Not to put too fine a point on it, but this nineteenth century novel by Sir Walter Scott, set in the medieval England of the Third Crusade, was the progenitor of what was to become a venerable tradition in English letters (and in other European literatures): the historical romance. There have been many after IVANHOE, and frequently with a finer eye to the period in which the tale is set (for IVANHOE contains quite a number of anachronisms -- even Scott acknowledged it), but few have done it quite as well as Scott. He uses an archaic English to give voice to his characters, but one which is readily absorbed because of the speed and quality of the tale. So, though these people certainly wouldn't really have spoken as he has them speaking here, yet they sound as though they ought to have. Peopled by many "stock" characters and situations, this tale was fresh in its time & still reads well today -- a testament to Scott's skills as a teller of tales. This is the story of the disinherited knight, Sir Wifred of Ivanhoe, newly returned to England from a stint with his liege lord, King Richard the Lionhearted, crusading in the Holy Land. Sir Wilfred arrives incognito because he has been disowned by his father, the wilfull Saxon lord, Sir Cedric, for his obvious attraction to Sir Cedric's beautiful ward, the lovely Rowena, last descendant of the royal house of the Saxons and Sir Cedric's hope for restoring the throne of England to Saxon hands. Too, Sir Wilfred had made common cause with the Norman Richard who rules Saxon England in the wake of the Norman Conquest, which has further enraged the head-strong Sir Cedric against him. But what the young Saxon knight finds upon his return is more than he had bargained for. Cedric and all his household are threatened by the nefarious machinations of the scheming Prince John and his Norman hangers-on who seek to unseat the absent Richard from his throne and place John upon it. But Cedric is too hard-headed to see a difference between the two Norman factions (John and Richard) and goes blithely toward his own downfall as John's minions, the brilliantly evoked Sir Brian de Bois Gilbert and the greedy and blood thirsty dullard, Sir Reginald Front de Boeuf, begin to work their plans on Cedric, his followers and the guests which Sir Wilfred finds upon the eve of his return to his father's house. Soon only the disguised Sir Wilfred can intervene to save them all, yet he is wounded in a tourney and must be hidden and nursed back to health by the lovely Jewess, Rebecca, whose father, the Hebrew merchant Isaac and one of Sir Cedric's guests on the night of Sir Wilfred's return (albeit one who is admitted to the feast hall only grudgingly for the prejudices of the time), is threatened by the greedy workings of Sir Reginald. And Sir Brian is soon smitten by Rebecca himself, though she has eyes only for the recuperating Sir Wilfred. There's lots of action and coincidences galore here, battles and sieges and bloody duels to the death. And Sir Wilfred loves Rowena while Rebecca loves him and Sir Brian, no slacker if aligned with the "dark side", is smitten, to his own detriment, by the lovely Jewess. Robin Hood makes a more than cameo appearance here, as does the noble Richard. In sum, this one's great fun, a great tale, and the progenitor of a whole genre. All those which came after owe their form to it. Worth the price and the read.
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Stuart W. Mirsky (swmirsky)
I'm a retired bureaucrat (having served, most recently, as an Assistant Commissioner in amunicipal agency in a major Northeastern American city). In 2002 I took an early retirement to pursue a lifelong … more
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Grade 9 Up--This is an excellent abridgment of the classic by Sir Walter Scott. The story line is very smooth and easy to follow. David Warner's reading is perfect. His British accent is easy to understand and adds to the telling of the story. Music added at the beginning and end of each side provides additional atmosphere. There is enough background information at the beginning of the presentation to allow listeners to follow the plot and the characters. This would be an excellent study tool when reading this work as a school assignment. The addition of a vocabulary list might help listeners with some of the unfamiliar words. The story has enough action and romance to make it a good listening experience for a wide range of ages, making it a valuable purchase for school and public libraries.?Pat Griffith, Schlow Memorial Library, State College, PA Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.