Monday, April 14, 2008

The Prisoner of Zenda by Anthony Hope

Source: Librivox (zipped mp3s)
Length: 5 hr, 42 min
Reader: Andy Minter

The book: This was a book I downloaded on a whim, just because I was going on a trip and needed a book about 5 hours long. Now, it's one of my favorite books from Librivox. From the plot description, I wasn't expecting much: Rudolf Rassendyll, an English aristocrat visits the (fictional) European kingdom of Ruritania and discovers that he looks exactly like Ruritania's king. To defeat an attempted coup, he assumes the throne in the king's place and begins a counter-plot to rescue the king.

This set-up sounds like a cliche, something you've already read in The Prince and the Pauper or seen in the movie Dave. However, I found the novel to be funny and entertaining, with enough twists to the basic switcharoo plot to keep me interested. The story has a little bit of everything: dry humor, swordfighting, romance, intrigue, and innuendo. With such breadth, The Prisoner of Zenda should be a good pick for just about anyone, though middle school guys should especially enjoy it.

Rating: 9/10

The reader: I could listen to just about anything that Andy Minter reads; it's a bonus that he's reading such a fun novel. The first person narration allows Minter's deadpan British accent brings out Rudolf's dry wit. Minter doesn't perform voices, so it can be difficult at times to tell who is talking, though the text is usually clear on this point. There is a bit of exhalation and page turning noises in the recording, but the sound is otherwise clean.


Anonymous said...

There are so many other works based on this one, it's great to hear the original. You are right about Andy Minter's reading. The Prisoner of Zenda was the first Librivox I listened to. I didn't get it from their website though. After the first chapter I went to search online to check whether this reading was realy in the public domain; it sounds so professional!

Listener said...

I understand how you could think it's not in the public domain - the language sounds so fresh and the recording, as you say, sounds professional. Could I ask where you got it from if not from Librivox?

Anonymous said...

I found it at
Neither the site, nor the recording of the first chapter mention Librivox, hence my confusion.

I had actually visited Librivox before, but was put off by the recordings that I had downloaded at the time. I gave it another because of 'The prisoner of Zenda' and I'm glad I did :)

Be sure to read the sequel: 'Rupert of Hentzau'!