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The Henchmen of Zenda

The Henchmen of Zenda

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517356,153 (4.05)2
Title:The Henchmen of Zenda
Info:Publisher Unknown, 232 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:z-favorite-authors, time-19th-century-or-earlier, theme-lgbt, genre-historical, read

Work details

The Henchmen of Zenda by KJ Charles

  1. 00
    Flashman by George MacDonald Fraser (nessreader)
    nessreader: A cad's eye view of the victorian world ; swashbuckling and cynicism

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Showing 1-5 of 7 (next | show all)
I didn't read The Prisoner of Zenda so I wasn't sure how much I would understand this book and how much I would like it. But I was unnecessarily afraid. Ultimately, this is the book of K.J. Charles. It had to be great.

That being said, nothing beats my love for The Magpie Lord series. Nothing can match the greatness of this series for a long time.

But back to The Henchmen of Zenda, if you've read The Prisoner of Zenda before, this story will probably give you even more pleasure. But even if, like me, you haven't read that book, this story is complete and interesting as a wholly separate work. You can easily read it without worrying that there will be some shortcomings in the story. And I must admit that it is full of twists and turns, action and unexpected events. The complicated political intrigue (again, I can't assess how much this is the author's idea) draws you in entirely and holds you long at night.

We also have some very good heroes here. Jasper Detchard - disgraced British officer, cold and inaccessible, but with his own moral code, whose life forced to become a blade for hire. And Rupert of Hentzau - a young adventurer and playfellow who is only fully discovering the dark aspects of life as a hire killer. They both love risk and are addicted to it. The only thing I can complain about is that they are not fully developed. Or at least I think so. I would like to know more about them.

This also applies to their romance. I have not the slightest doubt that there is desire between them. Even some deeper feelings, especially towards the end. Although it is probably more a brotherhood combined with friendship than love. The epilogue also rather indicates this. On the other hand, it's not such a problem for me. Then again, amidst the excellent political intrigue, I would be happy to see more of the feelings being born between them. Either way, they make a great couple of friends, regardless of being lovers.

It was a new experience for me also because for the first time I partly listened to the audiobook version. I am not convinced that this is something for me, especially since English is not my native language and reading is easier for me (although I can probably get used to it after some time). But I liked the audio version and the reader, Antony Ferguson, did a good job. It encourages me to try the audiobook again in the future.
( )
  Sarielle | Jan 15, 2020 |
A delightfully queer send-up of the Ruritanian classic, Prisoner of Zenda. I was wary of the premise (the hero of Prisoner was a lying cad and the villains have their own version of events to put forward) because I loved Rassendyll in PoZ, but of course, Charles completely won me over with her no-nonsense portrayal of our new anti-hero, Detchard. Ultimately, the biggest weakness of this book was that it's hard to follow without knowing Prisoner of Zenda well, but PoZ is well worth a read or three. ( )
  epaulettes | Jan 3, 2019 |
An enjoyable piece of froth, essentially slash fanfiction based on The Prisoner of Zenda, but told with Charles's typical style and panache. Events from Anthony Hope's classic swashbuckling novel are retold from the point of view of Jasper Detchard, sword-for-hire and disgraced Englishman, who enters the service of 'Black Michael', the Duke of Strelsau in Ruritania. Here he finds himself at the heart of the struggle for the crown between Michael and his red-headed half-brother Rudolf, which is taken in an unexpected direction by the arrival of a remarkable stranger. Given the complexity of the plot, I'd stress the importance of having have read Hope's original if you want to get all the jokes - and also understand the significance of Charles's plotting, because Henchmen is far from a mere shift of narrator. Instead, Charles presents a very different take on events: Rudolf V of Ruritania is not a displaced hero, but a louche drunkard with unpleasant habits; Princess Flavia is far more active in the succession crisis than anyone would give her credit for; and Detchard has been attracted not by Black Michael's money but by an obligation to an old friend.

At the heart of the story, predictably for Charles (and no doubt welcomed by her legions of fans) is the increasing sexual tension between Detchard and the effusive, dashing young scoundrel Rupert of Hentzau. Rupert was my favourite character in the original story, so reading this required a certain mental shift - but Charles is evidently as fond of him as I am. Preserving much of the brio of the original, Henchmen is an affectionate tribute to (and take-down of?) an adventure classic. I'll confess that I didn't love it quite as much as the other reviewers did - at the end of the day, it *is* fanfiction and so it's much more derivative than Charles's other brilliant books - but it's fun, fluffy and full of derring-do. I'll never be able to look at Rupert of Hentzau in quite the same way again, though... ( )
  TheIdleWoman | Nov 15, 2018 |
Retelling of The Prisoner of Zenda from the POV of one of the bad guys, who’s actually not so bad but helping the usurper half-brother in order to repay a debt of honor to said usurper’s (at this point unwilling) mistress. He falls in lust, then in love, with another of the henchmen, and they plot to save themselves and the lady; it’s elaborate enough to match the original source. I enjoyed it. ( )
2 vote rivkat | Sep 28, 2018 |
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