K.J. Charles's Reviews > The Henchmen of Zenda

The Henchmen of Zenda by K.J. Charles
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(Review from the author)
bookshelves: 1890s, dodgy-geezer, europe-is-a-real-place-which-exists, historical, m-m, ruritania, books-by-me

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 Zenda but I have always felt that the first-person narrator was a jerk, and once I was given the opportunity to screw about with it rewrite the story, it became apparent that he was a liar as well. This version is what (imo) really happened, as narrated by one of the Evil Duke's Evil Henchmen. It is substantially queerer than the original is (on page at least, Victorian novels are subtext-tastic), and has significantly more sex.

Let me add, the cover is by Simone and is absolutely stellar. I adore it.


Do I need to read the original first?
You definitely don't have to--we had it read by people who didn't know the original, to be sure. I think readers who know it will have more fun, myself, and the original is free on the internet and very short. But your call.

Is this a romance, with a HEA?
I'd probably go for 'pulp adventure with strong romantic elements'. (view spoiler)
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Reading Progress

Started Reading
February 26, 2018 – Shelved
February 26, 2018 – Shelved as: 1890s
February 26, 2018 – Shelved as: dodgy-geezer
February 26, 2018 – Shelved as: europe-is-a-real-place-which-exists
February 26, 2018 – Shelved as: historical
February 26, 2018 – Shelved as: m-m
February 26, 2018 – Shelved as: ruritania
February 26, 2018 – Shelved as: books-by-me
February 26, 2018 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-12 of 12 (12 new)

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Teal Oooooh, definitely not peeking at that spoiler! I'll re-read TPOZ before this comes out. But what about Rupert of Hentzau? I'm wondering if I should re-read that too...

Mymymble I'm not. I can't find it and hafta force myself to read paper books these days. It was a cracker though. There was also a tv series with Peter Wyngarde when I was a kid. And there's the Prisoner of Zenda.

Teal I have an ebook version of RoH, Mymymble. Free from iTunes, according to my GR data. And it might be free from Project Gutenberg as well, I'm guessing...? I've only read it once, and that was long ago, in the print version. Back in the pre-internet days it was a very difficult book to track down (at least in the US).

Mymymble I think I saw it on Gutenberg. But since my kid just got 30+ boxes of books from his nan, and I discovered many of mine which Ma had 'borrowed' and I'd replaced with ebooks, I'm calling a halt on that practice right now.

Teal Too many books? Who would have thought it possible....

Mymymble You didn't hafta carry them, mate. Also lots of them were weighty tomes like ' The Stanley Gibbons foreign stamp catalogue 1975'. A real keeper.

Teal I once moved approx. 3000 books across the country with me... When ebooks arrived on the scene, I gladly began divesting myself of "real" books. Well, except for some beloved favorites and the irreplaceables. I'm down to about my last 700 or so print books, I think? Huh, I thought it would be way fewer, but a quick head count says otherwise. Love love love ebooks.

Mymymble You're right there. But paper books will come back to their own after the inevitable zombie apocalypse.

Teal I'm going to make it a point not to survive that apocalypse, though. 😱 So all my books will be available to the first comers.

message 10: by Jax (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jax I love the cover!

message 11: by Estara (new)

Estara Ohhh ^^ - also, I didn't realise there was a Douglas Fairbanks Jr. movie of it, I just loved the Deborah Kerr/ Steward Granger movie which was shown on German TV in the regional programmes a lot in the 80s - like a lot of US 40s/50s/60s movies in general.

message 12: by R (new) - rated it 5 stars

R Dear KJ Charles. I enjoyed this book so much, Rupert was my favourite character in the Prisoner of Zenda. Will you be returning to Zenda, because Rupert allegedly (SPOILER ALERT) dies in the sequel, so you could do all about he escapes and fakes his death or something?
This is a brilliant book, I loved it.

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