This is one of Sir Walter Scott's greatest adventures, set amongst the roaring battles of the struggle between the Normans and the Saxons for control of medieval England. It deals with the rivalry between King Richard the Lion-Heart and his brother, John.
We follow the adventures, skirmishes and romances of the hero, Ivanhoe, a Saxon knight loyal to King Richard, as he attempts to survive the England of King John alongside the disguised Richard and, of course, Robin Hood.
Author Sir Walter Scott, first Baronet (1771-1832), was a prolific Scottish historical novelist and poet. His father was a lawyer who had brought himself from the family's rural background into legal eminence in Edinburgh, married a well-born girl and was very anxious that his children should continue his process of advancement for the Scott family.
Scott himself was an early victim of polio, only just surviving by dint of being sent back to what remained of the family seat to live with his grandmother. It was she who introduced him to Scottish folklore and ballads, which were to be so influential in his writing career, with novels such as Ivanhoe, Rob Roy, The Lady of the Lake, Waverley, The Heart of Midlothian and The Bride of Lammermoor.
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A brilliant rendering of a classic
It gives a better reading of history and culture than dry academic discourse. And within a children's tale there is more nuance and sincerity than most of modern politics.
The swineherd. His honesty moved me and his predicament has a telling similarity to the one of the modern middle class.
His voice. It was not overtly full of fake rural tones, but naturally so. Romantic in the spirit of the book.
Cedric's destiny and his struggle to keep his family and his nation alive.
A racist, anti-Semitic yet ripping yarn
- Patrick Gillam