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The Prisoner of Zenda

Anthony Hope

Book Overview: 

The Prisoner of Zenda tells the story of Rudolf Rassendyll, an English gentleman on holiday in Ruritania, a country not a thousand miles from Bavaria. There, by reason of his resemblance to the King of Ruritania he becomes involved in saving the King’s Life and his Throne from the King’s dastardly brother and his allies. Woods, moated castles, pomp, swordplay, gallantry, villainy and a beautiful princess. What story could ask for more?

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .The scene was very brilliant as we passed along the Grand Boulevard and on to the great square where the Royal Palace stood. Here I was in the midst of my devoted adherents. Every house was hung with red and bedecked with flags and mottoes. The streets were lined with raised seats on each side, and I passed along, bowing this way and that, under a shower of cheers, blessings, and waving handkerchiefs. The balconies were full of gaily dressed ladies, who clapped their hands and curtsied and threw their brightest glances at me. A torrent of red roses fell on me; one bloom lodged in my horse's mane, and I took it and stuck it in my coat. The Marshal smiled grimly. I had stolen some glances at his face, but he was too impassive to show me whether his sympathies were with me or not.

"The red rose for the Elphbergs, Marshal," said I gaily, and he nodded.

I have written "gaily," and a strange word it must seem. But the truth is, that I was drunk with excite. . . Read More

Community Reviews

The Prisoner of Zenda is one of those books I've been meaning to read for about twenty years. Over the Thanksgiving holiday I finally took the time to read this classic adventure written by Anthony Hope in 1894.

The Prisoner of Zenda brings the fairy tale of Mark Twain's The Prince and the Pauper...more

I was almost immediately reminded of The 39 Steps when I started this book. Both open with a 1st Person account of the protagonist lacking occupation and being idle just before the action begins and both betray unpleasant attitudes, too. Buchan's Hannay is much worse in this regard than Hope's Ru...more

This is a classic swashbuckling adventurous romance that involves a lazy, uninspired gentleman who evolves into something more. Kingly politics, subterfuge, mistaken identity, ruthless villains, swordfights, dungeons, a desirable princess, and rustic, wooded surroundings with country inns and cas...more

On a "raw and damp" morning in the England of 1733, according to the author's premise, a British nobleman named James Rassendyll fought a duel with a visiting prince of the House of Elphberg, the royal family of the (fictional) Central European country of Ruritania. Severely wounded, the prince r...more

Not as good as the Flashman version, but essential background nonetheless.

Working through my elementary Persian grammar, I notice that the Persian word for "prison" is زندان, "zendan". Looking around, I find other people who have pointed this out (e.g. here) but so far I haven't come across anyon...more

Rudolf Rassendyll an Englishman, takes a vacation to Ruritania don't look on a map to find it, you won't. Set in the 1890's , a new king, is to be crowned, in this remote Eastern European nation. Rudolf is curious to see his distant cousin and look- alike, Rudolf the Fifth ( a century old family...more

I'm staying with 4 stars, for old times' sake. This Victorian-era novel delighted me as a child, back before the invention of the "Young Adult" genre, when I read anything I could get my hands on.

It had been years since I last re-read it, so it held some surprises for me this time around. There'...more

The Prisoner of Zenda is a fun little tale of adventure and derring-do written at the turn of the century (the 19th century, that is) by Anthony Hope. It is a well-known tale. There is danger to a famous personage (in this case, the King of Ruritania) and there just happens to be a distant cousi...more

It was not an interesting read, though it seemed to be at first. I started with some expectations but I soon realized I am going to be bored. Yet I kept reading; and did not stop till I finished the novel. Now, my reactions about the book are not all positive. The premise of the book, as seemed t...more

What a great story, a brief but epic adventure. Perhaps some may be tempted to rate it lower because it is not the standard rose-coloured fairytale, but I don't think that is fair. The adventure is fun: a monarchy, a feud, a capture, a farce and a fight, but it is the heroic romance which makes i...more

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