During the reign of Richard I, Wilfred of Ivanhoe earns his father's disapproval by falling in love with Rowena, his father's ward. His father had planned to wed her himself, and reestablish the Saxon line.
Ivanhoe serves with Richard I during the Crusades, while the King's brother attempts to take the throne for himself in his brother's absence. When Richard I and Ivanhoe return, a series of adventures takes place against the backdrop of a tournament where Knights Templar are entered into contests. Ivanhoe catches the eye of Rebecca, a beautiful and courageous Jew; he is taken prisoner, along with his father and hers, and Rowena as well; and they rely upon one Locksley (Robin Hood) and his band of outlaws to set them free. When Rebecca is subsequently charged with witchcraft, she asks Ivanhoe to champion her in a trial by combat. But have his affections shifted, or does he still love Rowena?
Sir Walter Scott's fanciful, vivid reinterpretation of medieval life makes for a successful novel that blends fact, myth, and romance.
(P)1998 Blackstone Audiobooks. Originally published in England in 1819.
A friend's recommendation led me to seek out an audio edition of Ivanhoe. The narrator of this edition made it impossible to get into - I couldn't even get half-way through. His British accent is so nasal and affected, it sounds as if the Duke of Windsor came back to life to do some freelance narration work. This wouldn't be such a detriment if only he was narrating rather than just reading. It did not come to life for me. But listen to a sample - maybe it will come to life for you!
If you like historical fiction, you'll like this book. It has a very good plot, and the narrator does a great job with the different characters. However, I must admit I enjoyed the ending of the movie (starring Robert Taylor and Elizabeth Taylor) better.
I was shocked by how strong the anti-semitic sentiment was in this book. I was so put off by this that it ruined any enjoyment I might have had in the story. I realize that this book was written during a different time when people's beliefs were very different, but when is enough enough. Just as old way of thinking give way to new ideas so should old literature.
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