition of the DVD.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about their favorite scenes and characters in The Princess Bride. How does the book differ from the movie, if you've seen it?

  • How does humor add to this book? Would it be a completely different book if the humor was left out? Do you think you'd like it as much?

  • Buttercup and Westley are heroic, but sometimes their pride gets in the way. Can you think of scenes when this happened?

  • Does the background on Fezzik's and Inigo's childhoods help explain their thoughts and actions as adults? If so, how?

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