Fantasy/SF Book Reviews

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Princess Bride by William Goldman

Ballantine Books, December 1998.
Hardcover, 399 pages.
ISBN: 034543014X.
Ordering information:

Cover of Princess Bride
by William Goldman William Goldman created an instant classic when he wrote The Princess Bride, a mixture of comic novel, fairy tale and swashbuckling adventure, in 1973. Goldman starts the story by telling the readers that he first heard this fantastic story when he was sick in bed as a little boy and his father read him "just the good parts" of the original, lengthy work by the fictional famous Florinese author, Morgenstern. The original work supposedly had much more boring description and lengthy digressions about the manners and mores of Florin, from which Goldman now mercifully spares the modern reader. (In fact, many readers seem never to have gotten Goldman's original joke and ask where to find the Morgenstern original of the work.) The story revolves around Buttercup, the most beautiful, perfect woman the world has ever known and her love for Westley, who goes from farmboy to dashing adventurer all for the love of Buttercup. With evil villains, a friendly giant, a quest for revenge, torture, redemption from death, and, of course, true love, this story has something for everyone, whether it's read as a straight fairy tale, a satire or as a comic novel. The writing is as crisp, witty and hilarious as ever and the characters are vivid and compelling.

This hardcover 25th Anniversary Edition of this popular book is a welcome gift from Ballantine Books. Although the movie made from the book starring Robin Wright as Buttercup, Cary Elwes as Westley and Mandy Patinkin as Inigo, was excellent, it can never quite match the experience of reading Goldman's wonderful prose. Fantasy lovers should rush out to buy this wonderful new edition, which includes an excerpt of the thrilling sequel, entitled Buttercup's Baby.

The Death of the Necromancer by Martha Wells

Eos, July 1998.
Hardcover, 359 pages.
ISBN: 0380973340.
Ordering information:

Cover of The Death of the Necromancer
by Martha Wells In the magical kingdom of Ile Rien, which resembles 19th century Paris in many ways, Nicholas Valiarde leads a dual life. By day, he is a respected nobleman; by night, he is the notorious thief Donatien whose legendary jewel thefts are helping him finance his plot for revenge against the evil Count Montesq. Montesq was responsible for the death of Valiarde's beloved uncle by having the uncle falsely accused and convicted of the crime of necromancy, in which sorcerers use the dead for evil purposes. One night, while relieving an obnoxious aristocrat of some gold, he runs into a terrible monster under the city who is clearly the work of a necromancer. Suddenly, Nicholas and his friends' lives are in great danger as it appears a long-dead sorcerer has somehow returned and seems intent on destroying Nicholas in the most grisly way possible. Nicholas must stop the terrible evil that is poised over the city with the help of his friends: the beautiful actress Madeline, the brave guard Reynard, the brilliant sorcerer Aristide and a motley crew of former street criminals loyal to Valiarde. The search for this evil power will lead the band of friends from the twisted labyrinths deep below the city to the Queen's castle, in an adventure which will test all of their skills and loyalty and cause them to team up with their greatest enemy for the greater good.

Martha Wells has crafted a spellbinding novel with elements of fantasy, horror and mystery. The city of Ile-Rien is absolutely fascinating, bringing to mind the London of Sherlock Holmes and the gaslight era in Paris. The atmosphere is dark with flashes of humor, and the characters are complex and alive. A chilling and memorable tale.

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