****The Prisoner of Zenda
Rupert of Hentzau
by Anthony Hope
Reviewed July 29, 2003.
Penguin Books, 2000. First published in 1894 and 1898.
Available in one volume on Amazon.com for $7.95.
The Prisoner of Zenda
is available at Sembach Library (F
A Sonderbooks’ Stand-out of 2003:
#2, Mystery and Adventure
Here’s more good, old-fashioned fun. The Prisoner of
reminds me of the modern movie Dave,
making me wonder
if that’s where they got the basic idea for Dave.
Rudolf Rassendyll’s red hair reminds his family of the old scandal
about his great-grandmother and a prince of the Elphbergs, the red-haired
ruling family of the country of Ruritania. A new king is about
to be crowned in Ruritania, and Rassendyll decides to go see the coronation.
On the eve of the coronation, Rassendyll happens to meet the king
and they discover that the two of them have an uncanny resemblance.
The king is delighted to find this unexpected cousin and asks Rassendyll
to celebrate with him. They have a wild evening, the king finishing
with a special bottle of wine from his half-brother Duke Michael.
The next morning, the king is still sound asleep, obviously drugged.
His loyal advisors are convinced that if he doesn’t show up for the coronation,
the people will crown Black Michael in his place, since the Duke is
much more popular. They convince Rassendyll to take the place of
the king and keep his throne warm for him.
What follows is a delightful story of plots and counterplots.
Duke Michael knows Rudolf is an impostor, but can’t denounce him.
Then there’s the complication of Princess Flavia. She’s second
in line for the throne, and the king needs to marry her to establish himself
on the throne. The faster he wins her heart, the happier the people
Rupert of Hentzau
is the sequel to The Prisoner of Zenda,
taking place a few years later. With them both in the same
book, I found I couldn’t stop after finishing the first, and kept right
on reading. Rupert of Hentzau
isn't quite as good
as The Prisoner of Zenda
, but it does tie up loose ends more satisfactorily,
so the story doesn’t feel completely finished until you’ve read them both.
Many thanks to my friend Leah for loaning me this book.
I’ve had it for months, but didn’t get around to it because of all the
library books beckoning to me. When I finally did get started,
after we got home from Scotland, I found I couldn’t put it down until I’d
finished. Isn’t it true that one of the most wonderful aspects of
vacation is having the luxury to spend a morning reading? Now I want
to find one of the old movies made from the story.
Copyright © 2003 Sondra
Eklund. All rights