The Talisman

  • by Sir Walter Scott
  • Narrated by Robert Whitfield
  • 11 hrs and 44 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

The Crusaders, led by Richard I of England, are encamped in the Holy Land, and torn by the dissensions and jealousies of the leaders, including, besides Coeur de Lion himself, Philip of France, the duke of Austria, the Marquis of Montferrat, and the Grand Master of the Templars. The army's impotence is accentuated by the illness of Richard. A poor but doughty Scottish crusader, known as Sir Kenneth or the Knight of the Leopard, on a mission far from the camp encounters a Saracen emir, with whom, after an inconclusive combat, he strikes up a friendship. This emir proves subsequently to be Saladin himself, and he presently appears in the Christian camp in the disguise of a physician sent by the Soldan to Richard, whom he quickly cures.
Meanwhile, Sir Kenneth is lured from his post by Queen Berengaria, Richard's wife, who in a frolic sends him an urgent message purporting to come from Edith Plantagenet, for whom Sir Kenneth has a romantic attachment. During his brief absence, his faithful hound is wounded and the English flag torn down. Sir Kenneth, thus dishonored, narrowly escapes execution at Richard's order by the intervention of the Moorish physician, who receives him as his slave. Kindly and honorably treated by Saladin, he is sent, in the disguise of a black mute attendant, to Richard, whom he saves from assassination. Richard pierces Kenneth's disguise and gives him the opportunity he desires of discovering who wounded the hound and tore down the standard.
As the Christian princes and their forces file past the re-erected standard, the hound springs on Conrade of Montferrat and tears him from his horse. A trial by combat is arranged in which Sir Kenneth defeats and wounds Montferrat, and is revealed to be Prince David of Scotland. The obstacle that his supposed lowly birth presented to his union with Edith Plantagenet is thus removed.


What the Critics Say

"In narrating the romance, Robert Whitfield excels at phrasing, which, accompanied by his pleasant voice and British accent, makes this...pleasant listening." (AudioFile)


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Pretty good

This book surprised me. I liked the historical flavor, which had some degree of accuracy, along with a lot of fiction. But the story is great.

I have to say the language is quite a chore to get through. It is flowery and erudite. I decided to listen to the whole thing again and I liked it very much more the second time. If you can catch the whole meaning of the story from listening to it one time, I would like to meet you!

Sir Walter Scott is a superlative writer. My first recommendation of course would be Ivanhoe. It is interesting to contrast Scott's writing with Hemingway's direct and simple language. The reading was great and enjoyable.

It feels odd to me giving four stars to a classic writer's efforts, but I have done the deed. At the same time, it is worth the effort to "get it."

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- Benedict

Surprisingly enjoyable adventure!

I had only dim recollections of The Talisman as one of Scott's lesser-known works (as compared with Ivanhoe, anyway), but when I found this version, read by favorite narrator Robert Whitfield (aka Simon Vance) I had to give it a try. And I was delighted! It's a wonderful romp, with surprisingly liberal views of Saladin and his host; King Richard comes off rather poorly in comparison. The secret identities got a bit far-fetched, but it was all entertaining. Recommended!
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- GoryDetails

Book Details

  • Release Date: 05-13-2004
  • Publisher: Blackstone Audio, Inc.