BOOK REVIEW. THE PRINCESS BRIDE.

Here I am again, I read another book. This is my second time reading The Princess Bride. Revisiting a good book is like reminiscing with an old friend. You go over experiences you loved, and you learn new things.

 

The Princess Bride

S. Morgenstern’s

Classic Tale of True Love

and High Adventure.

This is a book that wants to be read. Right there in the title: True Love and High Adventure. What’s better than that?

And it delivers.

From swashbuckling sword-fights to daring escapes, from life to almost-death, from the zoo of death to the Princes castle, this book has heart and style in the way that not many books have.

It’s hilarious and heartwarming. A tale of true love in it’s purest form, told by a man who still want’s to believe that true love exists in his world.

While True Love may be the focus of this story, it’s not the theme. The theme of Princess Bride is pain. Specifically, life is pain.

That doesn’t sound like a heart warming or uplifting subject, it’s not, but in the pen of William Goldman the harshness of this theme is told with a smiling face and laughing lips. He tells the truth, too. Life is pain. In life, we all have to endure pain along with the joy and happiness. Pain is huge part of life. Without it, we wouldn’t really be alive.

This fact is exemplified in the fantastic characters in this story. Inigo, who commits his life to revenge after the pain of losing his father. Fezzik, who while strong and undefeatable, deals with the pain of not really getting to think for himself. Buttercup, the most beautiful girl in the world, who has the pain of having her only true love torn from her again and again.

Then there’s Westley. Westley almost seems as if he’s immune to the pain of the heart. He has endless hope and truly believes that love conquers all. He then experiences the worst pain of all.

This book may sound like a bit of a downer. It’s not. It shows how through pain, we all become better. And striving to conquer pain, we reach higher and better things. Like love.

This book shows that even though life is pain; it’s worth living.

This book is a blast to read. It will constantly have you laughing, and maybe even bring a tear to your eye.

I highly recommend it.

If you’re looking for a fantasy novel that breaks the fourth wall a lot and has you laughing the whole way through. Look no further. If you have a couple days and want to go HAM on a book. Go buy this right now.

10/10.

Would read a third time.

Photo by Simson Petrol on Unsplash

Drifting: The Pillar (5)

Read part 4 here Drifting: Glass. (4)

I don’t know why I kept going. I was so close now. The sky was eclipsed by a new tidal wave after every strike of the drum. At the top of every swell I looked towards the source of the sound. Clouds. I only ever saw clouds and wind and waves.

My ship maintained through every wave, but with every shattering blow of the drum I lost some courage. The sky was dark and frightening. Clouds were encroaching everywhere; fastening to my clothes and clinging around the ship. Every time I rose above the swell of an enormous tidal wave, a bigger one was always behind it. I was a spec of dust that floated atop the granite of a colossus.

Every time I rose to the top of a wave I could only see fog and clouds. These waves brought me higher than any bird could fly.

The air was weak in my lungs. It made me gasp.

Closer and closer I came to the source of the sound. I was starting to think that it was a spirit. Some invisible force beneath the waves. . . . Once the fog cleared a bit, however, I finally saw it.

There was an island far off in the distance. It was as round as an eye, surrounded by sand and rocks and gravel. Trees grew inland with no order or reason. Some were tall and old and gaunt. Some were just beginning to take root; eager and strong. A pillar rose out of the island. From the very center of the eye. It was black as darkness itself and cast no shadow. It was as if the sun avoided it, for fear that the pillar would steal it’s light. It was taller than the height of the greatest tidal wave, and continued on well above the sky itself; reaching into the stars.

I knew immediately: This is where the hammer falls.

Far above, where the sky touches the earth, the top of the pillar could be seen. As I breached the top of the highest wave, I could see it. At the top of the pillar was a massive hammer. It floated with no handle. It was a massive bulk of stone; floating above the pillar. With every strike the earth shook, and a shock wave ripped through the air and the waves exploded again and again.

The pillar was being driven into the earth like a stake. It must have been a microscopic amount, thinner than a hair. The hammer was unrelenting nonetheless. It struck with excruciating tempo. And with every strike the earth gave way a bit more. Cracks had already formed as the pillar pushed deeper and deeper. Diamond and coal, gold and bedrock, all was the same to the pillar. It broke it. It melted it. The Pillar felt nothing. The pillar was harder.

Suddenly the fear hit me. The darkness enveloped me like a sudden fog. The pillar was all I saw. The hammer rose and fell, and with every thud it pierced my heart. I was standing. Now kneeling. Now on the floor of the boat. I thrashed and hid my face, yet the darkness still cradled me with it’s menacing grip. The pillar was stamped onto my eyelids. Every blink a new strike. Every pound of my heart was a pound of the hammer.

The boat turned with alacrity. We zoomed down the cliffs of a wave with such speed I nearly rose in the air. The rigging of the boat wrapped around me as if to brace me from the force of our escape. The air returned slowly to my lungs, and the darkness slowly receded as we sped away from the island.

I can see it when I close my eyes. The darkness. The hammer.

My pulse will forever remind me of the stake that pierced the heart of the earth.

We sailed on.

Photo by Zoltan Tasi on Unsplash

Drifting: Glass. (4)

Read part 3 here: Drifting: A Gift. (3)

The sea was a gentle rising valley. My ship was a slender invader, a feather, running faster than a gazelle. It never slowed. Even among the giant sweeping swells of the ocean. Even when the wind died to a whisper. The valley would swell to form mountains as far reaching as the sky, yet I did not fear the ocean. We simply sped across it, up and over, down and through. Never slowing. Home was calling, and I could feel it.

A few days had passed since I left the giant forest. It had pained me to leave, but I knew that it was not my place. I wondered if the Father Tree would think of me. In the eons he has existed I would be as insignificant as a blade of grass in this valley of water. Yet, I hoped he would remember me. I would remember him.

Upon the peak of the highest mountain, I saw nothing. Nothing but sea. My hopes often would rise and fall just as the waves of the sea. It was mid-day when I had reached the top of the oceans swell. Then I started my decent once again. The sun was hot against my back as I shot down the water ramp. The ship softly burrowed against the soft water. Cheerfully speeding down the massive ravine. I grasped the boat eagerly, and stared down with no fear as the mountain of water flew past.

With a yell, we reached the bottom of the great mountain. That was when the ocean flattened out again. No longer was I sailing through a valley, now it was a window. Wherever I looked down in the water I saw a world of ancient shifting darkness. The water was clear, clearer than air itself. Yet as far as I could see, I only saw one thing, the deep abyss.

We barely caused a ripple in the glass as we continued on. The sun was now cool. It settled behind my back. My vision began to blur as the sky darkened. I still had the hope that on the horizon something would appear. I could feel the sleep on me, and after hours of staring into nothing, I submitted to it.

Waking, staring, sleeping. I brought myself to the front of the boat every day to peer ahead, and search for something new; some sign of land. The boat continued to cut through the still water. Days on days nothing changed. No more sweeping vistas, no more giant mountains. Only glass. At first I was glad for it. The sky was clear and the wind was a brushing breeze. Over time, though, the glass cut into my mind. It seemed that the ocean had lost it’s fierceness. I no longer felt like a strong sailor; skating across the sea with careful respect. I now felt like a trespasser: A man who was not welcome to even see anger or ferocity. Only a mask of glass, with nothing but darkness below.

More days would pass. More and more glass. I would talk to the sea, with no response. I would sometimes throw pieces of wood from the boat, or leftover meals into it, to attempt to get some kind of response. Nothing.

I had finally reached despair. I lost my will to steer the ship, and we simply stopped in the water. The sun just continued on. Pressing forward cheerfully as always; above the glass, below the glass. And soon, everything was glass. I crept to the front of the ship, as I did every day. I peered off across the glass. My face was turning to glass; just like the sea.

Nothing, more nothing. Always nothing. Never changing. Glass. Glass. Glass. I peered down at the frozen water for hours. Glass. Days. Glass. My heart became a stone, and I sank to my bed day after day.

After nearly a month, I was still a slave to hope. I would crawl out of my bed every morning still. I was not looking for land anymore. I was just looking for the glass to change. My mind was broken. My heart was a rock, but the hope; the terrible hope; brought me back to the glass.

A microscopic ripple.

Did I imagine it? Was it there? Did my mind finally betray me? Was I hallucinating? My hope was callused. It did not want to start dripping again.

Another ripple. Barely visible. It was thinner than a slice of paper, but I saw it. Again and again.

The hope began to flow. I willed the sails to go forward full bore. On wards toward the ripple. It was getting stronger now. It was a pulse. The life of the ocean was returning.

The ripple was now turning to a rhythmic drum. The ocean’s valley’s were stronger than ever. I screamed with delight as we plunged down the rolling waves, only to rise again and again. They only continued to get stronger.

There was no storm, only the ripple. My delight soon turned to curiosity. The ripple was only strengthening, yet there wasn’t a cloud in sight and the wind was as light and pleasant as always. My curiosity continued to grow, until finally something new happened.

I heard the cause of the ripple. It wasn’t the ocean waking up. It wasn’t life returning to the glass. It was a quiet drum. A barking, groaning, violent yet distant drum. It was shaking the very earth. Once I first heard it, it only got stronger. I was sailing towards it fast. Before the day was over I heard nothing but the shaking booming drum. I could plug my ears and hum a loud tune, but every ripple brought a new beat of the drum with it. Louder and louder until it felt like God himself was striking the earth over and over again with a hammer. It shook my bones and thrashed my eardrums. All while the pulse of the sea grow to monstrous size.

Little did I know: I would not see God, but I would see the hammer.

Photo by Matthew Clark on Unsplash

Drifting: A Gift. (3)

(Third Part, read part 2 Here.)

I climbed barefoot. The bark slid gently beneath my feet and scratched my calloused toes. I lifted myself eagerly from branch to branch; gliding up to the top of the massive tree. I felt no fear of falling. The tree was holding me just as much as I held it. The thought comforted me as I climbed. I was very high now, where the branches became thin and flimsy. I rested there and gazed out towards the sea. I was looking for a sign. A sign that someone was looking for me, that maybe I would be found. I had done so every day for the past two weeks since arriving on the island. I saw nothing.

My routine on the island was a simple one. I scavenged for food and explored. I survived solely on the fruit of the trees and the water from the creeks. There were no animals on the island. None that I could see. It was always silence, yet this did not frighten me. The trees kept me company. Their massive branches tilted towards the sun during the day, and continually gave me shade. I journeyed to the Father Tree’s base at least once a day to speak to him. I felt that he enjoyed the respect I gave him, and I felt like it was necessary. It was his island, and I was his guest.

After continually hoping someone would come to my rescue, and seeing that none had come, I had finally made the decision to leave. The Father Tree seemed to know before I even told him. There was sadness in the air, but also contentment. When I finally turned my back on the Father Tree for which I knew was the last time, a great hope welled up in my soul.

I strode back to the beach with determination in my veins. Once I caught sight of the shore, however, it melted to despair. My little lifeboat was gone. Taken away by the rising tides. Never to be seen again. I was stranded. The trees still whispered happily to each other. I bitterly thought they were mocking my distress. I kicked a rock and bit my lip as my toe surged with pain. I yelled and sat on the beach hard. I covered my red face as I cried. My adventure had just begun and I was already lost forever, with no hope of return.

The Father Tree must have heard my cries. The trees were not mocking me, but joyfully comforting me. I just didn’t see it. The roots were growing before my very eyes close to the edge of the beach. They erupted from the ground with fury and force. They jutted from every direction and interlocked together, pulsing and fusing in fierce beauty. I could see it forming. The hull sharpening to a point, the wood beginning to glisten as if it had been oiled ten times over. It was not plank and nail, but root and thorn. Once the boat was fully formed it was raised above my head, the keel gently brushing against my hair. It was laid gently in the water, with a powerful mast with great green flowing sails. I hopped inside and ran my hand over them, softer than silk. I could see the knots of age within the boat, a history only other trees could appreciate. It was brand new, yet I knew it was made from a tree much older than me; whose spirit was still happily residing inside it.

Inside the boat there was a small room, lit by the same orange flowers from the island. It had casks of water and fruit growing on the inside. There was a small cot in the corner with fresh green sheets, and a small desk with a pen and ink.

Back on the deck another wave of panic hit me. I don’t know how to sail this, I thought, but as if in response to my sudden frustration the sails unfurled, and the ship pointed itself towards the open sea. I turned the rudder and the boat turned exactly where I wanted to go.

The only question was, where did I want to go?

Home I thought, wherever that is.

I turned back thankfully and gazed at  the mysterious island. Dusk was settling in, and the island was beginning to light up, as if saying goodbye. The Father Tree was a beacon of life, shining brighter than all others. I turned away with tears stinging my eyes.

The wind picked up in the sails as I glided away from the island. Heading west.

Photo by Johannes Plenio on Unsplash

Drifting: The Forest (2)

(Read Part 1 Here. )

The stranger said nothing, but I could see he had much to say. He was a proud island. Smooth rolling hills gave way to fierce and rigid mountain ranges. The forest was mighty and ever present. The trees were green and smooth, with the smallest tree being taller than any building. Their branches extended far beyond their bodies, with flower buds sprouting everywhere, yet they were closed, as if they slept while the sun was shining.

From where I was standing, I could see where the widest and tallest tree stood. It was a Goliath, ever watching the island. From wherever I stood, I could look up and see him, gazing down at me; judging my every move; seeking to understand. I only dared to look up a few times. I felt insignificant. I was insignificant.

The densest and most wild part of the forest stemmed out from that one magnificent tree. He was the father of this brooding island. His children dominated his flanks, and their seed spread to the rest of the island. They all stood, proud like their father. Ever watching, but swaying in the wind, while the Father Tree never wavered. While they were rooted in the island, he was rooted far below. The island was his, it was grafted to him at the beginning of the age.

I was a ghost in a forgotten land. I hovered from the lifeboat to the sand, and from the sand to the forest. The sun was climbing already; I had not noticed. The trees were bathing in it’s light, and I bathed in the shade.

I had all but forgotten my dire needs in the shock of my present discovery, but now the thirst clawed at my throat again. I could not fathom that this threatening and strange place could be my savior and solitude. At once, though, my needs screamed all the louder, and I heard a faint sound: A stream.

At once I fell into the stream and opened my mouth to drink. I gulped it into my stomach till I could barely breath. Even then my body was tempted to forgo breath, and inhale the sweet cold water; just to taste more on my broken and bleeding lips. . . I stood. Alive.

The trees swayed. The wind no longer furiously shook their limbs, but still lightly caressed them. I walked deeper into the forest. The creaking trunks had made some space for each other, and for travelers to walk beneath their shade. Their roots ate the soil hungrily, and drove deep into the hardened ground. I had to climb over some and jump back to the dirt.

Deeper and deeper I went. My body fueled by nothing but an ever present desire to discover. To get to know this strange land, this forest of whispers. The Father Tree could be seen in the spaces between the fingers of the trees. He judged me.

There were fruits hanging from the vines of the ancient trees. Growing so far down from the branches that you did not need to climb. They were soft as plums, with a fuzzy skin. When I bit down I was surprised and overwhelmed by the lack of juice. It was sweet and creamy, like a custard. I grabbed two more and greedily devoured them.

I walked on. The silence within the trees assaulted my senses. Nothing but the slight brush of wind along the tree branches, and the soft tread of my feet against the soil. The birds were quiet today, or there were no birds at all. Dawn had come and gone and they did not sing a cheerful tune. No sound of the world waking up, for this world was always asleep.

No man had walked this land for a long time. My footsteps would remind the trees of a long forgotten age. I could not speak, I could not yell for someone. The silence had drowned out my voice.

I stopped to rest from walking, for I had been walking for a long time. I was now approaching the foot of the Father Tree. He was frowning down at me now; intimidating me with his massive presence. I could hear my heart-beat amidst the silence; screaming for something other than the sound of my own body, my own feet, and my own trembling uncertainty.

I started my long trek around the Father Tree. As I stood near him, I could feel his ever deepening roots searching the lowest parts of the world. The tree was taller than the sky itself. Perhaps he wanted to meet the stars.

As the sky darkened, I was still not passed the tree. I wondered if anything lay beyond it, or if this was the end of the earth, and the Father Tree blocked the way to heaven itself. My wondering was false, though, as finally when night was deepening, and the stars were again greeting me; the father tree was at my back.

I could hardly see the stars above me, as they were blocked by thousands of gently rocking branches. Yet, as darkness had completely shrouded me, and I was fumbling in the dark, the blossoms on every tree opened in a sudden flourish. Bright green light erupted from every petal. They had become shards of glass, reflecting the sun they had absorbed during the day.

As my eyes adjusted, I gazed back at the Father Tree. His blossoms were brightest of all. His proud and powerful demeanor gave way to a bright and cheerful warmth. They looked up to the stars, and they were children of the stars.

I continued, the blossoms lighting my path. I don’t know what I sought, but my spirit led me on. Survival was no longer my concern; curiosity was in my heart. . . I followed the trees, and they led me to a small clearing, and when I saw where they led me, I gasped in surprise. There was a house.

Small and bright it stood. It was round as a trunk of a tree, with bright orange petals shining all around it. This house was not built by a man, but grown out of the ground. It was as much a tree as the trees around me, and it was alive just as they were. There was no door, but a thick sheet of vines covered the entry way. I parted them and stepped inside. I was not greeted by anyone. There was no fire, yet the house was warm and welcoming. The same orange petals bloomed along the top and sides of the inside of the tree-house. I could see a table and chairs, with a cot in the corner. The same creamy fruit was growing in patches near the walls. Casks of water were stacked near the food. They were of the same craft as the house around me; they were grown straight out of the ground. They were sealed completely, with no cork. I would have to prick them open with a knife or a rock, which I was loath to do, as they seemed just as alive as everything else around me.

I wondered if I was invading some hermits home, the lord of this wild and magical forest. Yet I did not think so. This house did not belong to anyone. It was a gift to lost souls. A place to rest, and carry on.

I thanked The Father Tree, and drifted to a peaceful sleep.

Photo by zhang kaiyv on Unsplash

Drifting: My Friends (1)

I awoke with the sea breathing heavily on me. “Wake up” it said. I don’t know why. The stars were still brightly weighing the sky, scattered like dust. I lay on my back. All the better to view the sky rotating around me. My arms hung limply at my sides, their strength sapped from rowing. They no longer worked for me, they decided the work was meaningless. I told them “row to safety” but in the vast ocean, safety doesn’t exist. So instead of work, they rest. They accepted their fate, and so have I. I sobbed weakly. My tears would mingle with the salt of the ocean. I could taste them on my lips.

The water lapped curiously around the boat. I ignored it. I was surrounded by the shell of the lifeboat. My only window into the world was directly in front of me, the sky. As small as I felt, i only had to close my eyes and the sky would be gone. Powerless as I was, I could ignore the sky, just as I ignored the waves.

While the hunger had left me, the thirst had pressed on. I only hoped the thirst would leave me as well. It was a selfish comforter. It nagged at my stomach and dried my mouth. The furious thirst only wanted to be quenched, yet I could not obliged it, so it punished me. Powerless, I drift, and I want.

I could hear myself murmuring. Murmuring to my friend the sky, to my grudging companion the sea, to the fear gripping my soul. I asked for forgiveness, I whispered for help, my reply was the wind, and the stars melting into the horizon. I told them farewell, I hoped they’d return.

Steeped in bitterness I awaited the rising sun. His bright gladness only made me suffer more. The heat of the day blistered my lips. I could not stare up any longer, I had to face the sea, or face down and cower before my rivals.

The sun is honest, it does not play favorites. The sun will shine no matter what, and it does not listen to your prayers for shade or respite. It’s responsibilities are larger than your whining. It needs to grow, to nurture the land, to give life to all before it has to travel to other lands, to spread its warmth again. The sun doesn’t mind if you seek shelter, but it cannot hide itself from you. The sea is a different matter.

The sea is fickle. It plays on your desires, it hears your prayers. It sweeps you up in its arms, and makes you its friend, only to dash you against the rocks. It will swallow you whole after gently rocking you to sleep. One day it will rush you to safety, the next it will bar you from returning home, and laugh as it glides you to uncertain oceans. . .  Right now in the calm, smooth ocean, the sea and I were friends. I would gently slide my hands into the water, and feel the cool liquid against my sun-baked skin. Water would continue to brush the side of my boat warmly. Threatening to jump right in and sink me, but today it showed restraint; even playfulness.

I strained my eyes to see in the distance, which I did often during the days. Always to be disappointed with the same: Ocean, as far as I could see in every direction. My strength to hope dwindled every day; yet not matter what, the light where the sky and the ocean touched always gave me the slightest brimming hope.

My heat stricken body could take no more, I drifted into a broken and exhausted sleep. Only to be awoken again in the night, by my rival, the sea, and my friend the sky, greeting me, “Goodnight” it said.

“Goodnight” I said, and after four days and four nights of drifting, I thought I would sleep a bit longer this time, perhaps for all eternity.

The sea had different plans. I awoke again, after a long time, to a sound I had not heard in a long, long time: The breaking of waves against the sand.

“Hello” I said to the stranger.