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The Henchmen of Zenda

3.96  ·  Rating details ·  1,608 ratings  ·  353 reviews
Swordfights, lust, betrayal, murder: just another day for a henchman.

Jasper Detchard is a disgraced British officer, now selling his blade to the highest bidder. Currently that's Michael Elphberg, half-brother to the King of Ruritania. Michael wants the throne for himself, and Jasper is one of the scoundrels he hires to help him take it. But when Michael makes his move, th
ebook, 232 pages
Published May 15th 2018 by KJC Books
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Average rating 3.96  · 
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K.J. Charles
The Prisoner of Zenda is one of the big (in stature, it's very short) Victorian pulp novels, the rip-roaring swashbuckling tale of an Englishman posing as a king in a nonexistent medievalist European country. It has beautiful princesses, dastardly skulduggery, a hot-as-fire villain, endless swordfights, a lot of highly dubious Victorian attitudes with a lot of misogyny and whiffs of racism, and a remarkably high body count. There is a Douglas Fairbanks Jr movie. It's that sort of book.

I love Ze
Eli Easton
May 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book is so fantabulous, I want to hold it up and sing songs to it.
OK, that might be a bit much. But it really is marvelous. The writing is excellent and the daring-do characters are so much fun. This is definitely an intrigue/swashbuckler tale with a dash of romance, as opposed to the other way around, but it is a perfect read IMHO. Just smashing.
Kaje Harper
Jun 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
The original Prisoner of Zenda is a lot of fun, and has some definite homoerotic moments to it. Rupert was clearly the dynamic figure in it, and here he gets his due as the love interest of Jasper Detchard - disgraced officer for hire. We get to watch these two forge a relationship while they swash and buckle, and plot and connive and sometimes fuck their way through the convoluted plot of the missing king, body double on the throne, sharp princess, and more. It was great reimagining of the clas ...more
nemo the emo ☠️ (pagesandprozac)
not my favourite kj charles, i must admit. *banging my knife and fork on the table next to my empty plate* GIVE ME MORE ROMANCE!!!

ok, but seriously, i did really like it. full of intrigue and adventure, and as i'd never even heard of The Prisoner of Zenda before, much less read it, i literally had no fucking clue what was going to happen next. so that was quite fun, although at some parts i have to admit i was slightly confused - but everything cleared up eventually.

about the romance. it wasn't
I've given this an A- at AAR, so 4.5 stars rounded up.

I’ve been looking forward to The Henchmen of Zenda, K.J. Charles’ ‘queered’ retelling of the classic The Prisoner of Zenda, ever since she announced it months ago, and in fact the book made my ‘most eagerly awaited of 2018 list‘ at AAR.  I love a ripping adventure yarn, and that’s exactly what the author has delivered – a tale of swashbuckling derring-do featuring a pair of amoral, cynical and devil-may-care anti-heroes, palace intrigue, poli
h o l l i s
Heroes are dashing. I prefer winning.

I just don't know, guys! Charles is one of those authors I can just depend on. I know I will have great writing (check), a delicious pairing (check check), and an interesting or clever plot (checkity checks), but maybe not being familiar with the book this kind of spins off from kept me from connecting? I don't know.

"Michael has forbidden me to fuck you, but since I imagine that has deprived me of at most half an hour's mild entertainment--"
"Oh, now, that's j
Still working on my review -- Although there are already so many great ones for this book -- I'm not sure I've seen a book recently that inspired so many outstanding reviews! Mine isn't actually necessary, but --


In the meantime I simply have to ask, for those of you who've read it, are those Easter eggs* in the last few pages, OR WHAT???

I mean, unless I'm sadly mistaken, isn't that (view spoiler)
Loved it. An excellent and infinitely more entertaining (and also more believable!) telling of the events in The Prisoner of Zenda.
If you haven't read the original work yet, I strongly suggest you do so before starting this one.
Apr 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
It is safe to say that I am 110% the target audience for this book.

You may, dear reader, be familiar with the popular adage “don’t judge a book by its cover”?

In this case, I beg you, DO judge a book by its cover, for the art designed to accompany The Henchmen of Zenda faithfully conveys the spirit and substance of the book: a classic ripping yarn of swashbuckling Ruritanian highjinks, which is unabashedly gay AF.

Do you like dashing chaps in inadvisably tight trousers and big white shirts? Scene
Allison Hurd
Jun 24, 2019 rated it liked it
I did like this more than Swordspoint, which is the impetus for selecting this book (along with a buddy to discuss it). Romance novels and I still have a disagreement about which parts of erotic love are worth sharing, but the other parts were generally quite fun.

CONTENT WARNING: (no actual spoilers, just a list of topics) (view spoiler)

Things to love:

-Jasper. A despicab
Tag team review with Lost in a Book!

Another entertaining tale from KJ Charles!

I haven’t read The Prisoner of Zenda, and so had no idea of Ruritanian romance. But I thoroughly enjoyed the outcome - a blend of adventure, political intrigue, complex characters, and an out-of-the-ordinary romance.

The book introduces us to Jasper Detchard, a mercenary with little to no scruples. He moves from one European country to the next, doing the bidding of whoever buys his sword. But Jasper has one fatal flaw
Thank you very much to KJ Charles for providing a copy of her novel in exchange for an honest review.

Every time I find out that KJ Charles has a new book coming out, I get ridiculously excited, but this time I was over the moon. Why? Because this time, KJ has taken a classic tale of adventure, manly courage and unstable politics, and flipped the entire thing on its head by retelling this story with queer men, untraditional antiheroes and badass women.

While The Prisoner of Zenda has been on my TB
Dec 07, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-ebooks
“How many lands have you seen, Detchard? How many adventures have you had? You live for danger.”

“I live by danger. That is quite different.”

“You love it, and you know it. I want action. Intrigue. I want . . .” He turned in the saddle, arms wide, indicating the world around us. “I want all of it. I want to live as though every day is my last; I want to fight for foolish causes and gamble everything on the turn of a card. I want never to set a guard on my speech or my thoughts. I want to take al
3.5 stars
I love The Prisoner of Zenda, I love K.J. Charles's writing; a twisted mirror version of the original should have been a 5-star read. So why wasn't it?

I think it's a case of clashing strengths. KJC is brilliant at allusive dialogue, at strong characters whose changing motivations draw us in, at HEA romantic relationships. Anthony Hope's PoZ is about heroism, action, black and white characterisations. KJC does a good job of imitating his style, which is deliberate, description-heavy, and
Apr 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is a wonderful adventure romance in the veins of Dumas's The Three Musketeers but queer. It's fun and full of court intrigue and treason and sword fighting and an engaging romance between an older experienced gay man and a charming younger bi man

This story is a wild ride from the start. It's told form Jasper's POV, a jaded and disillusioned henchman who is loyal to his friends and the people he cares about. He is comfortable with who he is, absolutely unashamed and unrepentant about his lif
I've given this a C+ for narration and an A- for content at AudioGals.

A retelling of Anthony Hope’s 1894 classic adventure story The Prisoner of Zenda from a different point of view, K.J. Charles’ The Henchmen of Zenda introduces us to Jasper Detchard, a disgraced and debauched former army officer who unrepentantly fights and fucks his way around Europe, making his living as soldier of fortune. He’s approached by Michael Elphberg, Duke of Strelsau (from the small European kingdom of Ruritania) t
4 Stars

For some reason I was thinking I had read The Prisoner of Zenda back in High School. Turns out I did not. And as such I think I was missing all of the innuendo and references - which would have made this a richer experience.

Not that reading it seems to have been necessary as this book was complete and extremely enjoyable on it's own...especially the audiobook! Antony Ferguson did an exceptional job with the narration. (He's credited as narrating a book on the Periodic Table and I'm excite
This was absolutely brilliant!

An excellent behind-the-scenes explanation of the events that took place in The Prisoner of Zenda. More intrigue, more deceit and backstabbing; spies and double-triple-quadruple agents galore! In other words, a truly delightful read! I hope there is more to come :) (Please, KJC! PLEASE! I am not above begging!)

That said, I strongly suggest to not to skip the original!

... you won't regret it! :D The books complete each other perfectly!

*happy sigh*

When KJ Charles is on, she’s on. This book is all the things: fun, ridiculous, hilarious, swashbuckling, hot, FUN. The high pulp style suits her so well because she can pack the book full of joy and all the sneering and sniding she likes to write works because it’s comic and joyful.

On top of that: she upends the classic Prisoner of Zenda and I love stories that do that. It never hurts to remember who writes the official accounts and what likely happened instead, even when it’s pulp fiction.


Feb 13, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: 1-historical
There are times I really enjoy adventures with scheming, danger, politics and a certain trembling uncertainty, even better if it's pseudo-historical and taking place at simpler times like the late 19th century and if it's based on a story I know but tells that story from the perspective of another person, making one of the villains of the original story the hero and shed a new light on everything – throw it at me … doesn't matter if the romance part is getting into the backseat as long as it
First things first - this is not strictly speaking a retelling of The Prisoner of Zenda but the flip side of the coin. If you have read "Prisoner" you may remember that there are a great many things that the MC does not talk about in his book (because he wasn't there to tell the tale AND/OR because he is a lying liar which is the premise that KJ Charles goes with). So for once I absolutely recommend reading the "original" or rather the foil this story is based on. "Prisoner" is a mostly very ent ...more
Helen Kord
Apr 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Read the review on my blog!

I think my favourite thing about The Henchmen of Zenda is the unabashed fun KJ is having with rewriting the original book, calling it out on its bullshit, while still showing her love and appreciation for it. This book is glorious. It’s a joyful romp, poking fun at the conventions of the genre, completely unashamed. I couldn’t stop grinning while reading, every new page exciting.

I’ve read Anthony Hope’s The Prisoner of Zenda in preparation for this book and I’m so, so
Sep 22, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: mm-historical
I expected to LOVE this, because I really enjoy KJ Charles stories!! But this one is a No for me... maybe is the style of the narrative, but all those explanations, descriptions, and not a clear plot made me BORED :(
As ever, excellent

I've long been a fan of Zenda, both the knowledge and the many film versions (FYI Douglas Fairbanks is by FAR the best film Rupert and you won't convince me otherwise) but I have to say that this is the one I've enjoyed most. For a start cynical cool-as-a-cucumber Detchard is exactly the type of hero I love, and that he appears to be comfortably a romantic was a nice surprise. So this isn't really your usual All For Love romance. It's an adventure with a bunch of characters wit
May 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
*3,75 stars*

First of all, please read the author's own notes before you embark on this:
K.J Charles's review

Second: Once you've read the last comment you'll know what to expect.
This is not a love story. It is a very 'roguish' take on a well-known Victorian pulp novel, with some 'romantic elements' (but no more). So if you are after real romance and love, this is not for you.

Third: I've never read the original book. Although the author assures us that this isn't necessary to understand her version
Jan 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
Despite what a lot of the reviews suggest I did not first read the Prisoner of Zenda, not even the blurb, and I still had a marvelous time with this one. Action packed, sarcasm packed, fun packed, just all around bet packed. Detchard should narrate alternative gay versions of an the old classics.
Liz (Bugetta)
This was so much fun! It's more of an adventure novel than a romance, but that was fine, because the adventure and intrigue was so well done. I haven't read The Prisoner of Zenda yet and I didn't feel lost at all, though I expect it might even more fun if you're familiar with the original.
KJ Charles is such an excellent writer. I loved the dialogue throughout the novel and the banter between Jasper and Rupert was delightful. It was also super steamy. *fans self* I would happily read more advent
Roxana Chirilă
May 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
"The Henchmen of Zenda" (published 2018) is a reinterpretation of "The Prisoner of Zenda" (published 1894), but I hear it's not necessary to know the latter in order to understand the former. I wouldn't know, because I read "The Prisoner" while waiting for "The Henchmen".

It's the end of the 19th century and Jasper Detchard is making his living as a mercenary. He's been decommissioned from the army for bad conduct and his family back home in Britain wants nothing to do with him - these might have

This book was interesting, and also if I'am not a big fan of 1st POVs, and here the one writing the story and telling it is Jasper Detchard, it was still easy to understand the other characters emotions and feelings. Maybe not completely, but still enough to be sure that Jasper and Rupert of Hentzau, really cared for each other. This is not the typical romance, and if you want to read about something like that, this book isn't for you. Here there is more description, more plot and more fo
Heather K (dentist in my spare time)
Thank you for the present, Jolly Elf In A Palmtree!
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KJ is a writer of romance, mostly m/m, historical or fantasy or both. She blogs about writing and editing at

She lives in London, UK, with her husband, two kids, and a cat of absolute night.

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