The Prince Commands is a little action adventure novel, written in the 1930s, and part of the “Ruritania” genre, by which I mean guns and trains and cThe Prince Commands is a little action adventure novel, written in the 1930s, and part of the “Ruritania” genre, by which I mean guns and trains and cars and swords and political intrigue with a Western hero in an Eastern European throwback monarchy. See The Prisoner of Zenda, for the ur-example, or swashbuckling in a more modern sense. The hero of this one is Michael Karl, a young man raised in wealthy isolation, who discovers he is the heir to the throne of an ancient kingdom and gets involved in a revolution.
This was written purely as a fun story, so there’s no heavy stuff, but lots of bandits, daring escapes, secret identities, secret codes, secret passages, helpful peasants, and loyal friends. Although I never became emotionally attached to the characters or plot, it was quick and light and likeable and fun. ...more
Her Royal Spyness is the starting entry of an historical mystery series by Rhys Bowen (who in spite of the name, appears to be a woman). The amateur dHer Royal Spyness is the starting entry of an historical mystery series by Rhys Bowen (who in spite of the name, appears to be a woman). The amateur detective is Georgie, an impoverished noblewoman, 34th in line to the throne of Britain, struggling to survive in 1930s. So what we get is a portrait of a decaying upper crust crossed with flappy, jazzy, Hollywood attitudes. Tradition meets abandon, and that sort of thing. These aristocrats have a doomed, decaying way of life and nobody much cares.
Repressed, bored, penniless, Georgie decides not to wait for her family to arrange her a respectful marriage. She takes off for London to make her fortune, finds it harder than she expected, and gets involved in the murder of a foreign blackmailer. Her own brother may or may not have been the killer. It’s up to Georgie to discover the truth and make her reputation. Also, the queen asks her to scope out the dastardly Mrs. Wallis Simpson.
Her Royal Spyness is the first in a series and it reads as very much the origin-story. We learn her family history and the roots of her unconventional independence. We watch as she takes the bull by the horns and ends up single in London. One by one, the players are introduced , who will eventually make up her comrades-in-arms. They are predecessors for their future appearances. She gets a wild gal-pal to give love-advice and a slightly dangerous man-friend to rescue her. She meets her loving lower-class grandfather, a former policeman, who will no doubt help her with the Law. She gets a wealthy ex-stepfather to provide future emergency funds. She starts her own cleaning service, to make money, to be comedic, and to allow her access to rich suspects’ houses whenever she has need. Oh, and she gets a boss, the queen herself, who blatantly states at the end that she will have many more spy jobs for her clever relation. (The “spy job” in this book, by the way is entirely incidental and superfluous to the main plot, making the title rather misleading.). It felt more like an origin-story for a series, than an original story that happens to start a series.
Some characters were likeable, notably the heroine herself and her goofy brother, Binky. Others, I did not care for. Was I supposed to like her hedonistic fashion-designer BFF? I didn’t. Frankly, she seems rather disturbed.
I may try the second in the series, to see if my interest picks up. ...more