In case you haven’t heard, one of my favorite genres is Fantasy & Adventure. I haven’t been able to read anything fantastical or adventurous lately, but it just so happens that two of my favorite fantasy adventure novels have also been made into movies. I’ve been watching and reading these two since high school, and I expect I’ll continue to enjoy them in the decades ahead.
One of my favorites is The Princess Bride: S. Morgenstern’s Classic Tale of True Love and High Adventure by William Goldman (DB58817 / BR20973). Its two main characters are Buttercup and Westley. At the story’s start Westley is merely the “farm boy” that works around the farm, and Buttercup delights in giving him chores. No matter what she tells him to do, Westley’s only response is, “As you wish.” But soon Buttercup realizes that what he is really saying is, “I love you.” After the two declare their love is true love, Westley leaves to seek his fortune so that they can marry. Unfortunately, his ship is overtaken by the infamous Dread Pirate Roberts, who is said to kill rather than take any prisoners. Buttercup believes Westley to be dead, and proclaims that she will never love again.
The story that follows includes everything from an evil prince, to a six-fingered man, sword fighting, a fire swamp, torture, a man who deals miracles, a fake wedding, a castle siege, and, of course, (spoiler alert) the reunion of Buttercup and Westley. The Princess Bride is a tale replete with adventure, humor, suspense, wit, and romance. I think it is because of all its components that I can enjoy the story so many times and never get bored.
My other all-time favorite is The Neverending Story by Michael Ende (DB20209). Like The Princess Bride, The Neverending Story has a variety of characters and plot lines that hold my attention even though I know how it ends (or, if you’re familiar with the story, never really ever ends at all).
The main character of The Neverending Story is Bastian. He is a bookish boy who is bullied by his classmates and one day, in an attempt to hide from them, stumbles into a dusty bookshop. It is there that he discovers and absconds with an antique-looking book entitled The Neverending Story. When Bastian reads it he literally gets pulled into the story, meeting the characters, traversing the landscape, and becoming the hero. This tale contains a dying childlike empress, a boy hero, rock giants, a racing snail, the Swamp of Sadness, a flying luck dragon, a deadly oracle, a wolfish beast called the Gmork, and a beautiful land being destroyed by The Nothing. Unlike The Princess Bride, The Neverending Story doesn’t mix much humor in with its adventure. Instead there is wonder, despair, and hope.
Though these tales are considered fantasy adventure, they are distinctively different. I invite you to try them both.