Thursday, 18 May 2000

Anthony Hope: Rupert of Hentzau (1898)

Edition: Heron
Review number: 505

The sequel to The Prisoner of Zenda usually seems to be printed along with it; there are many novels longer than these two put together. Some years elapse between the two, which Rudolf Rassendyll spends in England while Flavia, now married to the King of Ruritania whose place Rudolf had taken, continues to love him from a distance. Each year she sends a single red rose to him, as a token of her continued love. Eventually, as her husband becomes more insanely jealous of the man he realises to be better than he is, she realises that things cannot continue, and sends a letter with the most recent rose saying that contact will no longer be possible. Unfortunately, this is the year in which Rupert of Hentzau, the one surviving member of the gang which originally kidnapped the king, manages to intercept the letter. Thus Rudolf has to return to Ruritania, in a desperate attempt to regain the letter before Rupert can show it to the king and destroy the queen's honour.

The whole novel is far more melancholy than its predecessor; there is nothing lighthearted about the adventure this time around. The whole thing builds up to a finish which seems designed to prevent any further sequels, and which provides a wrench to the reader that is most unusual in a thriller.

No comments: