Rudolf Rassendyll, brother of Lord Burlesdon, is classic Brittish nobility — he can ride, hunt, sword fight, and be polite to monarchs. He also has a bit of a questionable past. There is a story told in the family that, a generation or two ago, the Prince of neighboring Ruritania had visited England and there fell in love. After a steamy affair (only hinted at in the novel) there is a duel and the Prince flees back to Ruritania. But nine months later there is an illegitimate child. And it’s true that Rudolf looks nothing like the rest of his family.
Rudolf decides to visit Ruritania and see for himself. While there, he discovers he looks exactly like the about-to-be-crowned king. This is convenient for, of course, the king has a deadly enemy, Black Michael, who is trying to steal the throne. So when the true king drinks drugged wine; Rudolf has to be his stand-in at the coronation. And when the true king is captured and held prisoner at the castle Zenda, Rudolf must continue the charade, up to and including wooing the beautiful Princess Flavia.
Many of the plot devices will seem tired to the modern reader but when this book was first written in 1894, it was a sensation. And certainly the story stands the test of time. This book has it all: a noble hero, a beautiful princess, a love that can never be, honor, nobility, you name it. And after all, who doesn’t love a good swash-buckling tale of deception, intrigue and true love?
Campfire is becoming known for their accurate adaptations of classic works into graphic novels. They are good at distilling a wordy narrative while keeping the main plot. Their illustrations are solid and lush, adding to the story. There is a nice illustrated Cast of Characters and small biography of the original author at the beginning and an illustrated glossary of castle terminology at the end.
Good for middle school and up (no blood, no sex, no swearing, some swordplay and scheming).
Prisoner of Zenda
by Lloyde S. Wagner (adaptor), Anthony Hope (writer)
Art by Lalit Sharma
Campfire Press, 2010
Publisher Age Rating: (12 and up)