The ultimate escapist adventure story, The Prisoner of Zenda transports the listener into a bygone era, awash with swashbuckling heroism, cunning plots, and courtly love. The popularity of Hope’s tale of intrigue was such that it spawned an entirely new genre known as the "Ruritanian romance".
When the King of Ruritania is kidnapped, the onus falls on a British tourist, who bears an uncanny resemblance to the king, to stand in for him and to avert disaster by coming to his rescue. The frequent replays of the film with Ronald Colman and Douglas Fairbanks Jr. testify to the continuing popularity of this evergreen adventure. Andrew Pugsley’s reading captures the excitement and the momentum.
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The biggest problem for Andrew Pugsley in his narration is nothing he can control: His fine interpretation of Hope's novel must compete, for some of us, with the 1937 film version, one of the greatest of all adventure movies. This is the classic story of the man who attempts to rescue the king of Ruritania, who has been abducted. However, he's undermined by his love for the king's fiancée. The story is full of swordplay (and a little gunplay), barely repressed passion, political maneuvering, and severely tested personal honor. And Pugsley meets the challenge with all the voices and with his portrayal of Rassendyll's evolution from wastrel to man of action and honor.
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