Jenny T's Reviews > Ivanhoe

Ivanhoe by Walter Scott
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Jul 17, 2011

it was amazing
bookshelves: classics, fiction, read-in-2011
Read from July 17 to August 04, 2011

Sir Wilfred of Ivanhoe (pure, brave, chivalrous, etc. etc.) returns from the Crusades to claim his birthright and marry the beautiful Rowena, ward of his father Cedric, a Saxon noble, and to defend King Richard against the machinations of Prince John and the evil Norman nobility.

Jousting, battles, and Robin Hood ensue, all told in Sir Walter Scott's gorgeous 19th-Century prose. Along the way, we meet a wise and witty Jester, a wonderfully conflicted Templar (Brian de Bois-Guilbert, one of the few truly three-dimensional characters in the story--and my personal favorite), and a beautiful and bright Jewish healer named Rebecca (SO much more of a heroine than the dull and spoiled Rowena).

The story is a rollicking, romanticized Medieval adventure, with much clashing of steel, plenty of period-appropriate dirt and grime, and declarations of fealty left and right. I loved it. Although Ivanhoe and Rowena leave the reader a little cold, secondary characters like Friar Tuck and the afore-mentioned Bois-Guilbert steal the show.

I had one serious problem with Ivanhoe -- in addition to making extensive references to the antisemitism of the time (which is a GOOD thing, fully bringing the less savory aspects of the time period to life), much of the author's narration contained similarly antisemitic commentary, and it is hard to tell if this is intended to disgust a reader (doubtful, as it was written in 1819) or if these are the author's real feelings (in which case, they are not only distasteful, but also unnecessary, and almost ruined a great book).
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