Thursday, August 11, 2011

Book Review: The Princess's Bride by KT Grant

The Princess's Bride
by KT Grant
I bought a Kindle a couple of weeks ago, so I promptly downloaded a handful of books to review. [Sidenote: I love my Kindle, it's worth every penny. I mean cent. I took it travelling and now I use it in my lunch break instead of having to carry actual books around. And I can even check if I have new emails, though typing on it is a pain].

Ahem. Back to the reviews. The first book I read was The Princess's Bride by KT Grant, because I've been terribly curious about it (I love the original The Princess Bride, both the book and the film).

Tragically, it wasn't worth it. as I should have guessed from the bad grammar of the title (it should simply by The Princess' Bride) A short story at about 200 pages, it has just enough references to the original story (dialogue, very rough storyline, characters) to be classified as bad fanfiction. Add in a Pirates of the Carribean-Port Royale style setting, villain, and pirate vs. navy dynamic, and it's a crossover fanfiction that from then on tries to be different enough not to infringe on copyright.

The Princess Bride: S. Morgenstern's Classic Tale <br>of True Love and High Adventure
The Princess Bride:
S. Morgenstern's Classic Tale
of True Love and High Adventure

by William Goldman
Although it was entertaining, in an 'oh no, they didn't' way, and as an example of what not to write. If you're looking for some really mindless sex-with-true-love, good-scary pirates and a really mean bad guy... you probably still want to skip this, but if that's what you're expecting, it's not too bad.

We have our actual princess-in-exile, Daisy (rather than Buttercup), in Flaundia (not Florin) and our farmgirl Chelsey (sounds like Westley) who says 'whatever you desire' (rather than 'As you wish'... doesn't quite roll of the tongue the same way, does it?) and explicitly seduces young Daisy several times. They get caught naked in the stables (inevitably), all strawberry-tart-covered by her father and Chelsey is exiled away. This is mostly a period of rather repetitive and graphic sexual encounters and not much story.
Pirates Of The Carribean 3: Norrington with Pistol
James Norrington

Cue period of Daisy moping, a complete lack of sex, and a courtship and arranged marriage to Lord Humphrey (a.k.a. Humperdinck *sigh* who owns a fleet of ships and brings in the PotC element which strongly mimics Elizabeth Swann's courtship by James Norrington of the Royal Navy, who later tries to rescue her from the nasty pirates etcetera etcetera). This bit actually works pretty well, setting up the story for Chelsey to come back and want Daisy.

But wait. It turns out that Humphrey is actually Incredibly Over The Top Bad. And I do mean over the top - in a handful of pages following his point of view, we get his evil plots concerning Daisy, her person and her inheritance shoved down our throats, along with the fact that Humphrey is a cad, a rapist and a sadist and that he has a mutual Vendetta against a certain pirate who keeps attacking his ships. It ends with him requesting a fourteen year old servant to be sent to him for 'relaxation'... *facepalm*

And of course, we know who that pirate is... This is where the story gets really wince inducing.
Neca Princess Bride Dread Pirate Roberts 7" Action Figure
Dread Pirate Roberts Action Figure
From here, Chelsey (or 'Captain Dread', who dresses exactly like the Dread Pirate Roberts) plans to kidnap Humphrey's bride in order to embarrass him, Chelsey is kidnapped, sex and reunion ensues, Humphrey pursues (planning for both women to be raped senseless, of course, and Daisy's brother murdered) and a rather ineffectual seabattle and duel follow and happily ever after.

Along the way we get two very good moments, and a steady stream of anomalies, such as a ship with a cast iron hull (what time period is this again?), seven masts (how BIG is this ship?) and a terrifying four cannon a side ( not a big ship then?), casual morning coffee, fluffy white bath towels, a sabre casually leaning in the Captain's wardrobe (a, it's a weapon, not a fashion accessory, and b, it's supposed to be a rapier, not a sabre! THIS is the Dread Pirate Roberts' sword!) and finally, sharks chewing on organs. Sharks cannot chew. It's why they tend to bite entire legs off before spitting people out again.

 The duel between Chelsey and Humphreys was a disaster - they faced off, with lots of fanfare about how legendary this would be, and within two exchanges, Chelsey is panicking and cheats to cut his throat. Then he stumbles around a bit and is grotesquely torn to bits by sharks.

The chemistry between the two leads was nonexistent and most of the sex was highly repetitive. The words of story itself swung between romantic historical fantasy and excessively crude language.

My two favourite bits were between Chelsey and Daisy, after they were on the ship together and trying to sort themselves out.

First, a masked Chelsey raped a tied up Daisy, BDSM-style, and Daisy actually maintained that it was rape, for several entire pages (rather than simply being utterly swayed by her 'greater sexual experience' as a sign that they were meant to be together - which, frankly, I felt was a good way to describe their entire relationship - and falling into Chelsey's arms forever).

Secondly, when Chelsey tells Daisy that (to paraphrase the original book) whenever she said 'whatever you desire' she really meant 'I love you', Daisy asks her how on earth she was supposed to know that? That one page actually made me laugh.

The Princess Bride: S Morgenstern's Classic Tale of True Love and High AdventureMost of the good lines of dialogue (the few there are) are taken directly from the original book (or film - somehow I doubt the author ever read the book) and often don't make that much sense in context. And don't get me started on the run on sentences that read as if the author was given five commas and told to make them last for the whole book but at least there weren't typos.

Only download this story if you are really desperate for lesbian pirate-flavoured smut, where the girls are guaranteed to end up together. The original Princess Bride is a far, far better story, and the film is brilliant. The fanfiction element of this story is questionable on copyright grounds, and the poor parody ruins the plot for actual fans. The sex is unrealistic (one Amazon reviewer suspects the author is a man! She's not - but a glance over her biography shows mostly torrid heterosexual romances of the Mills & Boon kind... only, you know, with dirty words and actual sex). Some readers have apparently enjoyed the story and there are some good scenes in there... but it could have been so much better.

If nothing else, it almost inspired me to write my own version (I'm too lazy - but if you know a writer who needs the extra motivation of reading a series of butchered plot points, then this is perfect. Just don't tell them I suggested that).

Oh yeah, it ends with First Mate Martin making eyes at Daisy's brother Thomas, setting everything up for a gay hunk of loving' sequel called The Prince's Groom. Excuse me while I go headdesk somewhere away from the keyboard.

Only get this if you are desperate and have low standards. Or if you want to pass it to unsuspecting friends (I tried bits on two friends and both of them had to stop and ask if it was meant to be serious. And then went into 'head desk'ing mode).

(An update: apparently the publisher, Ravenous Romance, publishes 'straight women’s erotic romance lesbian fantasies'. This explains a lot. If you can tell the difference between F/F and lesbian... well, this is definitely the former. If you're wanting that, it's probably okay. If you're expecting lesbian fiction, prepare to be disappointed).

A Pirate's HeartFor good lesbian pirate romance and adventure, check out these books!

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