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The Prisoner Of Zenda

(The Ruritania Trilogy #2)

3.86  ·  Rating details ·  16,943 ratings  ·  930 reviews
Swordfights, midnight rides, castles and dungeons... The Prisoner of Zenda is the classic romantic adventure!
When Rudolf Rassendyll decides to take a journey to see his distant cousin crowned king of Ruritania, it soon becomes apparent that it is not going to be a routine trip. The first indication of this comes with the realization that he bears an uncanny resemblance to
Paperback, 200 pages
Published 2007 by Penguin Books (first published 1894)
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Lydia Corey Absolutely! It is by far one of my favorite. It's got a little bit of everything to make it just right.
Nicky C With an outstanding mixture of Adventure, Drama and Romance this novel is worth a read. Adventure and Thrill at its best with an icing of decent…moreWith an outstanding mixture of Adventure, Drama and Romance this novel is worth a read. Adventure and Thrill at its best with an icing of decent romance on it. I loved it.(less)

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Average rating 3.86  · 
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 ·  16,943 ratings  ·  930 reviews

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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 remote Eastern European nation. Rudolf is curious to see his distant cousin and look- alike, Rudolf the Fifth ( a century old family affair... a scandal...nothing else will be said...
kept very quiet ... the cause of this embarrassing connection). The traveler decides unwisely to explore an interesting Ruritanian forest on foot, he's i
Amit Mishra
Jun 26, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It follows the swashbuckling adventures of Rudolf Rassendyll, an Englishman who bears a striking resemblance to the king of Ruritania.
Sanjay Gautam
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 to me, was unrealistic but plausible. But it was not this that upset me - it was the shallow characterization done by the author.

The characters were shallow, and uninspiring. Anthony Hope never tried to g
K.J. Charles
Rereading this for the 400th time in prep for writing my own version for Riptide's Queered Classics series. This time, I read it from the perspective that the narrator is a lying SOB. It's amazing how well it lends itself to that.

Brilliant book though, with flashes of utter genius in the writing, along with all the expected flaws of Victorian pulp.

Thus he vanished--reckless and wary, graceful and graceless, handsome, debonair, vile, and unconquered.

Getting myself a library card for the first time in years has enabled me to binge on lightweight adventures it seems. I don't remember seeing one of the several film versions of this, though that's not saying much, absence of evidence is not evidence of absence and all that. Lying in bed last night, reading the last few pages of this book it seemed so clearly related to A Princess of Mars and at least two other books I've munched down recently. That connection this morning, even after coffee, se ...more
Sarah Sammis
Nov 05, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 16, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 anyone who knows if it's more than a coincidence.
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's a zest and verve to the writing that's perfect for a swashbuckling adventure novel. Our hero, Rudolf Rassendyl, is more of a rogue than I remembered -- sexual adventures are even hinted at. *gasp* Some
Sep 08, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Any fan of Romantic-style adventure fiction
Recommended to Werner by: It was a common read in one of my groups
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 returned home, where he recovered and subsequently ascended the throne, married and continued the royal line. James contracted a severe respiratory illness on the occasion and died of it (this was the pre ...more
AhmEd ElsayEd
Mar 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: مناهج
The Prisoner Of Zenda
A Great classic adventure
God save the king! both kings
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
Apr 29, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Allison Hurd
Jun 21, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: man-author, classics
Whoa! This was so fun! It's the classic gothic novel--swashbuckling, impostor kings, traitors, madmen, beautiful women--but it's also witty and well paced. I think it held up well (despite a few obvious changes in sentiment over the intervening century and a half since it was written) and was a complete surprise to me how good it was.

I read this in preparation to read a retelling/spin off of this one recommended by a friend. I expected to be bored and glad to see the end of it, but I'll be hones
Elizabeth A.G.
Sep 29, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 castles are all described in the narration by our protagonist, Rudolf Rassendyll. This is an intriguing, fun, and humorous read with a story whose secrets must be maintained.
Apr 16, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

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
The Rags of Time
Sep 04, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 19th-century, fiction
The Prisoner of Zenda is a classic story taking place in the fictional German state "Ruritania"–a word which has come to be a generic term for "small fictional country in Europe which saved the writer the trouble of too much research", so well-known was Anthony Hope's story once. I should probably state up front that I love fictional places; countries, cities, stately homes, the occasional uninhabited island... You name it. That I would sooner or later have to visit Ruritania was obviously inevi ...more
Jul 27, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 another time when it played out in the background of a Bojack Horseman episode.

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,
Sebastien Castell
Reading Anthony Hope's The Prisoner of Zenda, I find myself comparing it to Raphael Sabatini's Scaramouche. This may not be entirely fair; the former was written some 40 years before the latter, and Sabatini almost certainly read Hope's famous adventure novel and so could both take inspiration from and improve upon it. With that said, it's hard not to find The Prisoner of Zenda lacking by comparison.

Swashbuckling fiction, at it's core, depends upon the hero being dropped into an impossible situa
Silvia Cachia
A somehow predictable an simpleton book, maybe a good YA title. Nothing espectacular, just a fun light read.
Apr 23, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
Read out of curiosity after having read and enjoyed The Henchmen of Zenda :)
Jul 05, 2015 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
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
Mar 22, 2012 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
Mahmut Homsi
Feb 03, 2013 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 ..
Oct 29, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jon(athan) Nakapalau
I liked this book very much...just the right amount of cliff-hangers and action to keep you turning the pages. Sure this book has been copied many times in many different types of film and literature.
Allison Tebo
Big shout out to Jessica Prescott to recommending this to me; thanks girl!

At last, a good old-fashioned swashbuckling adventure! I loved the writing style - so rich and yet so easy to read and I really liked the MC - even though he was playing a rather fast playboy, he was intelligent, noble hearted and decisive.

I was actually more involved in this romance then say, anything in TSP series. Instead of spelling out every heartbeat and exchanged look there is more IMPLIED romance, which I find mor
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
Sep 23, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Although it felt like reading an adult, adventurous version of the classic The Prince and the Pauper, I have quite enjoyed it. :)
ci chong
Aug 10, 2009 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
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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

Other books in the series

The Ruritania Trilogy (3 books)
  • The Heart of Princess Osra
  • Rupert of Hentzau
“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.” 23 likes
“I have an income nearly sufficient for my wants (no one's income is ever quite sufficient, you know).” 17 likes
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