One of my favorite books—and perhaps my favorite of any adventure/swashbuckler—is Anthony Hope’s The Prisoner of Zenda. I began reading this book completely ignorant of its genre or plot. In fact, I believe it was one of the books I’d had on my shelf for a decade or so, and had originally purchased at a library used book sale just because I liked the cover and thought the title intriguing.
As it turns out, this book is one of those action-packed, romantic, larger-than-life plots set in a fictional, vaguely European country and peopled by beautiful heroines, dastardly villains, and chivalrous heroes.
Rudolph Rassendyll is an Englishman visiting the land of his ancestors, Ruritania. His visit coincides with the coronation of a distant cousin of his, also coincidentally named Rudolph. And, coincidentally, they happen to look exactly alike. All these coincidences are coincidentally fortunate because King-to-be Rudolph’s jealous brother Michael drugs the heir apparent and has him kept prisoner in a castle in the town of Zenda (hence the title).