1898 1st edition; Sequel to the "Prisoner of Zenda"; "From the Memoirs of Fritz von Tarlenheim"; Henry Holt and Company publishers, New York; hardbound in burgundy boards with gilt stamp decor and lettering on cover and spine; minor soiling to boards - see pics; quite good condition with unmarked pages; black and white illustrations in very good condition; no dust jacket.
Rupert of Hentzau is a sequel by Anthony Hope to The Prisoner of Zenda, written in 1895, but not published until 1898.
The story is set within a framing narrative told by a supporting character from The Prisoner of Zenda. The frame implies that the events related in both books took place in the late 1870s and early 1880s. This story commences three years after the conclusion of Zenda, and deals with the same fictional country somewhere in Germanic Middle Europe, the kingdom of Ruritania. Most of the same characters recur: Rudolf Elphberg, the dissolute absolute monarch of Ruritania; Rudolf Rassendyll, the English gentleman who had acted as his political decoy, being his distant cousin and lookalike; Flavia, the princess, now queen; Rupert of Hentzau, the dashing well-born villain; Fritz von Tarlenheim, the loyal courtier; Colonel Sapt, the King's Bodyguard; Lieutenant von Bernenstein, the loyal soldier.
Queen Flavia, dutifully but unhappily married to her cousin Rudolf V, writes to her true love Rudolf Rassendyll. The letter is carried by von Tarlenheim and his servant Bauer to be delivered by hand, but Fritz is betrayed by Bauer and it is stolen by the exiled Rupert of Hentzau and his loyal cousin the Count of Luzau-Rischenheim. Hentzau sees in it a chance to return to favour by informing the pathologically jealous and paranoid King.
Rassendyll returns to Ruritania to aid the Queen, but is once more forced to impersonate the King after Rupert fatally shoots Rudolf V in a remote hunting lodge. After tracing Bauer to the house of Mother Holf, Rassendyll and Rupert engage in an epic duel. Hentzau is mortally wounded and Rassendyll burns the letter. However, he is assassinated in the hour of triumph by Bauer —and thus is spared the crisis of conscience over whether or not to continue the royal deception for years.
Rassendyll is buried as the King in a state funeral, while Sapt and Rassendyll's servant James stage a fire at the hunting lodge that burns the King's body beyond recognition. Rudolf V is buried as Rudolf Rassendyll, while Flavia reigns on alone, the last of the Elphberg dynasty.