Thrilling chases, daring escapes, dashing heroes (and villains), kidnapped Kings, beautiful Princesses, dastardly evil plots, derring-do, swordfights, amazing coincidences, stalwart friendship and honour saving the day. This classic tale of adventure has it all.
This was one of the first `proper books' I read as a child, and it got me hooked on reading. Unfortunately, no other adventure story I ever read quite matched the heights of this true original!
It tells the story of Rudolph Rassendyll, holidaying in the central European Kingdom of Ruritania. By chance it turns out Rassendyll is the exact double of the King. When the King is kidnapped by his evil brother Michael, it is up to Rassenyll to save the Kingdom by first impersonating the King so that no-one realises anything is wrong, then launching a daring night assault on Michael's castle to rescue the real King.
As well as a strong plot, the book is brought to life with great characters - the stout and implacable Colonel Sapt, the loyal young Fritz, the weak playboy King, the evil Black Michael and, of course, the devilishly dashing Rupert of Hentzau. Each is given a distinctive voice and really lives when one reads the book. Added to this, Hope had a great eye for action, describing fights scenes in such a manner as to leave you feeling quite breathless by the end of it. He also had an eye for the human story, with the motives of many of the characters examined, making their actions seem more believable and not just merely convenient plot devices.
This is a truly classic story, one that bears reading and re-reading. Definitely one to get reluctant young readers interested in books, and a great pece of escapism for the older reader. Highly recommended. Also check out the sequel `Rupert of Hentzau', in which the story is satisfactorily continued and concluded.