Sunday, December 25, 2011

Celebrating the Ultimate Gift

Shopping, wrapping, baking, decorating, getting together with friends, fellowshipping with family—what a busy time this is! And today is the day to celebrate. Yet amongst all the busyness, it is easy to forget what we truly are celebrating for.

For unto you is born this day
in the city of
David a Saviour,
which is Christ the Lord

Under the trees, various sized boxes wrapped with pretty paper and fancy bows sit awaiting to be opened. Yet nothing compares to the gift our Lord and Savior has given us.

And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes,
lying in a manger.

Though the gifts wrapped in paper with smiling snowmen and ice skating penguins might be appealing to the eye, our True Gift was instead wrapped in swaddling clothes and given to us out of Ultimate Love. Such love that our very Lord humbled Himself to that of a human babe all for us.

And suddenly there was with the angel
a multitude of the heavenly host praising God,
and saying, Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace, good will toward men.

It is not the earthly gifts, baked goodies, decorated trees, or even family we are celebrating this time of year. It is our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. The Ultimate Gift He has given us. His love for us is abundant, infinite! He deserves our celebration.

Glory to God in the highest!

Nativity Scene

Sunday, December 4, 2011

The Princess Bride Book Review

The Princess Bride Book CoverSynopsis
A Classic Tale of True Love and High Adventure

As Florin and Guilder teeter on the verge of war, the reluctant Princess Buttercup is devastated by the loss of her true love, kidnapped by a mercenary and his henchmen, rescued by a pirate, forced to marry Prince Humperdinck, and rescued once again by the very crew who absconded with her in the first place. In the course of this dazzling adventure, she’ll meet Vizzini—the criminal philosopher who’ll do anything for a bag of gold; Fezzik—the gentle giant; Inigo—the Spaniard whose steel thirsts for revenge; and Count Rugen—the evil mastermind behind it all. Foiling all their plans and jumping into their stories is Westley, Princess Buttercup’s one true love and a very good friends of a very dangerous pirate.


The Princess Bride has been a beloved tale for many years, becoming an extremely popular movie and loved by countless people.

The original book was written by a man named S. Morgenstern though did not become popular until William Goldman got his hands on it. One day, when William Goldman was sick in bed, his father began reading him this book. Goldman had no idea how it would change his life. Many, many years later, having always let his father read this book to him and never picked it up himself, he finally did so. He was most surprised to find the actual story having much more boring and long material than his father ever read to him. It was then he realized that all those years, his father skipped through the boring stuff and went right into the action. William Goldman decided he wanted to do the same for others. With great effort, he made The Princess Bride what we know today, an abridged version of S. Morgenstern’s classic. The “Good Parts” Version, as it is often called.

Before the real story begins, William Goldman goes into a long explanation of all this. I, personally, found it completely unnecessary and do not understand why he could not just give a quick paragraph or two how it came to be. I would not have minded so much if it were not for his actual story. You see, it seems Goldman does not have…erm…good morals. Thus, his long story of how he came to discover what The Princess Bride was like and how he abridged it had some things in it that seemed very inappropriate and could have been entirely avoided.

When I picked up The Princess Bride anxious to read this hilarious classic, I did not expect to have to read William Goldman’s biography first, which is what it seemed like it was.

Once you do get into the story though, his “biography” does not end quite yet. Throughout the entire book he cuts into the story to explain parts he took out during the abridgement process and such things. I did find these parts rather interesting but, again, he does not always attempt to keep everything he says clean which really irked me.

I find it funny though that throughout it all he is always saying how Morgenstern went on and on about boring points, yet when Goldman begins to explain things he goes into ridiculous detail and you begin to wonder if you will ever get back to the story sometimes. He seems to make the same mistakes Morgenstern did even though the original idea was to fix Morgenstern’s mistakes. It is odd. Of course, I am not one to complain about rambling. Heh. Still, if you are veering far away from the actual story with your ramblings, that is when it is time to stop.

If you do decide to read this book, I suggest just at least skipping his beginning introduction entirely and going right to the actual story.

The Princess Bride starts out with the main character, Buttercup, at her farm with her parents. Here, after some time, she discovers she has fallen head-over-heels for their farm boy, Westley. Having also loved Buttercup for many years and overjoyed to learn she feels the same way about him, Westley goes off to America in order to raise money and buy a house for them. Not too long after, Buttercup goes into complete devastation to learn her love was murdered out on sea by the Dread Pirate Roberts. She vows to never love again.

Some time after this, Prince Humperdinck, having to find a bride soon, seeks her out and she agrees to marry him.

The story really picks up when Buttercup is captured by a mercenary and his henchmen, Ingo and Fezzik. Buttercup is whisked into a dangerous adventure as her captors drag her away and a mysterious man in black pursue them.

The entire story is told in an utterly humorous way. Some lines had me very much laughing out loud. Morgenstern was a genius when it came to humor. I found it just as ridiculous and amusing as the movie.

If you have seen the movie, you will find it actually stayed mostly true to the book. The book, as books usually are, was much more detailed than the movie and had a few minor differences, but it was very close. Very often the scenes would be word to word from scenes in the movie. This is one of the first times I’ve ever seen a movie portrayed so closely to the book. That might have had something to do with William Goldman being the screen writer for the movie though, that is apparently what he does more than novel writing.

All in all, I found the plot to be very entertaining, full of high adventure and true love just as it says.

Like I said before, the parts where Goldman is speaking to the reader is not always clean. He even occasionally used a bad word here and there. Not often, but they were there. The entire book would have been so much better and more appropriate for a younger audience if he had not said some of the things he did. I was extremely displeased.

As far as the actual story, it stayed mostly clean, though there were some things that I did not like. One line in particular about God really set me off. It was at least the bad guy that said it, I would have not tolerated it if one of the protagonists had. Still though, I was not happy about it. I remember one bad word Inigo says near the end. There might have been another, but I do not recall.

One thing I did not like was throughout the whole story a main theme was how important it is for women to be pretty. Buttercup was apparently the prettiest girl in all the world and felt she needed to be for Westley to love her. I found this theme very disturbing. Beauty should never have anything to do with true love. Buttercup obsessed with being beautiful for Westley. I do not want young girls reading this and feeling that they must do the same to find true love. We love people for who they are, not what they look like.

Another thing was how woman were portrayed in the story. It was somewhat subtle and I might have been getting the wrong idea, but I just kind of kept seeing these little sentences that made me think Morgenstern did not think highly of women. I cannot quite pinpoint that or come up with an example, there was just something there that I did not like.

The book also had some rather violent scenes. Which, personally, I did not think really fit with the writing. I know it is a tale of “high adventure” but it is also funny and does not really take itself seriously. So throwing in some quite violent scenes in that seemed a little out of place to me. That was my own opinion though. I do not really mind violence as far as books are concerned, but I think a couple of things might be somewhat disturbing for younger eyes.

Now I am making out this book to be horrible. It really was not all that bad (at least the story part, Goldman’s own “biography” at the beginning, one part in particular, I certainly did not like), there was just some things I really wished had not been said or in it. It is still a very good book though.

You’ve got humor, action, romance, evil plots, loveable characters, and all around excitement. It really is quite an entertaining read.

With the mention of lovable characters, let’s move on to that.
The characters in this story are really what make it fun.

The first character you see is Buttercup. Though she is one of the main characters, she is actually one of my least favorite. I still like her, but the others outshone her considerably. Also, I could never really pinpoint what kind of person she was. She seemed contradictory at times. Still, she was a rather brave woman and loved deeply, so I think she had good character inside her.

Next you have Westley. I love Westley dearly. He risked his whole life and will do absolutely anything to save his love. He is smart, strong, loved deeply, and an all around great person. There were a couple of parts though where he addresses Buttercup in a rather bossy manner, which also seemed out of character, but he still proved to be a fine protagonist.

Inigo and Fezzik were my absolute favorite characters. Inigo is the greatest swordsman alive, having become so because his father was killed and he had trained the way of the sword ever since in order to one day avenge his father. Fezzik is a lovable giant who does not posses much…brain power. He has a kind heart and tender soul to make up for it though. He and Inigo are dear friends and will do anything for one another. They made quite a team and all my favorite parts were the ones about those two.

Then you have Vizzini (the mercenary who captured Buttercup with the help of Inigo and Fezzik), Prince Humperdinck, and Count Rugen, all three the antagonists of the story. They all proved to be good at being evil, but also humorous in their own way. I liked each of them (as villains that is).

The story does not really focus on huge character building. It really does not focus on anything deep. It is just a ridiculous tale with ridiculous people. That is what all the characters are, ridiculous. And I loved every minute of it.

I barely have any complaints as far as the characters go.

Appropriate Ages
As you have probably gathered, there are some mentions in this book that are probably not best for a younger age group. As well as some violence. There was also this one scene where Buttercup had a few horrific dreams that were somewhat disturbing, dreams though they were.

I’m trying to figure out what age group Morgenstern meant for it to be in the first place, and, honestly, I am not really sure. I am pretty positive adults will like this story if they are looking for something humorous as well as adventurous. Teens will certainly like it. I would not go any younger than that though.

Perhaps around 14 or 15 would be the youngest I would go. It really just all depends.

With everything aside, The Princess Bride really was an enjoyable read that got me quite a few laughs. I loved the off the wall humor Morgenstern threw on every page while also providing a very entertaining story.

I deeply wish it was just the story without Goldman’s constant little commentaries throughout it. Without that it was almost clean, but still not quite to my liking.

Still, I have to admit, it was a fantastic story and I think Morgenstern had quite an ability to weave a fun tale and Goldman did a good job giving us just the “good parts”.

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