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The Prisoner of Zenda (Penguin Popular Classics) [Paperback]

Anthony Hope
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)

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The Prisoner of Zenda The Prisoner of Zenda 4.5 out of 5 stars (22)
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Book Description

27 Sep 2007 Penguin Popular Classics
Rudolph Rassendyll's life is interrupted by his unexpected and personal involvement in the affairs of Ruritania whilst travelling through the town of Zenda. He is shortly on the way to Streslau, the capital, where he finds himself engaged in plans to rescue the imprisoned king.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; New Ed edition (27 Sep 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140621318
  • ISBN-13: 978-0663585502
  • Product Dimensions: 11.1 x 0.6 x 18.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 805,154 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thilling and epic tale 24 Sep 2004
On holiday from University and with time to spare, i decided to go out and buy some of the cheap Penguin classics and get some reading done. This was definitely the pick of the books i bought.
I've seen this book criticised time and time again for being cliched and unrealistic. It may well be both of those things but who wants fiction to be realistic (we could all name hundreds of books that have an 'unrealistic' plot)? And does it matter that it's cliched if it's an enjoyable read?
This book has a lot of things going for it - Hope's style is very easy to read, it's a very exciting tale and has lots of fascinating, over the top characters (the pick being the evil 'Black Michael'). It also seems at times that you're reading a movie script - the book is full of big, rousing lines that sound just like they've come out of the movies, designed either to excite or tug at the heart strings.
The back cover describes it as a 'swashbuckling adventure and a tender love story', it is indeed and so much more. In short, this book has a bit of everything and there is no more enjoyable read. At least i've not found one yet.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
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.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Well Worth A Look 21 Jun 2007
People have criticised this book for being far-fetched, well, I suppose it is a little, but then so is Tolkien. If you can suspend belief for him, then why not Mr Hope?

It tells the tale of Rupert Rassendyll, who visits the fictional country of Ruritania. There is something of a power struggle going on, with the Black Duke planning a Coup on the throne. As his plot comes to fruition, we discover a remarkable resemblance between our hero, and the soon to be crowned prince. He must carry on an intrigue with the princess/cousin (very dubious), act as the King, while simultaenously try to free the King who is being held at Zenda. And he must contend with 'the six' who serve the Duke.

The book is short and concise, and 'feels' longer than it is. Considering it is only 140 pages, I was surprised that it had equivalent content of a book of over 300 pages. That may seem like a bizarre claim, but Hope squeezes a lot of content. It is also eminently readable for this Victorian style, and the characters surprisingly strong.

All in all, a nice little book that should appeal to a wide audience. Hope is not so widely recognised as other classic authors, but deserves to be read, and, if your reading this, you could do far worse with two quid.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A quick enjoyable read in the Dumas mode 29 Dec 2010
By H. Tee
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I'll not bother to repeat the other detailed reviews only give you a list of reasons to read this book:
1) It's a classic that's short and readable
2) It has a cinematic story line in the classic prince/pauper or parent trap double mode
3) It has swashbuckling that's would suit any Dumas storyline (try Three Musketeers if you have the time)
4) It doesn't have a boring "alls well that ends well" predictable ending
5) Implausibilities are few and reasonable given the basic story premise (Unlike King Solomons Mines which I won't recommend)

Worth a reasonable 4 stars. I'd suggest this is a good start to follow with some of the other `cinematic' Popular classics; Ivanhoe, Hunchback of Notredame, Moonfleet, Phantom of the Opera, 39 steps, Riddle of the Sands, Wuthering Heights
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