Rupert of Hentzau - Anthony Hope 2.5 – 3 stars
Rupert of Hentzau is an enjoyable swashbuckler, though I remember The Prisoner of Zenda 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.