The Princess Bride: S. Morgenstern's Classic Tale of True Love and High Adventure

The Princess Bride: S. Morgenstern's Classic Tale of True Love and High Adventure

by William Goldman

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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.”

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780156035217
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date: 10/08/2007
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 512
Sales rank: 10,258
Product dimensions: 4.20(w) x 6.80(h) x 1.30(d)
Age Range: 14 - 18 Years

About the Author

WILLIAM GOLDMAN (1931-2018) wrote books and movies for more than fifty years. He won two Academy Awards (for Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and All the President's Men), and three Lifetime Achievement Awards in screenwriting.


New York, New York

Date of Birth:

August 12, 1931

Place of Birth:

Chicago, Illinois


B.A., Oberlin College, 1952; M.A., Columbia University, 1956

Read an Excerpt


The Bride

The year that Buttercup was born, the most beautiful woman in the world was a French scullery maid named Annette. Annette worked in Paris for the Duke and Duchess de Guiche, and it did not escape the Duke’s notice that someone extraordinary was polishing the pewter. The Duke’s notice did not escape the notice of the Duchess either, who was not very beautiful and not very rich, but plenty smart. The Duchess set about studying Annette and shortly found her adversary’s tragic flaw.


Armed now, the Duchess set to work. The Palace de Guiche turned into a candy castle. Everywhere you looked, bonbons. There were piles of chocolate-covered mints in the drawing rooms, baskets of chocolate-covered nougats in the parlors.

Annette never had a chance. Inside a season, she went from delicate to whopping, and the Duke never glanced in her direction without sad bewilderment clouding his eyes. (Annette, it might be noted, seemed only cheerier throughout her enlargement. She eventually married the pastry chef and they both ate a lot until old age claimed them. Things, it might also be noted, did not fare so cheerily for the Duchess. The Duke, for reasons passing understanding, next became smitten with his very own mother-in-law, which caused the Duchess ulcers, only they didn’t have ulcers yet. More precisely, ulcers existed, people had them, but they weren’t called “ulcers.” The medical profession at that time called them “stomach pains” and felt the best cure was coffee dolloped with brandy twice a day until the pains subsided. The Duchess took her mixture faithfully, watching through the years as her husband and her mother blew kisses at each other behind her back. Not surprisingly, the Duchess’s grumpiness became legendary, as Voltaire has so ably chronicled. Except this was before Voltaire.)

The year Buttercup turned ten, the most beautiful woman lived in Bengal, the daughter of a successful tea merchant. This girl’s name was Aluthra, and her skin was of a dusky perfection unseen in India for eighty years. (There have only been eleven perfect complexions in all of India since accurate accounting began.) Aluthra was nineteen the year the pox plague hit Bengal. The girl survived, even if her skin did not.

When Buttercup was fifteen, Adela Terrell, of Sussex on the Thames, was easily the most beautiful creature. Adela was twenty, and so far did she outdistance the world that it seemed certain she would be the most beautiful for many, many years. But then one day, one of her suitors (she had 104 of them) exclaimed that without question Adela must be the most ideal item yet spawned. Adela, flattered, began to ponder on the truth of the statement. That night, alone in her room, she examined herself pore by pore in her mirror. (This was after mirrors.) It took her until close to dawn to finish her inspection, but by that time it was clear to her that the young man had been quite correct in his assessment: she was, through no real faults of her own, perfect.

As she strolled through the family rose gardens watching the sun rise, she felt happier than she had ever been. “Not only am I perfect,” she said to herself, “I am probably the first perfect person in the whole long history of the universe. Not a part of me could stand improving, how lucky I am to be perfect and rich and sought after and sensitive and young and . . .”


The mist was rising around her as Adela began to think. Well of course I’ll always be sensitive, she thought, and I’ll always be rich, but I don’t quite see how I’m going to manage to always be young. And when I’m not young, how am I going to stay perfect? And if I’m not perfect, well, what else is there? What indeed? Adela furrowed her brow in desperate thought. It was the first time in her life her brow had ever had to furrow, and Adela gasped when she realized what she had done, horrified that she had somehow damaged it, perhaps permanently. She rushed back to her mirror and spent the morning, and although she managed to convince herself that she was still quite as perfect as ever, there was no question that she was not quite as happy as she had been.

She had begun to fret.

The first worry lines appeared within a fortnight; the first wrinkles within a month, and before the year was out, creases abounded. She married soon thereafter, the selfsame man who accused her of sublimity, and gave him merry hell for many years.

Buttercup, of course, at fifteen, knew none of this. And if she had, would have found it totally unfathomable. How could someone care if she were the most beautiful woman in the world or not. What difference could it have made if you were only the third most beautiful. Or the sixth. (Buttercup at this time was nowhere near that high, being barely in the top twenty, and that primarily on potential, certainly not on any particular care she took of herself. She hated to wash her face, she loathed the area behind her ears, she was sick of combing her hair and did so as little as possible.) What she liked to do, preferred above all else really, was to ride her horse and taunt the farm boy.

The horse’s name was “Horse” (Buttercup was never long on imagination) and it came when she called it, went where she steered it, did what she told it. The farm boy did what she told him too. Actually, he was more a young man now, but he had been a farm boy when, orphaned, he had come to work for her father, and Buttercup referred to him that way still. “Farm Boy, fetch me this”; “Get me that, Farm Boy—quickly, lazy thing, trot now or I’ll tell Father.”

“As you wish.”

That was all he ever answered. “As you wish.” Fetch that, Farm Boy. “As you wish.” Dry this, Farm Boy. “As you wish.” He lived in a hovel out near the animals and, according to Buttercup’s mother, he kept it clean. He even read when he had candles. “I’ll leave the lad an acre in my will,” Buttercup’s father was fond of saying. (They had acres then.)

“You’ll spoil him,” Buttercup’s mother always answered.

“He’s slaved for many years; hard work should be rewarded.” Then, rather than continue the argument (they had arguments then too), they would both turn on their daughter.

“You didn’t bathe,” her father said.

“I did, I did” from Buttercup.

“Not with water,” her father continued. “You reek like a stallion.”

“I’ve been riding all day,” Buttercup explained.

“You must bathe, Buttercup,” her mother joined in. “The boys don’t like their girls to smell of stables.”

“Oh, the boys!” Buttercup fairly exploded. “I do not care about ‘the boys.’ Horse loves me and that is quite sufficient, thank you.”

She said that speech loud, and she said it often.

But, like it or not, things were beginning to happen.

Shortly before her sixteenth birthday, Buttercup realized that it had now been more than a month since any girl in the village had spoken to her. She had never much been close to girls, so the change was nothing sharp, but at least before there were head nods exchanged when she rode through the village or along the cart tracks. But now, for no reason, there was nothing. A quick glance away as she approached, that was all. Buttercup cornered Cornelia one morning at the blacksmith’s and asked about the silence. “I should think, after what you’ve done, you’d have the courtesy not to pretend to ask” came from Cornelia. “And what have I done?” “What? What? . . . You’ve stolen them.” With that, Cornelia fled, but Buttercup understood; she knew who “them” was.

The boys.

The village boys.

The beef-witted featherbrained rattleskulled clodpated dim-domed noodle-noggined sapheaded lunk-knobbed boys.

How could anybody accuse her of stealing them? Why would anybody want them anyway? What good were they? All they did was pester and vex and annoy. “Can I brush your horse, Buttercup?” “Thank you, but the farm boy does that.” “Can I go riding with you, Buttercup?” “Thank you, but I really do enjoy myself alone.” “You think you’re too good for anybody, don’t you, Buttercup?” “No; no I don’t. I just like riding by myself, that’s all.”

But throughout her sixteenth year, even this kind of talk gave way to stammering and flushing and, at the very best, questions about the weather. “Do you think it’s going to rain, Buttercup?” “I don’t think so; the sky is blue.” “Well, it might rain.” “Yes, I suppose it might.” “You think you’re too good for anybody, don’t you, Buttercup?” “No, I just don’t think it’s going to rain, that’s all.”

At night, more often than not, they would congregate in the dark beyond her window and laugh about her. She ignored them. Usually the laughter would give way to insult. She paid them no mind. If they grew too damaging, the farm boy handled things, emerging silently from his hovel, thrashing a few of them, sending them flying. She never failed to thank him when he did this. “As you wish” was all he ever answered.

When she was almost seventeen, a man in a carriage came to town and watched as she rode for provisions. He was still there on her return, peering out. She paid him no mind and, indeed, by himself he was not important. But he marked a turning point. Other men had gone out of their way to catch sight of her; other men had even ridden twenty miles for the privilege, as this man had. The importance here is that this was the first rich man who had bothered to do so, the first noble. And it was this man, whose name is lost to antiquity, who mentioned Buttercup to the Count.

Copyright © 1973, 1998, 2003 by William Goldman
Map and reader’s guide copyright © 2007 by Harcourt, Inc.

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording, or any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.

Requests for permission to make copies of any part of the work should be submitted online at or mailed to the following address: Permissions Department, Harcourt, Inc., 6277 Sea Harbor Drive, Orlando, Florida 32887-6777.

Table of Contents


Introduction to the 30th Anniversary Edition vii

Introduction to the 25th Anniversary Edition xxxi

The Princess Bride 1

Buttercup’s Baby: An Explanation 359

Buttercup’s Baby, Chapter One: Fezzik Dies 389

Reading Group Guide 451

Customer Reviews

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The Princess Bride: S. Morgenstern's Classic Tale of True Love and High Adventure 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 996 reviews.
DylanJames More than 1 year ago
The story is without peer. For folks who loved the movie, the extra texture and detail provided by the book is very rewarding. However, this ebook presentation is inexcusably poor. What am I talking about? Every other edition of the Princess Bride uses typography to distinguish Goldman's voice from Morgenstern's. This is important, because there are many interjections by Goldman. The first edition of the book used red type for Goldman's voice. Subsequent editions used italics. With the richness of an electronic screen available, what does this ebook do? Absolutely nothing is what it does. The book says "All abridging remarks and other comments will be in this fancy italic type so you'll know." It says this in exactly the same non-italic type of the rest of the book. Hopefully, being an electronic item, this error can be fixed, and existing copies will be updated. This makes it appear that in the production chain of an eBook, or this one anyway, there wasn't a single person who cared about the content of Princess Bride. This is our future! Please take better care.
Hockney More than 1 year ago
This is a classic novel of adventure, romance, sword fighting, revenge, magic and very big rodents. Funnier than the film, and with better special effects. Goldman's radical editing of Morgenstern's epic will appeal to anyone with a love of adventure, but who read the unabridged versions of books such as Don Quixote and Moby Dick and found them boring beyond belief. All the good bits, indeed. And the format's been fixed - Goldman's comentary is now in italics.
AMHblogger More than 1 year ago
Wow, where do I begin? Being a big fan of the movie and critical of adaptations, this book was as close to perfect as you could possibly get! I absolutely loved it! The movie stays very faithful to the book; and the book is purely awesome. The book even contained the aspect that the story was being read to a child by an adult. Goldman took it even a step further and created an entire storyline outside of the actual Princess Bride story. The whole idea of abridging the “original” story by Morgenstern was fictitious, but it had me believing it was the truth. It wasn’t until after finishing the book, I looked it up on the internet and found out it was fake; it was all part of the story. Very creative, I must say. Aside from that, the main story of The Princess Bride was exciting, funny, and touching. The characters were deep, witty, and likable. It contained a great balance of romance, action, suspense, and witty humor. If you enjoyed the movie, you’ll cherish the book. It gives greater detail and background to various characters not seen in the movie. This has undoubtedly become my favorite book by far. To think another story could outdo it is absolutely.... ....INCONCEIVABLE!!!
C_Jenks More than 1 year ago
I have loved this movie and this book since I was very little. Imagine my surprise to find out that there never was an orignial version of this book. The Princess Bride is 100% William Goldman!! There never was a S. Morgenstern ( William Goldman fabricated him) so all the parts of interuption on the book where Goldman puts in his comments regarding the original story were all fabricated as well. It doesnt take away from the beauty of the story don't get me wrong, but He really had me going there for minute :-)
Guest More than 1 year ago
William Goldman has done a brilliant job with his abridgement, as anyone who struggled through the original S. Morgenstern will attest. He truly did leave in only the good parts, and they paint a vivid and engaging picture of Florinese culture that is not to be missed. S. Morgenstern was known for his in depth discussions of every day Florinese life, but this is of little interest to the common reader, and of little enough interest to those of us doing a doctoral dissertation on Florin and it's place in history. Mr. Goldman got it right, and brought this brilliant and historically accurate tale to the masses! I heartily recommend the book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
For anyone who has seen the movie and doesn't think they need to read the book, I say: you don't know what you're missing. Goldman's novel is a whirlwind of adventure, romance, and above all, snark. I first read The Princess Bride in elementary school and was completely snookered into believing that Goldman's introduction was true--and that he had indeed abridged a much longer version of the story. Now realizing my foolishness, I doubly appreciate the narrative voice he uses with such ingenuity. You feel as if you are interacting with his amazing cast of characters as well as the "author" battling it out with an "editor" behind the scenes, as well as a little boy from the intro who loved this tale when he was humdrum narrative here. There is enough different between the book and the movie that I love each unabashedly on their own terms. How could you not love an author who wrote a 50th anniversary fake introduction to his fake introduction about what it was like to make the movie...and how he scaled the Cliffs of Insanity with Andre the giant for research. Rascal.
c1rcu1tn3rd More than 1 year ago
This book is phenomenal. I saw the movie many times before actually reading the book. Needless to say this is one of the best books I have ever read. I highly recommend it to anyone.
saradippity More than 1 year ago
Even if it is a kissing book.
book_lover123 More than 1 year ago
One of the best books I have ever read! I loved the story and It kept me hooked. I skipped all of the parts that the author added about himself. If you are going to read this book I recommend you skip them to. Please click yes if this review helped! ;)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I found out about this book right after I saw the movie. If you saw the movie and even slightly liked it, trust me you will absoutly LOVE this book! The Princess Bride is worth reading no matter who you are. It is a classic tale that has to do with fencing, beasts, true love, and some miracles. I recommend this book to everyone I know! It has always been my favorite book to read. If you are feeling sad, read this book. If you are feeling happy, read this book. It is impossible to put down so make sure you have plently of time to read. (I would not start reading this book at night, you will be up to 6 'oclock in the morning reading.) Enjoy!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hello my name is Inidgo montoya. You killed my father prepare to die- Inidgo Montoya this is my favorite quote ever. Five stars all the way
Nadina85 More than 1 year ago
Grandson: Has it got any sports in it? Grandpa: Are you kidding? Fencing, fighting, torture, revenge, giants, monsters, chases, escapes, true love, miracles... The Princess Bride has all that and more. It's a classic fairytale and is, by far, one of the greatest love/action/adventure/revenge stories you will ever read. That's saying a lot but it's a sure thing. I guarantee it. But for those of you who may scoff at the fantasy, bear with me because it's not all cupcakes and sunshine either. There's death and heartbreak and a, sort of, satirical edge making it equally as engaging as any David Sedaris or Neil Gaiman novel. Wit and whimsy. What more could you ask for? For this reason, there is a little something for everyone. What you are reading is a story within a story. It's a tale about the lasting effects that come from reading great books. It delivers a riveting tribute to the power and beauty of fairytales, even in an age where many consider them archaic and obsolete. This book delivers death-defying feats of love and heroism, and of course, one of the most satisfying acts of retribution ever written on a page. But it's more than that. There is substance here. At it's core, this book is about family, friendship and love (and not just that of Buttercup and Westley). The Princess Bride's real genius lies in how the story is told --- from Goldman's father to him and from him to his own son through the eyes of the fictional S. Morgenstern. And this is what makes it resonate to soundly for me. Of course, it's hard to talk about the book without so much as mentioning the film. The film is iconic. If I'm being completely honest, until very recently, I didn't even realize that the movie was based on a novel. I know, I know. For shame! Anyway, I very rarely enjoy a film as much as the novelization, however, this is one case where I can say that they are equals in every sense of the word. I think this is due in large part to Goldman's hand at writing both the book and screenplay. The storyline is left largely in tact as is much of the original dialogue, rendering it in my eyes, a whopping success. Do you know anyone who doesn't run around uttering "INCONCEIVABLE!"? I know I do. Or what about this little gem? "Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die." I mean, c'mon! Is there any other bit as repeated or loved as that? And maybe in some regard I do hold a bias because I saw the film first, but I can't imagine a better case of casting. I dare any of you to try and picture these lovable characters as people other than who played them on screen. Name one guy who didn't want to share a peanut with Fezzik or one girl who didn't want to swoon in the arms of the dear Wesley. Pure perfection. It is in my fair opinion that whether you choose to read the book or see the film, you are in for a magical treat. You'll be transported to a transcendent, magnificent world of folklore and believe me, it will stand the test of time. It is because of tales like The Princess Bride, that we're able to appreciate these little lessons and the stories that bring them to life. It makes you appreciate the magic of childhood and of true love and of the written word. It's about the power of stories and how they can irrevocably change us. In the end, you realize that anyone is capable of having a happily ever after and you will be left feeling profoundly satisfied. Inconceivable? Not even so.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
For those who know the movie, I highly suggest this. It is truly an all time classic. This i must say is much less drawn on than the original, but still true to the original. Very funny and witty, romantic and it has amazing characters.
somelikeitliterary More than 1 year ago
i had always loved this movie, and when i saw the book one day i decided that it would be fun to read. it was amazing. i love the plot, and how goldman interweaves anecdotes and "facts" about "morgenstern" with the plot of the princess bride. definitely read this
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A truly unforgettable story. This is definitely one of my favorite books of all time and I would recommend it to anyone in sight. Goldman provides a fantastic and entertaining book with lovable characters that I couldn't put down ( besides the parts where he explains himself or talks about his wife or his son)... I actually borrowed this from a teacher and enjoyed it so much that I recently ordered it to read again. If you're a fan of the movie or just a bookworm all the way this is the book for you. And if you don't like it, well, that's just inconceivable!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have the movie and it is amazing I also can what to read it. Every year I throw a movie party and I really what to do it if it is ok with them. Thank you
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a pretty good read. I watched the movie first, so I knew what I was looking for. Some parts of the book are uffy and mive at a slower pace, but I still enjoyed it. ( I skipped some parts of the book. For example, all of the abbriviations). ~ Lola213
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Dull in some parts but has every beat that made me fall in love with the movie.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ok, I'm really confused. Does the book ever get to the actually story of The Princess Bride? Or is it just the author explaining how much he loves it? So confusing. Buyers beware.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Super awesome!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The Princes Bride: A book to readReviewed by Harrison Parker12/6/2013The Princess Bride By William Golding, based on S. Morgenstern’s Classic Tale In William Goldman’s The Princess Bride, a classic tale about true love and adventure, the “good parts” of S. Morgenstern’s classic tale are retold. Goldman does a fantastic job with incorporating two separate stories into one novel. In the first story, Goldman tells of how he came upon the Princess Bride and how his father read it to him. The second story, obviously, was the good parts of The Princess Bride. Throughout the story of The Princess Bride, Goldman throws interjections into the story. These interjections can either be informative, or annoying. Goldman feels it to be important to explain what is clearly understandable in the text, and interrupts the story; kills the enchantment. The facts mentioned in these interventions would be useful for a history book perhaps, but not for a fantasy novel. From a historical point of view, this novel was not very accurate. Goldman then has to interject with an explanation of why they did not have this item in the time this book was set.  The Princess Bride is a very stimulation story. Throughout the book, from a person who has trouble paying attention, the story kept me engaged. From Giants to R.O.U.S’s, Goldman gives a sense of magic in a normal world. From cover to cover, most everything had a purpose and everything fell into place. For example, the phrase “as you wish” seems nothing until it is used to reveal the man in black to Buttercup, and was a secret message. The man in black is what a child would call a superhero, based on his strength and intelligence. Goldman stays true to his theme throughout the novel, which is love conquers death. The fact that the characters are willing to die for each other proves his point. In my opinion, staying true with your theme separates a good piece of work and a bad piece of work. Goldman excels at it. The style of writing where one can definitely know exactly what is going on seems to me that Goldman wrote this with the intention of it becoming a movie. Instead of making the novel the best it can be, to me it felt like Goldman was optimizing the book for a movie. Most of the story was in the movie, the story didn’t need to be cut a lot to remain fit for a movie, and the movie achieved exceptional ratings. Although, based on how good the book was, I am not going to complain very much.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
You killed my father. Prepare to die.
77roses More than 1 year ago
I have alwlays liked reading this book, and I am thrilled to have it digitally available. Although my fantasy was destroyed when I found out that there was no Morgenstern ... the book is still a timeless classic!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved the movie so i cant wait to read it its a love story but with pirates and fighting i always hear thet the book is always better but i donno its my favorite movie!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Awesome book. I love it soooooooooo much.