Wilfred, knight of Ivanhoe, the son of Cedric the Saxon, is in love with his father's ward, Rowena. Cedric, however, wishes her to marry Athelstane, a descendant of the royal Saxon line, whom Cedric hopes will restore the Saxon succession.
With a colorful cast of chivalric knights and fair ladies, this action-filled novel comes complete with feats of derring-do, the pageantry of a tournament, and a great flame-engulfed castle - all of which makes it the most enthralling of Scott's creations.
(P)2005 Brilliance Audio, Inc.
Well-read recording of a great adventure book. Scott digresses a lot into social and cultural history, and much of this is outdated. But the tournament, the battle scenes, the meeting of Richard and the friar -- these are great listening. This has been one of my favorite audiobooks.
I had read this in high school but I don't remember it being this awesome! It felt too much like reading the bible, but the recording has a completely different feel to it. Mostly because this narrator is so familiar with the difficult language and distinguishes the character's voices so well. It starts out a little hard to listen to, but if you can make it to the tournament you won't be able to stop until you're done!
I LOVED this book. It probably is due in large part to the terrific narration. Yes, it's Robin Hood, and it's King Richard, and Prince John and all the usual characters. But this is so much more. The description of the terrible treatment of the Jews at this time in England, and the hypocrisy surrounding them (they were needed for loans, because Christians weren't allowed to earn usury) is palpable. The resentment the Saxons felt toward the Normans comes to life. The characters are heroic and humorous. The language of the times (thee's, thou's, etc.) is easy to follow because the narrator is so good. I wouldn't have selected it at Audible if it hadn't been free at the time, so what a wonderful surprise when I found it so thoroughly enjoyable.
Take a rip roaring adventure tale with honorable thieves, despicable tyrants, a secretly returned king, beautiful damsels, and of course a knight in shining armor and you have the story of Ivanhoe. As if that is not enough, I have to say, Michael Page's narration is astounding. He gives each character a unique accent and speech cadence and is so good I thought I was listening to real actors read individual parts. I wasn't crazy about his early voicing for Isaac of York, it seemed a bit over the top at times, but as the story develops and Isaac's problems become more severe, Page does a great job of conveying Isaac's stress and troubles. Here is the mark of a great narrator, that I could easily identify the which character was speaking without the author's attribution. This is a great story and a great read and one of just two five star ratings I have awarded to date.
Interestingly enough, I originally began to listen to the book narrated by Jim Killavey, and although it has high reviews, I personally found his voice or possibly the recording a little grating. In my opinion, there is no comparison, and Michael Page has just become my favorite narrator. I intend to look for more books narrated by him. The voices are so expressive and distinct, and it made for a more understandable story, and I laughed out loud at some of the ways he expressed some of the lines of the jester and Cedric. Wow!
The poetry that opened each chapter gave such a marked elegance to the text and a chivalrous ambience to the portrayal of the people. The description of the land and the manner and attire of the people were so carefully detailed as to be perfect for a student studying the time period. Historical references were intermingled with a delightful story of honor and avarice, fortune and despair, which made you admire and feel for even some of the most despised characters.
I loved this story. It held me right to the end, which was a bit disappointing in that it was not satisfying at all, but I could see why the author did what he did. The narration was also quite good if not a little overly dramatic. I was very happy with this purchase.
I love reading and listening to books, especially fantasy, science fiction, children's, historical, and classics.
In late 12th-century England the wounds of the Norman Conquest are still raw. The victorious Normans are scorning the vanquished Saxons as bestial bumpkins (“Saxon porkers”), while the Saxons are resenting the Normans as interloping despots and still hoping if not scheming to throw off their “feudal chains.” After the failed Third Crusade, King Richard Lionheart has been imprisoned in Austria, leaving his venial brother Prince John ruling in his stead, giving the Norman lords free reign to rob, rape, and dispossess the Saxons. The “far more manly and expressive” Anglo Saxon tongue is limited to the oppressed class and has gradually merged with French to produce English, though the Normans continue ruling in French. Both Normans and Saxons hate and persecute the Jews, whose special history, culture, and nationless state confine them to finance and medicine, earning them more hatred and persecution for usury and “witchcraft.”
In this context of intercultural conflict Sir Walter Scott’s classic novel of medieval chivalry and romance, Ivanhoe (1820), opens in a Yorkshire forest with a comical pair of Saxons, a swineherd called Gurth and a fool called Wamba, kvetching about the fact that Saxon swine and oxen become Norman pork and beef, when a formidable party of Normans appears, led by the Epicurean voluptuary Prior Aymer and the scar-faced, haughty Templar commander Sir Brian de Bois-Guilbert, freshly back from Palestine, where he is reputed to have killed 300 infidels. When the Normans demand directions to Rotherwood, the seat of the local franklin Cedric the Saxon (Gurth and Wamba's master), the fool sends them off on a false trail. Fortunately for the Normans (and for Scott's plot), they run into a palmer who leads them to Rotherwood, where Scott depicts Cedric's proud refusal to conform or bend to Norman customs or rule, the beauty of his ward, Rowena (the last descendent of King Alfred), the prejudice against the Jewish money lender Isaac of York, de Bois-Guilbert's hatred of Wilfred of Ivanhoe (Cedric's disowned and banished son), and the mysterious Palmer's detailed knowledge of Ivanhoe.
Then follows a rousing, humorous, and gripping story that presents a large set of interesting historical and fictional male and female characters, evokes a convincing and rich vision of a past period and place, depicts a variety of exciting action (jousts, melees, sieges, ambushes, kidnappings, etc.) with a variety of narrative strategies (straightforward real-time, after-the-fact summary, eye-witness play-by-play, etc.), pays more than lip service to pacifism, and explores bigotry and tolerance among different cultures and classes of people.
Scott's "villains" are interesting. From the conflicted dark star de Bois-Guilbert to even relatively minor characters like the fanatical Grand Master of the Templars and the cruel lord Front-de-Boeuf, they are depicted more complexly than they would be in novels by lesser writers. In fact, despite giving his name to the novel, Ivanhoe is rarely on stage with his own point of view and remains something of a cardboard, battle-eating, melee-breathing, glory-seeking chivalrous prig compared to the other more complex figures.
Scott writes pithy lines: "When do you ever find Folly separated from Valour?" He incorporates neat songs, of romantic love, of fraternal drinking, of doom cursing, of comic widow courting, of roving friars, and more. He begins each chapter with apt epigraphs from Chaucer, Pope, Homer, Shakespeare etc. He often addresses the reader: "Our history must needs retrograde for the space of a few pages, to inform the reader of certain passages material to his understanding." Despite frequent reversed order in syntax and elision of the verb "to do" ("What means this?" and "I know not!" etc.) and archaic expressions ("Go thee thither" and "Laugh if ye list" etc.), Scott's prose in its early 19th and late 12th-century contexts feels natural and reads easily. That said, a few of his many extended descriptions of architecture, attire, physiognomy, and character, though vivid and well-written, seem too exhaustively detailed.
I was surprised by how funny Scott's novel is, particularly in any scene involving Wamba the Fool or the Clerk of Copenhurst (aka Friar Tuck). Perhaps the scenes involving Isaac of York are more uncomfortable than funny because Scott often makes Isaac haggle a bit too much during life and death crises. He also perhaps strives too hard for comedy relief with a late, excrescent passage about a resurrection, which, although quite funny, makes the novel perhaps forty pages longer than it had to be. But Ivanhoe made me chuckle far more than groan.
There are inaccuracies in Scott's historical depiction. For instance, his Richard speaks fluent English in addition to French, when really he spoke only French, and seems concerned about the state of England (being "no stranger to the customs of his English subjects"), when really he just saw the country as a source of revenue for his foreign wars. But overall Scott succeeds in evoking a believable and interesting historical period far removed from the present of his writing,
Michael Page does an outstanding job reading the novel, making it more natural, lively, and exciting. This audiobook, however, lacks Scott's many interesting historical and cultural notes, as well as the “Dedicatory Epistle” by his pseudonymous alter-ego Laurence Templeton to his fictional friend Dr. Dryasdust explaining why he wrote a historical novel set in the late 12th century.
All in all Ivanhoe deserves its classic status and should be read by fans of chivalry, historical romances, Robin Hood, and the middle ages.
I listened to this because I loved Michael Page reading the Locke Lamora fantasy series. After all, medieval history isn't that different from fantasy. The narration was excellent, There are many characters and some of the speeches are challenging. The flowery language is pretty hard for us to accept (knights speaking in long complex sentences with classical allusions while bashing each other.)
The funny thing is that Ivanhoe himself is rather a minor character. Good thing too, since he's pretty boring. Much more interesting are the mysterious black knight, the merry forest men in green (if I had known they were in this book, I would have read it long ago), the hearty Saxons, the persecuted Jews, and even the pig farmer and jester.
As far as the storytelling, you have to remember that Walter Scott was inventing the genre. The stereotypes were new then, and although some plot developments are predictable, there were a couple of surprises.
Ya know I've known that Ivanhoe was written by Sir Walter Scott since I was little... But had no idea what it was about. I was pleasantly surprised by the epic story. All the knighthood stuff and more. Thoroughly enjoyable story. Great narrator.
This classic novel includes all the archetypes of a medieval story: knights, castles, tournaments, battles, damsels in distress, etc. Amusingly _ with debatable concern for historical accuracy _ it also includes famous characters such as Richard the Lion Heart, Prince John, Robin Hood and Friar Tuck.
Strangely, narration is not linear and often the action is rewound to look at the same events a second time, from the perspective of different characters. This makes things a bit difficult to follow, especially in audio format. There is also a surprising emphasis on Isaac and Rebecca, of Jewish faith, who appear practically more prominently than Ivanhoe himself. It must be mentioned as well that there is a strong anti-Catholic bias, the Church, its priests and its rituals being somewhat ridiculed throughout the work.
Still the result is entertaining and those unfamiliar with this famous work will not be disappointed.
"Stick with it...."
This story took ages to get into, then suddenly it takes off and you can't put it down (turn it off)! There are hundreds of males characters to try and remember, it is an enormous ensemble cast, yet there are only 2 women in it! The story is kind of a mish-mash of Robin Hood (although again a minor character), historical fact about Saxon-Norman ill feeling in the centuries following the conquest, and ill-fated love. I'm not sure why it was called Ivanhoe, as he is only one of many characters, and not the one who fills the book. A few very funny bits which will make you laugh out loud, although generally not a comedy, more an adventure with lots of masculine chivalry and the like.
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