Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott

I'm going to post several short book reviews of what I have read recently, trying to catch up for this year at least. I spent so long away from internet that I got woefully behind. So I'll start with the beginning of 2012 and go from there. When I was in Alaska for Christmas, I took a short break away from children's fiction and picked up an old classic that's been on my to-read list for ages.

Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott, was a surprising delight! In the days when the Saxons were oppressed by the Normans, and the Jews were persecuted by both, Ivanhoe, the Saxon servant of King Richard, quietly returns to England from the Crusades in disguise, known only as "The Disinherited Knight." He crushes his foe, Brian De Boi Gilbert in the lists, stands up for and extends mercy to the hated Jew, Isaac, and eventually saves the Jewess, Rebecca from being burnt at the stake. When Ivanhoe is held captive inside a castle with his father, the lady Rowena, and the two Jews; his friend, the Black Knight (none other than King Richard himself!) and the band of the forest (anyone who knows the Robin Hood legends will recognize him here) bravely attack and succeed in storming the castle and razing it to the ground on top of its hateful Norman lord.

This is an exciting story, written in a delightful, old style. I learned a lot of good vocabulary relating to the era of the Crusades. One other point of style that I loved was Scott's use of quotations at the beginning of each chapter. Some are from famous works, some not, but all are clever and apt, and show Scott's excellent knowledge of literature. All in all, I found it engaging and inspiring.

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