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Rupert of Hentzau by Anthony Hope

Rupert of Hentzau (1898)

by Anthony Hope

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Ruritania (2)

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341632,181 (3.6)43



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Showing 1-5 of 6 (next | show all)
[I was doing some maintenance and decided to add some of my older reviews. I had to guess at a rating for this, since I read this during a period when I wasn't even privately rating books.]

One of the reasons why I didn't like The Prisoner of Zenda was because I didn't believe that Rassendyll had much reason to go to the lengths he did to save the King and Ruritania. In terms of motivation, I thought Rupert of Hentzau was a much better book. I could believe that Rassendyll would do all that he did to prevent Flavia's jealous husband from reading the love letter she wrote.

I don't know how this book was received at the time it was written. It wouldn't surprise me if it wasn't as popular as the first book, simply because it didn't start off with The Prisoner of Zenda's outrageous setup (an Englishman who looks just like the King of Ruritania is enlisted to pretend to be the King) and because of its tragic ending.

This book isn't completely without outrageousness. Rassendyll still gets to impersonate the King, and this time he needs to do his best to ensure that the King doesn't find out. At one point, Sapt and James, Rassendyll's servant, have to figure out what to do about a horrible mess Rupert leaves behind – their final decision was both fascinating to read and a little horrifying. Although I didn't always like what the characters did in order to help Flavia and Rassendyll, I do think the events in this book were more interesting to read about than the events in The Prisoner of Zenda.

I found the tragic ending to be something of a cop out. Flavia was more a real person in this book than she was in the previous one (in fact, I think Hope did an overall better job of depicting women in this book – or maybe Fritz von Tarlenheim just has a better opinion of women than Rassendyll?), but I still didn't like Rassendyll all that much. Because of that, I didn't really mind that things didn't turn out well for them (although I felt a little bad for Flavia). What I did mind was the feeling that Hope took the easy way out, by never revealing what Rassendyll's final decision was. The tragic ending felt like Hope's way of avoiding having to make a tough choice. As a reader, I found that very annoying.

It took me a bit of time to get used to this book's change in perspective – the first book was from Rassendyll's perspective, while this one was from Fritz von Tarlenheim's perspective. I suppose that should have told me something about how this book was going to end, especially since I think Hope would have had an easier time writing it from Rassendyll's perspective. There were several parts where Hope had to do a bit of stretching, to explain how Fritz could possibly have known the details about what happened, even though he wasn't there.

The perspective change may have been part of the reason why I liked some characters more this time around. Like I said, Flavia came across as more of a person...although I wasn't a fan of her repeated hysterical visions of Rassendyll's death. Had this book been my only exposure to Rassendyll, I might have liked him better, too, since, in Fritz's eyes, Rassendyll was practically perfect and certainly kingly. It wasn't that long ago I read The Prisoner of Zenda, though, and I could still remember my impression of Rassendyll as driftless and overly happy to charge headlong into fights. In this book, Fritz mentions that “Sapt would tell [the King] bluntly that Rudolf did this or that, set this precedent or that, laid down this or the other policy, and that the king could do no better than follow in Rudolf's steps,” but Sapt's memories of Rassendyll don't really gel with mine. I can't remember Rassendyll doing anything other than battling people and falling in love with Flavia.

I was a little annoyed that so many characters judged the King so harshly in comparison to Rassendyll, and I really didn't like the way things turned out for the King. Although I hadn't liked the King much either in the previous book, I felt sorry for him in this one. He was emotionally scarred by the events of the previous book, and Sapt, Fritz, and others recognized that, but that still didn't stop them from finding him to be less than kingly compared to Rassendyll. Is it any wonder that the King was overcome by paranoia at the mere thought of Rassendyll? The Queen sent love letters to Rassendyll behind her husband's back, and the King's supposed right-hand men aided her in this deception. Then the King's very identity was erased and replaced by the end of the book. I may not have liked him much, but I didn't think he deserved all that, and I could understand why he acted the way he did throughout the book.

Although there were some aspects of the book I didn't like, I do think this book was more enjoyable than the previous one, and I would be more likely to recommend it than The Prisoner of Zenda. I still don't consider Anthony Hope one of my better Project Gutenberg finds, though.

(Original review, with read-alikes and watch-alikes, posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.) ( )
  Familiar_Diversions | May 27, 2014 |
Three years after the events of The Prisoner of Zenda, the Englishman Rudolf Rassendyll is drawn back into the affairs of the state of Ruritania. His beloved Flavia, who sacrificed her personal happiness in order to marry the king, is unable to bear Rassendyll's absence any longer and pours out her heart in a deeply compromising letter. Unfortunately this same letter falls into the hands of the charming but thoroughly dastardly Rupert of Hentzau, who sees it as his opportunity to discredit the queen and regain his place in the king's favour. Rassendyll and his old friends Sapt and Fritz von Tarlenheim are once more drawn into a desperate race against time to save the queen's reputation and to confront Rupert of Hentzau once and for all.

This is a gloriously old-fashioned adventure, full of stiff upper lips, nobility and convoluted plots, and it reads like a comfy Sunday-afternoon matinee. If you've read The Prisoner of Zenda you'll know exactly what to expect, and if you have read Zenda then you must read this: it's effectively the second half of the story rather than a sequel for sequel's sake. If you haven't read The Prisoner of Zenda, you must read that first otherwise none of this will make any sense.

My one criticism, and it is an important technical point, is that the narration in this book isn't handled as well as in Zenda. Fritz von Tarlenheim is much less engaging than Rudolf and, since he's invalided out of the action at an early point, Hope is forced to use an unconvincing first-person omniscient approach which can feel clunky. Fortunately the book is so fun - and moves with such momentum - that I was far too busy ducking pistol shots and dodging swords to worry overmuch about the technicalities.

For a longer review, please see my blog:
http://theidlewoman.blogspot.co.uk/2014/01/rupert-of-hentzau-anthony-hope.html ( )
  TheIdleWoman | Jan 25, 2014 |
This is the sequel to Prisoner of Zenda, where Rudolf Rasendyll returns to Ruritania to save the queen's honour and finds himself even more closely involved in the country's politics than three years before. I actually preferred this to Zenda, it seemed less comedic and was really gripping in parts, especially towards the end. ( )
1 vote john257hopper | Aug 3, 2013 |
2.5 – 3 stars
[b:Rupert of Hentzau|54495|Rupert of Hentzau|Anthony Hope|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1170439665s/54495.jpg|2661175] is an enjoyable swashbuckler, though I remember [b:The Prisoner of Zenda|54492|The Prisoner of Zenda|Anthony Hope|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1170439625s/54492.jpg|2661176] being better. We rejoin the major players remaining from the first novel three years later when a new crisis threatens the queen’s honour (she’s not very bright, alas) and the dastardly rogue Rupert of Hentzau gets his hands on a letter written by her majesty to her former lover Rudolph Rassendyll. Of course Rudolph must speed to her rescue and once again take up his imposture of the King of Ruritania while that somewhat feckless cuckold is still on the throne and not, this time, safely tucked away in a prison.

There were a few twists in the plot that I didn’t quite expect, though in retrospect I probably should have. As I said, overall an enjoyable romp, but it had a few things I took issue with: 1) most of the convenient elements of the plot that occurred to increase tension were mainly due to the general stupidity of the heroes; I mean, there were times when even *they* knew what they should have done and they didn’t do it anyway. 2) The majority of the characters are pills. The queen, as stated, is really not very bright and her constant swooning over events (and Rudolph) got a little tiresome, I really don’t see why any of the men who were so devoted to her would have wasted their time given her personality. The ostensible narrator, Fritz von Tarlenheim, is almost as stupid, though not quite. Rassendyll, the ostensible hero of the piece, is a cipher, or more correctly an acquisition straight out of central casting for “stiff-necked noble hero”. The only really interesting characters were, obviously, the villain of the piece Rupert of Hentzau, of whom there was far too little in the text even though his name is on the title, and good old pragmatic Colonel Sapt, apparently the only one of the heroes with a working brain in his head and of whom there was just enough.

Alright, all of that sounds so critical that you may be wondering how I could give this anything more than a rating of 2. Well, I am willing to give this one some leeway given the era in which it was written and the fact that it was merely going along with the expectations of the day. Also, it’s a classic in the genre, so that bumps it up a bit too. Add to that the fact that Hope’s prose is well-wrought and the fact that I didn’t see the final twist in the plot until just before it occurred (though I really should have)and I think the rating just about squeaks in at 2.5-3 stars. This was another librivox recording and I was again lucky with the narrator, Andy Minter did a great job of it. All in all a fun swashbuckler.
( )
  dulac3 | Apr 2, 2013 |
Rupert of Hentzau is the sequel to Anthony Hope's adventure classic The Prisoner of Zenda. One of the primary villains of the first book was Rupert of Hentzau, whose charismatic and colorful villainy commanded a sort of respect from even his worst enemies. Rupert escapes at the end of the first book, in order to reappear as the leading villain of this story. He manages to get a hold of a compromising letter that Queen Flavia had written to Rudolf, and threatens to use it for blackmail. The Queen's honor is at stake and it's up to the small cadre of heroes from the first book to hunt down Rupert and destroy the fateful letter.

Somehow Rupert loses the distinctive flourish he had in the first book. Rudolf is similarly changed; I thought him was a bit too strictly moral in this story as opposed to his more lighthearted, devil-may-care self in Zenda. Maybe it was just that he had matured into a man, or maybe it was Flavia's love that elevated him to such heights... but I preferred his former self. It must have been such fun for Hope to write a character like that.

The story is told in the first person by Fritz. I rather missed Rudolf's humorous narration from the first book, but Fritz is tolerable. The writing is decent as well — nothing really special. The action is engaging and the characters are pretty good. It reminds me a great deal of Henryk Sienkiewicz's Polish trilogy (only much, much shorter, of course!).

This is the sort of book that is enjoyable despite the end. It seemed Hope was taking the easy way out and not diminishing Rudolf's character by making him take either of the choices afforded him. It is rather maddening at the end, to not know what Rudolf had decided. I don't want to give away any more than that. That ending is what shaved off the extra half-star on my rating for this book. ( )
5 vote atimco | Jul 8, 2008 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Anthony Hopeprimary authorall editionscalculated
Godfrey, MichaelIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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A man who has lived in the world, marking how every art, although in itself perhaps light and insignificant, may become the source of consequences that spread far and wide, and flow for years or centuries, could scarcely feel secure in reckoning that with the death of the Duke of Strelsau and the restoration of King Rudolf to liberty and this throne, there would end, for good and all, the troubles born of Black Michael's daring conspiracy.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0141035838, Paperback)

Rudolf Rassendyll, having heroically saved the kingdom of Ruritania and nobly given up the hand of the beautiful Princess Flavia, has returned to his normal life in England. But when, three years later, Flavia, now the unhappily married Queen of Ruritania, sends him a love letter, it is stolen by the exiled villain Rupert Hentzau. Rudolf's former adversary has been waiting for the chance to have his revenge, and this provides the perfect opportunity to stir up trouble. 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?

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:04:58 -0400)

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"A sequel to The Prisoner of Zenda, concludes the long feud betweent Rupert of Hentzau and Rudolph Rassendyll" --Provided by publisher.

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