December 20, 2006 1:19 PM   Subscribe

Is there another book like "The Princess Bride"?

I've tried using tool such as What Should I read Next and Whichbook but they don't seem to turn up anything that is close enough. At least, from reading the synopses.

I'm looking for humour/fantasy/romance with witty one liners and a memorable story.
posted by eurasian to Writing & Language (43 answers total) 39 users marked this as a favorite
Bridge of Birds by Barry Hughart. A humorous fable set in a China That Never Was.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 1:21 PM on December 20, 2006 [1 favorite]

I've heard some compare Neil Gaiman's Stardust to "The Princess Bride". I don't really see it, but it was a great book none the less.
posted by beowulf573 at 1:23 PM on December 20, 2006

I've only seen the movie version of "Brincess Pride", so on that fairly slim foundation I'd recommend "The Neverending Story" by Michael Ende.
posted by AwkwardPause at 1:31 PM on December 20, 2006

There is nothing even comparable to The Princess Bride. That said, I think I know a couple you might like, I just can't remember right now. I'll have to check at home. Once they're unpacked.
posted by inigo2 at 1:39 PM on December 20, 2006

"Neverending Story" is nothing at all like "Princess Bride". If you're looking for something with the kind of wit that was exhibited in "Princess Bride", what you need is the Discworld books by Terry Prachett. Obviously not identical, but similar.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 1:39 PM on December 20, 2006

Response by poster: Yes, I love "The Never Ending Story" as well as all of Pratchett's stuff. "The Princess Bride" is a slightly different beast, IMHO. It's something my wife would actually read. Something that many non-fantasy readers would read, and love.
posted by eurasian at 1:43 PM on December 20, 2006

The conceit in the book of "Princess Bride" is that it's a digest of an older, much longer book written by some obscure (fictional) author. I haven't ever run into anything like that anywhere else. So the actual story is interspersed with author comments. In the movie they dealt with that aspect of it using the old man and the boy.

The movie of "Neverending Story" was actually a lot better than the book. The movie was a lot more charming, and it's based on the first half or so of the book. The second half, the part they left out, is really a lot less interesting, and the whole book is actually a bit insipid -- or so I found it. And it has an unpleasant twist ending.

As to the Discworld books, what they would offer which is similar to Princess Bride is the dry wit and the colorful offbeat characterization.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 1:53 PM on December 20, 2006

Try "Good Omens or The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch" by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett. Its a really good read.
posted by ShawnString at 1:56 PM on December 20, 2006

I haven't read it, but the Amazon review of Bridge of Birds compares The Last Unicorn to Bridge of Birds and The Princess Bride.

The Name of the Rose uses conceit that's similar to The Princess Bride's (here's an old book I found in the shop), but it's not a fantasy book or especially witty.
posted by kirkaracha at 2:02 PM on December 20, 2006

Stardust by Neil Gaiman might be a good choce, and I'll second kirkaracha's recommendation of "The Last Unicorn".
posted by jferg at 2:06 PM on December 20, 2006

You can try Steven Brust - the Jhereg series - Jhereg, Teckla, Taltos, Phoenix, Athyra, Orca, etc.

Actually, The Phoenix Guards and Five Hundred Years After might be even better for you. There is even the conceit of another writing the books - i.e., these books are allegedly written by the biographer Paarfi, as a historical account of events. Yes, try those two, you'll like them.
posted by jellicle at 2:06 PM on December 20, 2006

Second Good Omens. I've also heard positive things about Goldman's other book The Silent Gondoliers.
posted by junkbox at 2:16 PM on December 20, 2006

Some Discworld books are probably closer than others to what you're looking for. I would rec The Truth and Going Postal if you haven't read Discworld before, and Thief of Time if you know about Susan. There's probably one or two books featuring the Witches that are even closer to The Princess Bride's particular humor/fantasy/romance mix, but I haven't read those yet.

Nth Good Omens.
posted by casarkos at 2:35 PM on December 20, 2006

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke has a metafiction feel that is similar to The Princess Bride, and it has fantasy and romance, but it's not "comedy" humorous. It concerns the re-emergence of magic in England during the Napoleonic Wars, and is written as a history, complete with footnotes. It's an excellent read.
posted by lekvar at 3:26 PM on December 20, 2006 [1 favorite]

Third Bridge of Birds, which I loved but it doesn't have the book-in-a-book conceit. Also, I might recommend Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrel, which has the same feel to it i think.
posted by The Bellman at 3:27 PM on December 20, 2006

On lack of preview, hi lekvar!
posted by The Bellman at 3:27 PM on December 20, 2006

Well, there is The Silent Gondoliers, which William Goldman wrote originally under the name "S. Morgenstern." It's not that much like The Princess Bride in its form or plot, but it is a delightful, well-written book.
posted by cerebus19 at 3:27 PM on December 20, 2006

I'll Nth Good Omens and Bridge of Birds. You may also like Patricia C. Wrede's Enchanted Forest Chronicles. It's children's lit, but it fits your criteria.

LibraryThing suggests some DiscWorld books, Wrede (though not the series I mentioned), and another "S. Morgenstern" book called The Silent Gondoliers. (Note: I haven't read any of these).

On preview, cerebrus beat me to The Silent Gondoliers.
posted by natabat at 3:50 PM on December 20, 2006

Jonathan Strange kicks ass, as people have said above. Not exactly metafiction, but very knowingly, affectionately written. If that makes any sense.
posted by everichon at 4:04 PM on December 20, 2006

For the fantasy/comedy/romance angle, you might try some of Christopher Moore's books like Practical Demonkeeping or The Lust Lizard of Melancholy Cove.
posted by forrest at 4:28 PM on December 20, 2006

This just popped into my head and may not work for you at all but "The Wonderful O" by James Thurber, if you can find a copy, might appear to you.
posted by AmbroseChapel at 4:59 PM on December 20, 2006

I think books by Jasper Fforde are just what you are looking for
posted by TheOtherGuy at 5:15 PM on December 20, 2006

I second the Patricia C. Wrede recommendation up-thread.
Orson Scott Card's "Enchantment", a retelling of 'Sleeping Beauty', might also fit the bill.
posted by of strange foe at 5:38 PM on December 20, 2006

She might like Lois McMaster Bujold's Vorkosigan series.
The main charater is male but there are strong female character too. Lots of smast ass dialogue.
I started with Warriors Apprentice and that got me started on the rest.
posted by BoscosMom at 5:41 PM on December 20, 2006

Closest thing I've ever read was John Barnes's One For The Morning Glory

Not as good as TPB, though.

posted by lockedroomguy at 5:42 PM on December 20, 2006

Allow me to introduce Master Skeeve and Ahaz from Robert Asprin's Myth Adventure series. Throughout the series there are paragraphs of of laugh out loud situations.

Piers Anthony's Xanth novels are excellent reads ... if you enjoy pages of puns, that is.

And, Spider Robinson's Callahan's Crosstime Saloon series are also vignettes I can recommend too.

PS I seriously hope you were able to read The Princess Bride before the movie ruined the reader experience for you. It is so much different the movie producers should have had to put a SPOILER label in the opening credits of the movie!
posted by choragus at 5:52 PM on December 20, 2006

S. Morgenstern is also the fictional author of The Princess Bride.
posted by kirkaracha at 6:52 PM on December 20, 2006

Whenever I think of the Princess Bride, I think of the first book of Gogol's Dead Souls.
posted by milarepa at 7:06 PM on December 20, 2006

"The conceit in the book of "Princess Bride" is that it's a digest of an older, much longer book written by some obscure (fictional) author. I haven't ever run into anything like that anywhere else."

The palimpsest is a pretty common conciet. Don Quixote?

But I assume that what will help the asker more is a nod to the Zelazney and Robert Sheckley series that starts with Bring Me The Head of Prince Charming. The second two books aren't as good, but are still worthwhile. I'm not sure it's AS good as PB, but I really liked PB when I read it in high school, and I'm not sure if it's aged as well as it might.
Anyway, BMTHOPC is a pretty funny chockablock approach to fables under the aegis of a millenial contest between good and evil. And it's a brief, breezy read, so you haven't lost much by checking it out.
posted by klangklangston at 7:40 PM on December 20, 2006

It's about the hundredth time I've recommended it here, but the book that comes to mind for me is The Three Musketeer by Alexandre Dumas. Laugh-out-loud funny, and the historical setting feels quite at home to a fantasy fan. The romance is humorously cynical, realistically portraying the battle of the sexes.
posted by Manjusri at 8:48 PM on December 20, 2006

Oh, I have to nth Jonathan Strange -- it is definitely a book that fantasy readers or fantasy haters can delve into -- along with many things by Gaiman and just about everything by Pratchett.
posted by flibbertigibbet at 9:56 PM on December 20, 2006

Darn it jellicle, I was going to say Steven Brust, but I would recommend To Reign In Hell for an entertaining first read that isn't part of a larger series. Meet Leviathan, Lucifer, Satan, Lilith, Beelzebub, Ariel, Abdiel, Asmodai, Gabriel, Michael, Cherubim and Seraphim, and even Yaweh himself. Learn what really happend in Heaven before the creation of Earth. Hear the true story of the Downfall. With a talking dog and a wise owl who speaks in Iambic Pentameter it has to be amusing.
posted by zengargoyle at 10:19 PM on December 20, 2006

Response by poster: Alrighty, thanks for all the great answers. I'm not sure how to mark the best one answer. I think I'll just have to slowly and carefully go through all the books that seem to be recommended multiple times (or just once emphatically), and remember to come back and mark :)

Just to clarify, although the idea that he was editing a larger piece was... interesting, I can't say I liked that bit. In other words, the entire book without the interuptions with the flashbacks of his grandfather reading it to him and his fictious 'editing' , would have been just as good for me.

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell was fabulous in certain ways (a wet and dreary, well-realized world, a consistent and interesting voice, and it's own brand of humour), not in the ways I think "The Princess Bride" is fabulous. The Mything series, Piers Anthony, and the venerable Pratchett I know about. I've read some Pratchett, and think he's great. But again, a slightly different flavour than what I'm looking for. It's a gentler, absurdist humour with a courageous stab at unabashed romance. Perhaps that's what I'm looking for.

So, the Coles Notes version. Humour, romance, adventure, and solid lines like "never get involved in a land war in Asia".
posted by eurasian at 11:00 PM on December 20, 2006

Do read Steven Brust, then, eurasian, and try Ellen Kushner's book Swordspoint, which is sharper and harder, perhaps, than what you want, but is bitingly funny and charming and wintry and just read it okay? Also, Diane Wynne Jones wrote a knowing book called The Tough Guide to Fantasyland in the form of a glossary of clich├ęs in genre fantasy writing that is truly astonishing, fun to read, and wicked in its depictions of cheap writing.
posted by cgc373 at 2:24 AM on December 21, 2006

Another whole-hearted recommendation for The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle.
posted by hazelshade at 5:01 AM on December 21, 2006

What about the "Myth" books by Robert Aspirin?
posted by chaosscontrol at 7:35 AM on December 21, 2006

Let me add another voice for Bridge of Birds. I believe it's exactly what you're seeking.
posted by jdroth at 8:51 AM on December 21, 2006

Hmmm... I second The Three Musketeer by Alexandre Dumas and add The Count of Monte Cristo. Not as funny, but similar plot lines, i.e. revenge and swordfights.

I must be the only one who didn't like Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell. Thought it was a snoozer.
posted by emd3737 at 8:55 AM on December 21, 2006 [1 favorite]

I must be the only one who didn't like Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell. Thought it was a snoozer.

I prefer to think of it as undestated and subtle.
posted by jdroth at 12:54 PM on December 21, 2006

I'm not sure I can give an adequate reason why, but I think you'd enjoy John Crowley's "Little, Big." It bears re-reading, has a distinctive voice, is rather metafictional.

FWIW, I enjoyed the film of "A Princess Bride" much more than the book, though the book was certainly good.

I'm a bit into Jonathan Strange right now. Not sure how much further I'll go, or at least not how fast...
posted by lhauser at 2:57 PM on December 22, 2006

Mark Helprin's "Freddy And Fredericka" meets at least most of your requirements.
posted by tcskeptic at 9:22 AM on December 25, 2006

Multi-nth the Steven Brust books, particularly The Phoenix Guards and 500 Years After. Humor, romance, adventure, and solid lines. The writing style takes a little getting used to, but is a lot of fun.

Also second Bujold's Miles Vorkosigan books. The humor, romance, and adventure aren't always in the same book in the same amounts, but they are throughout the series. I lent those to a friend who loved fantasy but "didn't read sci-fi" and she tore through 'em.

I personally didn't enjoy Jonathan Strange, though I recognized the literary and well-written quality of the book. More for folks who appreciate the subtle and poetic. I was bored.

Oh, hey, you might like The Lies of Locke Lamora. Good, rollicking read with lots of humor and adventure. Not much in the way of romance, though.
posted by booksherpa at 2:06 PM on December 27, 2006

nthing Enchantment by Orson Scott Card. It is gentler than some of the others and does have genuine romance. It mixes traditional storybook magic with modern life, and throws in some very clever twists. I wouldn't call it a funny book, but parts are quite humorous. Don't be turned off if you've read and disliked (or heard bad things about) Card, this book is unlike his others.
posted by LizardOfDoom at 12:01 AM on January 30, 2007

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