Ruritania, a beautiful kingdom in the mountains between Germany and Austria, is in the midst of a power struggle. On one side is the alcoholic layabout crown prince, Rudolf—popular with the upper class and army—and on the other is his half brother, Michael, who has the love of the common people. The struggle reaches a new fervor at Rudolf’s coronation, when Michael kidnaps his brother and takes him to the Castle of Zenda. Now the only thing in the way of Black Michael’s plan is a confused distant cousin in England.
But a man named Rudolf Rassendyll could ruin Michael’s plan. Rassendyll bears a striking resemblance to the kidnapped king Rudolf. After the king’s disappearance, Rassendyll poses as the sovereign in order to maintain order—and finds that it is up to him to find the rightful ruler.
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Set in the fictional country of Ruritania, The Prisoner of Zenda tells the story of Rudolf Rassendyll, identical cousin to King Rudolf of Ruritania, who must stand in for the king at his coronation when a plot to steal the crown leaves the king drugged and unable to attend. Rudolf must foil the plans of the king’s brother, Prince Michael, and when the king is kidnapped and taken to a castle in Zenda, Rudolf must overcome the plots of the prince’s mistress and his henchman in order to rescue him.
Anthony Hope’s swashbuckling adventure is held up as his greatest work of fiction and sparked its own genre, Ruritanian romance, named after the fictional country in which the story is set.
Rudolf must return to the troubled kingdom to defeat Hentzau, where he is embroiled once more in a world of deception, intrigue, deadly swordfights and torn loyalties. With the stakes higher than ever, will he pay the ultimate price?
Regarded by many critics as the finest adventure story ever written -- and certainly one of the most popular -- The Prisoner of Zenda (1894) tells the story of Rudolf Rassendyl, a dashing English gentleman who bears an uncanny resemblance to the ruler of the fictional kingdom of Ruritania. Rassendyl masquerades as the king in order to save the country from a treacherous plot and secures the release of the wronged prisoner. In the process he wins the heart of the beautiful princess Flavia, but ultimately surrenders the crown and the hand of his beloved princess to the rightful ruler.
Rupert of Hentzau, which ends in tragedy rather than triumph, is the darker, more problematic sequel to The Prisoner of Zenda. Full of swash-buckling feats of heroism as well as witty irony, these adventure tales are also wonderfully executed satires on late nineteenth-century European politics.
Edgar Rice Burroughs
With an Introduction by Gore Vidal
Set amid the vibrant colors and sounds of the African jungle, this classic work has beckoned generations of readers toward a glorious journey of pure adventure. This is the story of the ape-man Tarzan, raised in the wild, and how he learns the secrets of the jungle to survive. When his paradise is invaded by white men, Tarzan’s life changes. Speaking directly to our childhood fantasies, Tarzan of the Apes takes us to that faraway place in our minds where dreams prevail—and where we too can be masters of our environment.
The Prisoner of Zenda
With an Introduction by Justin Kaplan
A perilous impersonation, a forbidden romance, a bold rescue, and a battle to the death against a malevolent foe in his ancient lair—these form the key elements in one of the greatest and most irresistible novels of adventure ever written. In the mythical kingdom of Ruritania, Rudolf Rassendyll is called upon to impersonate the abducted heir to the throne—and he soon finds himself engaged to a beautiful princess whom he can love only while living a lie. Between its vivid emotion and unflagging action, The Prisoner of Zenda is the ultimate reading experience for those who seek to escape into a world of danger, daring, and noble deeds.
Anthony Hope’s The Prisoner of Zenda was enormously influential, and inspired a new genre—the Ruritanian romance—as well a number of sequels and adaptations in both print and on screen.
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Courtland went off early next morning in the dog-cart to Fairhaven station—no railway line ran nearer Milldean—and Grantley Imason spent the morning lounging about his house, planning what improvements could be made and what embellishments provided against the coming of Sibylla. He enjoyed this pottering both for its own sake and because it was connected with the thought of the girl he loved. For he was in love—as much in love, it seemed to him, as a man could well be. "And I ought to know," he said, with a smile of reminiscence, his mind going back to earlier affairs of the heart, more or less serious, which had been by no means lacking in his career. He surveyed them without remorse, though one or two might reasonably have evoked that emotion, and with no more regret than lay in confessing that he had shared the follies common to his age and his position. But he found great satisfaction in the thought that Sibylla had had nothing to do with any of the persons concerned. She had known none of them; she was in no sense of the same set with any one of the five or six women of whom he was thinking; her surroundings had always been quite different from theirs. She came into his life something entirely fresh, new, and unconnected with the past. Herein lay a great deal of the charm of this latest, this final affair. For it was to be final—for his love's sake, for his honour's sake, and also because it seemed time for such finality in that ordered view of life and its stages to which his intellect inclined him. There was something singularly fortunate in the chance which enabled him to suit his desire to this conception, to find the two things in perfect harmony, to act on rational lines with such a full and even eager assent of his feelings.
He reminded himself, with his favourite shrug, that to talk of chance was to fall into an old fallacy; but the sense of accident remained. The thing had been so entirely unplanned. He had meant to buy a place in the North; it was only when the one he wanted had been snapped up by somebody else that the agents succeeded in persuading him to come and look at the house at Milldean. It happened to take his fancy, and he bought it. Then he happened to be out of sorts, and stayed down there an unbroken month, instead of coming only from Saturday to Monday. Again, Sibylla and Jeremy had meant to go away when the rector died, and had stayed on only because Old Mill House happened to fall vacant so opportunely. No other house was available in the village. So the chances went on, till chance culminated in that meeting of his with Sibylla: not their first encounter, but the one he always called his meeting with her in his own thoughts—that wonderful evening when all the sky was red, and the earth too looked almost red, and the air was so still. Then he had been with her in his garden, and she, forgetful of him, had turned her eyes to the heavens, and gazed and gazed. Presently, and still, as it seemed, unconsciously, she had stretched out her hand and caught his in a tight grip, silently but urgently demanding his sympathy for thoughts and feelings she could not express. At that moment her beauty seemed to be born for him, and he had determined to make it his. He smiled now, saying that he had been as impulsive as the merest boy, thanking fortune that he could rejoice in the impulse instead of condemning it—an end which a priori would have seemed much the more probable. In nine cases out of ten it would have been foolish and disastrous to be carried away in an instant like that. In his case it had, at any rate, not proved disastrous. From that moment he had never turned back from his purpose, and he had nothing but satisfaction in its now imminent accomplishment.
“My dear Rose,” I answered, laying down my egg-spoon, “why in the world should I do anything? My position is a comfortable one. I have an income nearly sufficient for my wants (no one’s income is ever quite sufficient, you know), I enjoy an enviable social position: I am brother to Lord Burlesdon, and brother-in-law to that charming lady, his countess. Behold, it is enough!”
“You are nine-and-twenty,” she observed, “and you’ve done nothing but—”
“Knock about? It is true. Our family doesn’t need to do things.”
Rudolf Rassendyll is a life-tested Englishman visiting a small Central European kingdom named Ruritania. The soon-to-be king of Ruritania, Rudolf, fourth of his name shares many physical features with the Englishman but because of his royal blood, he remains naïve and unchallenged. His evil brother, Prince Michael hates him and doesn’t want Rudolf to take the crown so he kidnaps him, leaving him in the small town of Zenda. Luckily for Ruritania though, Rudolf Rassendyll is willing to save the day.,This book has been professionally formatted for e-readers and contains a bonus book club leadership guide and discussion questions. We hope you’ll share this book with your friends, neighbors and colleagues and can’t wait to hear what you have to say about it.
Rudolf Rassendyll, an Englishman, travels to Ruritania expecting a normal vacation. But when he discovers that a very distant and nearly identical cousin is to be crowned king of Ruritania, things take a turn for the strange. His cousin, Rudolph IV, falls for a plot to take the crown and Rudolf Rassendyll must act as temporary king.
What ensues is a swashbuckling adventure with just the right amount of action, romance, and mystery—an absolute must for adventure fans of all ages.
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