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John Reed Scott is one of those authors that nobody seems to know about; he’s doesn’t even have a Wikipedia page! I’m apparently the only one who’s reviewed his books since the turn of the century and it’s very weird because his books are the PERFECT classic adventures.
I love classic adventure novels, like The Count of Monte Cristo and Captain Blood. Anything with action, romance, intrigue, attempted assassinations, sword fights is a thing I want to read, especially when the female characters actually do things integral to the plot!
This one, The Colonel of the Red Huzzars, is kinda like a Prisoner of Zenda story, only the mistaken identity is actually the protag’s TRUE identity. There’s a long-lost heir, snobby royalty, a femme fatale, weird late Victorian/early Edwardian rules for courting, men with fancy mustaches, and lots more!
It’s got pockets of humor, too:
Were you ever kissed by a man? If so, and you are a woman, it doubtless was pleasant enough, and, maybe, not unusual; but if you are a man, it will surprise you mightily the first time. (Page 26)
It also has that weird early 20th century chivalrous thing going on:
Beautiful? Of course; but do not ask me for description, other than that she was medium in height, willowy in figure and dark blonde in type. With that outline your imagination must fill in the rest. Words only caricature a glorious woman. (Page 33)
All in all, it’s a very satisfying book. It’s less misogynistic than you might expect from an old adventure book written by a dude, some terrifically exciting bits, and a ridiculously fun villain (or two).1
I accidentally read the sequel first, which I don’t recommend doing. Start with this one, be amazed, and THEN read The Princess Dehra.
Read: June 4-5, 2014
One of the big stinks in this book (and the sequel) is about heirs and succession and whatnot. It’d be SO MUCH EASIER if Dehra ruled: everybody loves her, she’s the king’s daughter, and she’s a very competent leader. Book could’ve been 10x more interesting if it had tried something like that!
- Interesting subplot romance between the villains continues in the second book. ↩