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The Prisoner of Zenda (The Ruritania Trilogy #2)

3.87  ·  Rating Details  ·  13,556 Ratings  ·  600 Reviews
Anthony Hope's swashbuckling romance transports his English gentleman hero, Rudolf Rassendyll, from a comfortable life in London to fast-moving adventures in Ruritania, a mythical land steeped in political intrigue. Rassendyll bears a striking resemblance to Rudolf Elphberg who is about to be crowned King of Ruritania. When the rival to the throne, Black Michael of Strelsa ...more
Paperback, 157 pages
Published October 27th 1994 by Penguin Books Ltd. (first published 1894)
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Michelle It's definitely a swashbuckling adventure in the best way possible. Though there is not much else comparable between the two, I would say the "type"…moreIt's definitely a swashbuckling adventure in the best way possible. Though there is not much else comparable between the two, I would say the "type" of adventure in this book is pretty similar to that of the Three Musketeers. (less)
Earthshine
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The Three Musketeers by Alexandre DumasThe Princess Bride by William GoldmanThe Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre DumasTreasure Island by Robert Louis StevensonThe Scarlet Pimpernel by Emmuska Orczy
Swashbucklers
13th out of 368 books — 365 voters
Pride and Prejudice by Jane AustenJane Eyre by Charlotte BrontëWuthering Heights by Emily BrontëThe Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar WildeCrime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Best Books of the 19th Century
165th out of 925 books — 4,986 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Henry Avila
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 Eastern European nation.Rudolf is curious to see his distant cousin,and look alike, Rudolf the Fifth( a century old family affair, was the cause of this connection).The traveler ,decides to explore a Ruritanian forest, on foot.Getting sleepy, he lies down and falls into a slumber.Imagine when the King ,while hunting with his entourage, d ...more
Sarah Sammis
Nov 27, 2007 Sarah Sammis rated it it was amazing
Shelves: released
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 (1888) and Pudd'nhead Wilson (1893-4) into the adventure genre for adults. Anthony Hope's story of a king kidnapped on the eve of his coronation and his English cousin who takes his place is derring-do a
...more
Robert
May 07, 2012 Robert rated it liked it
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 Rudolf: Hannay is racist, sexist, Imperialist, arrogant and frankly unlikeable. Rudolf, however, makes one fairly mild sexist remark. There are differences, though: Hannay is bored of being idle whereas Ru ...more
Clare Cannon
Nov 29, 2011 Clare Cannon rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: 14 years+
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 it truly great.

Zenda shows the antithesis of Twilight's selfish, obsessive love. There's a paragraph in my Twilight review which is apt here:
"One of the most serious issues in Twilight is the glorificatio
...more
Jonathan

The Prisoner of Zenda is often called a classic of mystery and adventure. However, my expectations of this novel proved unequal to the novel itself as it is very dated in its style and tone. I can usually deal with novels which are dated, and yet something in particular about this work was hard to swallow entirely. I still accept that it should be noted as a classic of its genre, just not a classic among classics that all people should flock to read.

The story reminds one of the classic work of T
...more
Alex
Mar 23, 2015 Alex rated it really liked it
Recommended to Alex by: El
Shelves: 2014, rth-lifetime
Prisoner of Zenda (1894) is a little slip of a book: its influence is heavier than its pages. Filmed numerous times, including (as El pointed out) once when it was called Dave and had Kevin Kline in it.

And it was the major influence on Nabokov's Pale Fire, which basically amounts to an extended trippy metafictional cover of the same story. (Here's more on the similarities, if you need convincing.)

The story: what, you haven't seen Dave? What's your problem, that movie is awesome. Fine: the king
...more
El
As it starts getting really cold outdoors, and as the snow starts to come down and actually stick, I always seem to get the urge to read a good, swashbuckling novel. Swords. Trickery. Escapades. Love affairs. These are the things that keep me warm as the weather changes. A big mug of hot tea and an adventure story are all I really ask.

This year the best choice was The Prisoner of Zenda. Surprisingly as I read and began to understood the plot, the first thing to come to mind was the 1993 film wit
...more
Kimbolimbo
Nov 04, 2007 Kimbolimbo rated it really liked it
This book was actually better than I thought it was going to be. There was a lot of fighting and a bit of romance. I think I will look for the sequels. While the men are a bit feminine that doesn't stop them from fighting and killing to defend the women they love. There is great talk of honor and loyalty which are some of my favorite topics. Read this, it is fast and fun.
AhmEd ElsayEd
Jun 16, 2015 AhmEd ElsayEd rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Anthony Hope is Amazing Novel
رائعه أنتوني هوب التى نشرت عام 1894 وتحولت الى عدة افلام سينمائية 1937 و 1352 و 1979
Lacie
Nov 07, 2014 Lacie rated it it was amazing
Loved. It.
Emily
Apr 09, 2015 Emily rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
But if Fate made me a king the least I could do was play the part handsomely.

Apparently this classic adventure novel was written in less than a month by Anthony Hope in 1894, and it's endured ever since - there's a 1937 movie that I will have to acquire somehow, and the BBC recently adapted it in the 80s - and it's easy to see why. This is a truly delightful, swashbuckling story that includes several of my favorite elements: love, impersonation, duels over honor, treachery, castles, mysterious
...more
Liberty
Oct 20, 2012 Liberty rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wow. What an incredible book! Much better than I ever expected. It is the story of a man who is devoted to following his duty, no matter the cost, even to the woman he loves. Webster describes Duty as: “That which a person owes to another; that which a person is bound, by any natural, moral or legal obligation, to pay, do or perform. Obedience to princes, magistrates and the laws is the duty of every citizen and subject; obedience, respect and kindness to parents are duties of children; fidelity ...more
Kaph
May 16, 2012 Kaph rated it liked it
Verdict: A competently swashbuckling semi-fairytale, Though, in a rare reversal, I think I might prefer it in film form.

My ebook reading seems to be aligning itself into themes. It started with a devouring of scifi courtesy of H. G. Wells and now I’ve fallen into a genre of book that can best be described as; novels where Errol Flynn should play the main character in the movie adaptation. I suppose in the interest of conciecety we could label the genere ‘swashbuckle’. Well, Prisoner of Zenda was
...more
Chloe
Jan 24, 2008 Chloe rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: fans of The Scarlet Pimpernel.
Adventure, romance, mystery, humor and a generally quirky nature. What’s not to love? The Prisoner of Zenda is one of the most enjoyable books to settle down with and read cover to cover. The main character’s rather laid-back personality and endearing humor guides the reader through an adventure story of political intrigue and swashbuckling fun. It is THE story for those who have finished The Scarlet Pimpernel books and want something else to read.
Mahmoud Homsi
Feb 13, 2013 Mahmoud Homsi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: english-novels
I Like this kind of novels ...
but I didn't like the conclusion,
I wish the king were killed and the hero were married to the princess

The love depends on the personality cos' even if u are not the king .. I'll love u :)
and that is the message between rudolf and the princess but unfortunately they weren't married ..
Qt
May 17, 2009 Qt rated it it was amazing
Shelves: action-adventure
Brisk and highly entertaining adventure! Nicely written, with amusing touches and, in my copy, some very nice illustrations. The end, though, was (to me) rather sad in a way, and a bit unresolved, but it also hints at a sequel....which I'll have to look for.
Derek
Jun 27, 2016 Derek rated it really liked it
It's kind of sad that I'm experiencing this through the lens of Royal Flash and, now that I think of it, the Kevin Kline vehicle Dave. The former tarnishes the unlikely nobility and ready aplomb with a postmodern antiheroic reformulation, while the second omits essential swordfighting, which would have livened up the second act.

This is admittedly a lunatic tale of wild coincidences, improbable resemblances, madcap derring-do, and high nobility and romance. Rassendyll is as preposterously honorab
...more
Chris
Feb 21, 2014 Chris rated it really liked it
Shelves: derring-do, adventure
“I wonder when in the world you’re going to do anything, Rudolf?” said my brother’s wife. “You are nine-and-twenty,” she observed, “and you’ve done nothing but–”
“Knock about? It is true. Our family doesn’t need to do things.”


The behaviour of Rudolf Rassendyll, younger brother of Robert Lord Burlesdon, appears to live up to his family motto, which is Nil quae feci (roughly translated as ‘I’ve done nothing’). But by the end of The Prisoner of Zenda Rudolf’s actions have belied that motto — at lea
...more
ci chong
Aug 11, 2009 ci chong rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the best adventure stories I've ever come across.A thrilling tale of daring,double-identities,drugged Kings and devious Dukes; of sword fighting,villians, and heroes great and small-- in short, everything a swashbuckling tale of love and loyalty should have. Hope's mastery is amazing; from the first start of the action it flows like a rushing river,seamless, timeless, effortless, breathless.The characters are as vivid as the red hair of the Hapsburgs;the King, a weak,indecisive character ...more
Diana Long
Jan 22, 2016 Diana Long rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Dickens gave us “The Prince and The Pauper”, Dumas wrote “The Man in the Iron Mask” and author Anthony Hope gives us “The Prisoner of Zenda”. By today's standards the discourses between the characters might appear a bit sappy, but being published in 1894, the Victorian ladies might have blushed and swooned as the hero of the story saves the day and the throne of an imaginary country. I enjoyed every part of the story, it was a delightful read and I can understand why it was made into a visual ma ...more
Janet
Aug 27, 2015 Janet rated it liked it
Another pick from my grandfather's collection of elderly popular fiction. Lots of swashbuckling manly men and sweet, passive, not very bright women. Except, of course, for the villain's mistress, who has a cool head and a taste for intrigue. It seems to be the rule in 19th century fiction that the only interesting women are those with loose morals.
Ally Atherton
Oct 25, 2015 Ally Atherton rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The coronation of the King is in the morning but he is asleep and he won't wake up.







This is a short novel that has everything. A great plot, excitement, romance and sword fights!




I can't really fault this one. It had me hooked from the beginning and I like the way it is written. You wouldn't think it was written in the late 1800's because it's really accessible and isn't bogged down with wordy language. It doesn't contain a lot of description and I struggled to visualise some scenes towards the e
...more
M a h v i s h
Sep 18, 2015 M a h v i s h rated it did not like it
Did not at all like this book, mostly because it was included in my course in 12th grade and I still proudly hate all my course books. There were no surprises; it was like a drab remake of the popular prince and the pauper and the romance was dull but there was adventure yes albeit predictable. Black Michael is an evil name but the villain didnt do justice to it. I kept getting confused between the two Rudolfs, I mean wasn't it enough that they looked alike? They had to have the same names too? ...more
Capsguy
Jun 16, 2012 Capsguy rated it liked it
Shelves: british-irish
Maybe too low-brow for me, but a fun read nonetheless. Unbelievable plot and characters, but you take it for what it is.
بسمة العوفي
ممتعة ، لها فكرة مختلفة
مغامرة أن تكون ملك لفترة .. والإختيار بين الحكم والأمانة والحب والشرف..
Ali AlShewail
رائعة

بسيطة و ممتعة جدا :)
Aya
Jan 04, 2016 Aya rated it really liked it
Shelves: scanned
Protože tahle kniha vyšla v českém překladu pouze v roce 1925, pokusím se případným českým čtenářům anglické verze přiblížit i nástin děje, což je věc, kterou obvykle ve svých recenzích nedělám, abych nevyzradila nějaké tajemství.

Rudolf Rassendyl je anglický mladší bratr kohosi významného, leč pro děj nedůležitého, a jako takový je v podstatě znuděný nemakačenko. A tak se jednoho dne vydává na výlet do Ruritánie, vlastně smyšlené země někde v oblasti střední Evropy, aby se zúčastnil korunovace t
...more
Gerry
Jul 05, 2015 Gerry rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Having been disappointed by a couple of recent reads, I thought I would revisit a book from many years ago, one that I thoroughly enjoyed at that time. And my re-read was not to disappoint for 'The Prisoner of Zenda' is just as fresh and thrilling now as it was then. And one can always reflect back to the 1937 and 1952 film versions when Ronald Colman, Douglas Fairbanks Jr, C Aubrey Smith, Madeleine Carroll and others (1937) and Stewart Granger, James Mason, Deborah Kerr and the rest (1952) swas ...more
Emil Söderman
Dec 31, 2014 Emil Söderman rated it really liked it
Now this was a fun read. The plot should be known to most people: A person of distant relation and great likeness to the King of Ruritania becomes embroiled in a plot against said majesty, and forced to play his role. It works through this much-imitated plot with a brisk pace, some nice action sequences and a light and witty prose style that is quite agreeable. It's rather much less complex (in terms of the numbers of twists and turns, lies and so forth) than is usually the case with these kinds ...more
Spuddie
Oct 19, 2014 Spuddie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An enjoyable foray into classic literature. Rudolf Rassyndyll, a young layabout of the British nobility, reads of the upcoming coronation of King Rudolf V in Ruritania. He himself bears a remarkable likeness to the soon-to-be king, due to an indiscretion on the part of one of his ancestors while the King's ancestor was visiting Britain. Intrigued, Rudolf catches the train, telling no one where he's really going.

Before getting to the capital city, he stumbles upon a plot by Duke Michael, the King
...more
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Sir Anthony Hope Hawkins, better known as Anthony Hope was an English novelist and playwright. Although he was a prolific writer, especially of adventure novels, he is remembered best for only two books: The Prisoner of Zenda (1894) and its sequel Rupert of Hentzau (1898). These works, "minor classics" of English literature,[2] are set in the contemporaneous fictional country of Ruritania and spaw ...more
More about Anthony Hope...

Other Books in the Series

The Ruritania Trilogy (3 books)
  • The Heart of Princess Osra
  • Rupert of Hentzau

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“For my part, if a man must needs be a knave I would have him a debonair knave... It makes your sin no worse as I conceive, to do it à la mode and stylishly.” 17 likes
“There are moments when I dare not think of it, but there are others when I rise in spirit to where she ever dwells; then I can thank God that I love the noblest lady in the world, the most gracious and beautiful, and that there was nothing in my love that made her fall short in her high duty.” 13 likes
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