2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Action, adventure and romance,
This review is from: The Prisoner of Zenda (Penguin Classics) (Mass Market Paperback)
Due to a royal indiscretion in a former generation Rudolf Rassendyll, second son of an English aristocratic family, looks exactly like the King of Ruritania. So when he travels to that country for the coronation, it's not long before he's drawn into a series of adventures involving illegitimate brothers, murder plots, daring rescues and true love with the beautiful princess Flavia...
Written in 1894 this epitomises the late Victorian romance full of honourable, gentlemanly heroes, caddish villains, swords and revolvers and plenty of action. This isn't at all a contemplative book but it's a brilliant read with fully-rounded characters, danger, action and even some quite moving romance. It reminds me of The Three Musketeers (Oxford World's Classics) set in a different historical context.
The most interesting character, for me, is Rupert of Hentzau, one of the most debonaire villains ever who later gets a whole sequel to himself.
The poignancy of this book is that it must have been a bestseller amongst so many of the men, especially officers, who went off to the first world war so enthused about the glory and honour of war - only to be slaughtered in their millions and disillusioned so completely.
So this really is a book rooted in a very different era where a gentleman's honour and courtesey were everything. A wonderful read.