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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thilling and epic tale
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...
Published on 24 Sept. 2004 by moonie70

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3 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Old style adventure that still has appeal
Written when plot twists in thrillers weren't ten-a-penny, this thoroughly enjoyable mistaken-identity yarn doesn't attempt anything more than entertaining the reader. It succeeds.
Published on 4 Sept. 1999


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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thilling and epic tale, 24 Sept. 2004
This review is from: The Prisoner of Zenda (Penguin Popular Classics) (Paperback)
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
5.0 out of 5 stars The Prisoner of Zenda, Anthony Hope - THE classic adventure story, 2 Feb. 2011
By 
Victor (Hull, England) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Prisoner of Zenda (Penguin Popular Classics) (Paperback)
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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5.0 out of 5 stars A Really Swish Swash Buckler, 10 May 2010
This review is from: The Prisoner of Zenda (Penguin Popular Classics) (Paperback)
A REVIEW OF 'THE PRISONER OF ZENDA' by ANTHONY HOPE

First published in 1894, and not out-of-print since, 'The Prisoner of Zenda' remains one of the slickest, sharpest and most entertaining of novels loosely bracketed as swash-bucklers. The story revolves around an English aristocrat, Rupert Rassendyll, and his adventures impersonating the kidnapped king of distant Ruritania, whose abduction by a band of villains takes place on the eve of his coronation.

Even from this scant synopsis, it is clear that the essential plot of 'The Prisoner of Zenda' is not brimming with originality. The idea of a doppelganger impersonator is a centuries-old story device. Only thirteen years earlier in 1881, Mark Twain had exploited the same basic scenario in his 'Prince & The Pauper'. More recently, John Sullivan played the same trick in a Christmas special 'Only Fools & Horses'!

However, leaving aside minor quibbles about Anthony Hope's reliance upon an old literary chestnut, what 'The Prisoner of Zenda' lacks in originality, it more than compensates for elsewhere. Firstly, in leading man, Rupert Rassendyll, Hope creates a daring, but believable character who quickly wins the reader's support. Throw in the rascally adversary, Black Michael, the beautiful Princess Flavia, plus a couple of staunch allies, and the gang's all here for a right royal romp! Secondly, the novel's pace is a great strength. In its relatively few pages, it packs in a wealth of intrigue, adventure and action, offering no flabby character analysis or philosophising. Compare this to Alexandre Dumas' word-fests which work so well today in abridged versions. Thirdly, the setting (Ruritania, being a thinly-veiled southern Germany with Gothic castles and forests galore) is the perfect backdrop for a tale of bravery and rescue.

In short, 'The Prisoner of Zenda' survives as tremendous entertainment for all fans of derring-do and adventure. Whilst it might be pushing things to far (as some of done) to compare Rassendyll to 007, it is possible to see the early shoots of the 20th century spy thriller emerging from the novel's pages. Indeed, one can be fairly certain that a copy of Zenda sat snugly on the shelves of Ian Fleming and John Buchan to name but a few. And if those two hypothetical fans don't twist your arm, then Robert Louis Stevenson was definitely an admirer and wrote to Hope to sing the book's praises. High praise indeed for a worthy tale.

Barty's Score: 9/10

PS. If you enjoyed this review, have a skim through all of my reviews to find other authors whose books I have enjoyed. For example, if 'The Prisoner of Zenda' won you over, why not try 'The Great Impersonation' by E. Phillips Oppenheim?
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4.0 out of 5 stars A quick enjoyable read in the Dumas mode, 29 Dec. 2010
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This review is from: The Prisoner of Zenda (Penguin Popular Classics) (Paperback)
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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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Well Worth A Look, 21 Jun. 2007
By 
Mr. D. J. Read (Alnwick, Northumberland United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Prisoner of Zenda (Penguin Popular Classics) (Paperback)
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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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A classic adventure story, 27 Jan. 2008
By 
HORAK (Zug, Switzerland) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Prisoner of Zenda (Penguin Popular Classics) (Paperback)
Wealthy and young Rudolph Rassendyll visits Ruritania looking for adventure and amusement and he is suddenly involved in action beyond his wildest dreams. Indeed Rassendyll is the image of the young king, whom Black Michael plans to destroy unless a daring deception can rescue him...
The novel is very well read by Andy Minter for librivox.org
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3 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Old style adventure that still has appeal, 4 Sept. 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: The Prisoner of Zenda (Penguin Popular Classics) (Paperback)
Written when plot twists in thrillers weren't ten-a-penny, this thoroughly enjoyable mistaken-identity yarn doesn't attempt anything more than entertaining the reader. It succeeds.
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The Prisoner of Zenda (Penguin Popular Classics)
The Prisoner of Zenda (Penguin Popular Classics) by Anthony Hope (Paperback - 27 Sept. 2007)
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