I am full of admiration for Walter Scott's energy and enthusiasm. This story is set in the period of the Restauration. The writer portrays the intrigue, conflict and resentment in the aftermath of a religious civil war. It reads easily and well although the language is extremely rich and I suspect archaic in parts even at the time it was written, let alone today. I liked it more than "Red Gauntlet", the other Scott novel which I have read, because I felt that the charcters were more complex and in that sense more realistic, well not all the characters, but certainly Master Bridgenorth, the religious zealotm with very much a human heart, is multi-dimensional. I have the same reservation with Soctt however, as I have with Joseph Conrad, so that I nearly awarded this book only three stars and my reservation, which I find difficult to express is that the although the author seems to be revealing very much about his charcaters and even his art, the reader (or this reader at least!) is left with the strong feeling that the author is concealing more than he reveals, both about his own sentiments and about the motivations of his characters. His characters seem to have no history not directly bearing on the story to hand. This is I suppose the "dramatic" quality of Conrad and Scott, which many people admire. However, I feel that the psychology is thrust on the reader and not explained. I wonder if anyone feels the same way about Scott or Conrad? Or not at all? I should be interested in comments on this.