The Prisoner of Zenda
This is a re-read, but I've decided to review all books as I read them, provided they haven't yet made it onto the site. Which means you will not get a review of Lord of the Rings every three months, but you do get to hear about The Prisoner of Zenda today.
For a long* time I listed this book when asked my "favorite**." It's a clever and moving tale of high adventure, full of sword fights, intrigue, daring, and frantic gallops across small European countries. It reminds me very much of the film description of The Princess Bride: "Fencing, fighting, torture, revenge, giants, monsters, chases, escapes, true love, miracles...."
Set in mythical Ruritania, The Prisoner of Zenda concerns a young English aristocrat, left enough money by his father to allow a life of whim and leisure. When he goes to see the coronation of the new King of Ruritania, he discovers a plot against the sovereign, to whom he bears a striking resemblance. To save the throne, he agrees to sit in for the kidnapped king, buying time for a desperate rescue attempt. Unfortunately, he inadvertantly wins the heart of the princess, and must choose whether to live the honorable man or continue the masquerade to fulfill the desire of his heart.
Though interlaced with questions of honor, loyalty, and valour, The Prisoner of Zenda never forgets that it is a tale of heart-pounding adventure. It has well earned its place as one of the top three swashbuckling adventures I've ever read.
*when it comes to the life of my obsessions, "long time" can be reasonably defined as 6-18 months.
**While I am firmly of the opinion that an avid reader can have a favorite book just as realistically as one can have a favorite skin cell, people persist in asking this question, so I generally try to remember a standard answer.
Serendipity and silkworms:
8 months ago