What I Read in October

October was not a good month of reading for me. I was stuck on a book that I’m not sure I like, though I’m not far enough in to make a judgement. (Acacia by David Anthony Durham) I did read three books on my phone, though. Sorry for how quick these reviews are, I’m writing this while taking a short break from NaNoWriMo to do this.

The Beasts of Tarzan.
Edgar Rice Burroughs.

This book is one long chase scene, with Tarzan trying to rescue Jane and their child from some angry Russians. It doesn’t have the same pop of the some of Burroughs best work. It feels contrived and ridiculous. The only interesting part is the introduction of Tarzan’s pet leopard, Sheeta. I have largely been a fan of the Burroughs books that I’ve read, but this is easily the weakest of his I’ve read.

The Prisoner of Zenda
Anthony Hope.

This is a damn fine adventure novel. Rudolf Rassendyll visit’s a country ruled by his supposed cousins (due to illegitimacy long ago.), only to get involved in a conspiracy dealing with that ruling family. Since Rudolf looks exactly like he cousin Rudolf, he impersonates him to try to foil the evil Black Michael’s plot to steal the throne.

Rudolf, along with some of his cousin’s closest friends, manage to fool the people and fight Black Michael at every turn. Along the way, he falls in love with Flavia, the King’s fiance.

The Prisoner of Zenda is a short, brisk read. The action never lets up and while it occasionally melodramatic, it constantly entertaining.

Rupert of Hentzau
Anthony Hope

This is the sequel to Zenda, and Rudolf returns to Ruritania to defend his love against the villainous Rupert of Hentzau and the jealousy of the King.

It ends up with all the old faces playing the old games. Rudolf loves the Queen, but even after (spoilers!) the King dies he can’t bring himself to take his place, even though everyone wants him to.

It is as fine a sequel as possible, and they are both short enough to read together. I’ve seen these two books referred to as minor classics, and I think that is a good way to refer to them. Zenda and Hentzau are fine romantic adventures, but they definitely tend toward melodrama.

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