Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea
Professor Arronax is on an expedition to find what is believed to be a large whale which has been attacking ships. However, his trip takes a surprising turn when he and two companions find themselves trapped on board the submarine Nautilus - the real culprit. Until they can find a way to escape, they must travel along with Captain Nemo and his men, exploring the underwater realm, and attempting to reach the South Pole, facing adventures and dangers along the way.
This was quite good. I didn't enjoy it as much as Journey to the Centre of the Earth, but I still found the adventures for the most part enjoyable, and I liked the character of Captain Nemo - he is a bit of an ambiguous character, someone who has suffered a lot and does some bad things, but he is an interesting character and I can't help liking him at least a bit. The descriptions of things seen under the sea were also interesting. I also liked the scientific details - there is enough to make the story somewhat believable, but not so that it gets bogged down in details.
The Prisoner of Zenda
Rudolf Rassendyll travels to Ruritania just before the coronation of King Rudolf IV, a distant cousin of his. He is surprised to find out just how much he and the King resemble each other - so much so that most people would not be able to tell them apart. As a result of this he ends up being drawn into a charade, by which he must pretend to be the King, now a prisoner of his half-brother Michael who is after his throne. Michael cannot reveal his as the pretender, without giving away that he has the real King as a prisoner. So Rassendyll, along with two loyal friends, must find a way to rescue the King without being killed themselves.
Altogether I really enjoyed this book. It's fast-paced and entertaining, but also has moments of reflection. There are also some quite funny moments, both in dialogue and in event, such as when Rudolf has to fight off three men with a tea-table (who would have thought it?). It's not a book that takes itself too seriously. But the ending too is pretty satisfying. I also liked Rudolf's intentions to be honourable and do the right thing - it also made the situations more complex, and the solutions more satisfying.