Friday, February 22, 2013
Phroso by Sir Anthony Hope
Oddly enough, not much else of Hope's long body of work is remembered. Thanks to Project Gutenberg, however, they are not lost. Lately I've noticed a bunch of them cropping up on the daily tweets of new books that Gutenberg announces.
I hadn't read his other works, I admit. The one most known, The Dolly Dialogs, was not an adventure, so I paid little attention. However I haunt the Gutenberg announcements Twitter feed, looking for illustrated work, and I came across an adventure book he wrote not long after Rupert of Hentzau.
So I downloaded it and I'm reading it, and I'm excited about it.
Like Zenda, Phroso is "a Romance" in both senses of the word. (At the time, "romance" usually referred to the adventure genre, and implied that it was, um, not true to life. Early science fiction stories were often called "planetary romances," for instance.) Also like Zenda, it's about a hearty young Englishman of bold character, who takes a vacation in a fictional country and finds himself caught up in all sorts of skullduggery. (Zenda actually defined this genre originally -- it's called a "Ruritanian Romance" named after the nation of Ruritania where Zenda takes place.)
AND... that story turns out to be only the beginning. By the end of the first act, the story takes some pretty significant turns....
This is one of the curses of ebooks, btw. That first act feels like a whole book, so I thought I would be done reading this before I posted today. But it's actually 96,000 words long, and I'm now a little over halfway done, and I'm completely hooked.
This one seems to be setting up for a happier ending than Prisoner of Zenda (but I am not counting on it; you know what those Victorians are like).
You can download a well formatted copy of Phroso in multiple formats (with or without illustrations) on the main Phroso page, or you can read it online in your browser.
See you in the funny papers.