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The Prisoner of Zenda (The Ruritania Trilogy #2)

3.87 of 5 stars 3.87  ·  rating details  ·  10,174 ratings  ·  436 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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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
Robert
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
Sarah Sammis
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
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
Vlad
I was curious about reading The Prisoner of Zenda because it started the "Ruritanian romance" genre, in which a foreigner visits a small kingdom (usually European) and becomes embroiled in royal affairs, typically due to mistaken identity. However, my fear was that it would be a stodgy old Victorian romance.

Instead, I discovered an action-packed, hot-blooded adventure. Published in 1894, this was clearly an inspiration for Rafael Sabatini as well as the entire pulp genre. Whether it be Burrough...more
Alex
Jul 27, 2014 Alex rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Alex by: El
Shelves: 2014
Prisoner of Zenda 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 is inca...more
Clare Cannon
Nov 29, 2011 Clare Cannon rated it 5 of 5 stars
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
Kaph
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
Kimbolimbo
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.
Liberty
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
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
Mahmoud Homsi
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
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.
Capsguy
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..
Valerie
When first looking at this book I thought it had promise but after a while of putting it off I became less enthusiastic. I loved the whole King in disguise idea but I couldn’t get over the setting. Something as crazy as this seems like it should be in a fantasy book but hey I liked the book anyways so I guess the setting worked.

Quick Overview: Essentially this gentleman, Rudolf, looks a lot like the King to be and when the King is drugged and kidnapped Rudolf fills in for him. With the help of t...more
Wes Freeman
Canonical swashbuckler from ass end of the 19th century. British gentleman protagonist is spitting image of the king of (fictional) Ruritania and finds self up to waistcoat in high intrigue when King's ducal brother poisons King the night before his coronation. Look-alike protagonist must act as King -- living in royal digs, Victorian-flirting with royal betrothed, hunting and suchlike -- while he and King's entourage scheme on getting King back on his throne. Real conflict in novel ain't so muc...more
حسام عادل
تحفة أنتوني هوب الخالدة..
كيف فاتتني تلك الرواية?!..المفترض أني قرأتها طفلا ولكني لم أعد أذكر منها حرفا,صادفتها منذ يومين أثناء بحثي عن كتب أخري فاشتريتها وقررت أن أعتبرها القراءة الأولى لها,تصفحتها في البداية بلا حماس ثم ما لبثت أن جذبتني لها حتي أنهيتها بالكامل في جلسة واحدة..رائعة بحق.
تحكي عن تيمة مستهلكة ومكررة - وهذا ما انتقص منها نجمة - وهي تيمة البديل,شخص عادي تضعه الظروف صدفة في موقع غير عادي ليعيش مغامرة مثيرة وحياة كاملة ومغايرة تماما لحياته السابقة,ماذا حدث له? وكيف يتصرف وحده في مكان...more
Hasnain Bahleem
This Book has stolen the Sleep From My eyes and the peace from my life not because of its Literary Brilliance but its On the Syllabus Of My English Exam and has Ruined My Life.
i had never heard of this Book before but it became familiar to me when i got in 12th grade with a Spoiled and rotten cover art which was the work of a true artistic Brilliance(pst.I'm being sarcastic it was horrible and couldn't stand any minute of it)
i hated this why don't they put Books like harry potter in Our School
co...more
بسام عبد العزيز
عودة مرة أخرى إلى عالم المغامرات الفانتازية.. عالم الفرسان و المبارزات.. عالم الأميرات و الحصان الأبيض.. ببساطة العالم الذي يجذب أي طفل للحلم به..

شخصية واحدة تعلقت بها كثيرا طوال الرواية.. لا ليس البطل... لا ليس عدو البطل.. ولا صديق البطل.. ولا فتاة البطل..

إذن من هى؟ هي احد جنود عدو البطل... تحديدا روبرت أوف هنتزو...

عشقت تماما هذه الشخصية.. إنه يبدو لي الأكثر صدقا و اتساقا مع نفسه.. إنه ليس شريرا بغرض الشر.. و لكنه شرير فقط لأنه يريد الأفضل لنفسه... هل الطموح يعتبر شر؟ هل الرغبة في الإرتقاء تع...more
Chris
“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
Spuddie
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
Laura
Jan 16, 2011 Laura rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Bettie
Available at BBC Radio 7 for only 16 hours left: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00syscr
ci chong
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
Bev Hankins


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 cousin who looks exactly like him on the spot who can fill in and help out. There have been many a book and many a film based on this idea (Danny Kaye starred in perhaps five different versions of this sort o...more
Leander
This swashbuckling classic is still remarkably fresh and vivacious, considering it was written in 1894. It follows the adventures of a young Englishman, Rudolf Rassendyll, who has decided to indulge himself with one last jolly before he embarks on a career in the diplomatic service. He finds himself drawn to Ruritania, a small Central European kingdom ruled by a family who have a scandalous connection to Rudolf's own ancestors - a connection proven by Rudolf's own red hair and long nose. A chanc...more
Derek
The problem with reading a classic like THE PRISONER OF ZENDA is that the plot has been stolen and redone so many times that its original power has been watered down so much that it leaves the reader wondering what the big idea was in the first place.

THE PRISONER OF ZENDA is the grandfather of the popular "Hero looks just like a King and helps to thwart an assassination attempt" genre. As such, it's an interesting read, but there's nothing here you haven't seen before.

The narrative is awkwardly...more
Snail in Danger (Sid) Nicolaides
Dec 20, 2009 Snail in Danger (Sid) Nicolaides rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of Kushner, Stevermer, and Bujold; and 29-year-old redheads
Recommended to Snail in Danger (Sid) by: Caroline Stevermer, in an extremely roundabout way
If you enjoyed A College of Magics, you should read this book if you haven't. It will enhance your re-reading. But even if you aren't the sort of person who re-reads, the resonances between Stevermer's book and this one will make the journey enjoyable for you.

It's also pleasant to read on its own, despite being a bit bloodthirsty in places. If you like to read (especially fantasy fiction), you will probably enjoy this book.

Side note: there's a reason I try to read the oldest edition of a book th...more
pinknantucket
Okay this one’s not being counted in my Readathon tally – again, I only got up to about page 50 before giving up. This is one of those “oh-my-god-you-look-just-like-the-King-who-has-just-mysteriously-disappeared-can-you-fill-in-for-him-and-get-it-on-with-his-chick?” books, written in “Boys Own Adventure” style. The Swashbuckling Hero is Rudolph Rassendyll, on holiday from England in the green forests of Zenda. The Bad Guy is “That damned hound, Black Michael”, the King’s brother. People say “Cou...more
Thom Swennes
Not unlike The Prince and the Pauper by Mark Twain, The Prisoner of Zenda has a look-alike coronation. Rudolf Rassendyll, a well to do Englishman and distant relative of the crown heads of Ruritania (a fictional European country situated between Poland, Germany and the Czech Republic). Having nothing better to do Rudolf decides to travel to Ruritania and witness the coronation of their new monarch. When he arrives in Zenda, a city forty miles from the country’s capitol Strelsau and meets the soo...more
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The Better Book C...: The Prisoner of Zenda: Book vs. 1952 Movie 2 2 Apr 25, 2014 12:41PM  
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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...
Rupert of Hentzau The Prisoner of Zenda & Rupert of Hentzau The Heart of Princess Osra The Indiscretion of the Duchess Phroso

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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.” 11 likes
“I have an income nearly sufficient for my wants (no one's income is ever quite sufficient, you know).” 8 likes
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