Rob Roy

Narrated by: Sean Barrett
Length: 16 hrs and 30 mins
4.4 out of 5 stars (48 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Rob Roy is a captivating novel of chivalry and romance set in the Scottish Highlands of the 18th century.

After rejecting the life his father has laid out for him, Frank Osbaldistone is sent to the North of England to live with his Uncle, where he is to repent his sins. However, when his father's wealth and reputation are threatened, he is drawn to the Scottish Highlands, where he must retrieve a set of stolen documents. It is here that he is pulled into a number of skirmishes relating to the Jacobite uprising of 1715, and where his path frequently crosses with the mysterious maverick outlaw known as Rob Roy....

Scott's portrayal of Scotland is remarkable in its vivid and evocative panorama of the highlands, and his insightful exploration of social, economic, and historic themes.

Public Domain (P)2015 Naxos AudioBooks

What listeners say about Rob Roy

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Scots dialect immersion

The story line follows (and is narrated by) a young man who goes to Northumberland to straighten out his father's business and family affairs. There he gets entangled with a gaggle of male cousins, and one alluring female companion, and is eventually dragged north into Scotland where he encounters the outlaw and folk hero Rob Roy. The book has two definite halves, where the first is somewhat relaxed and tame, while the second is high-octane duels, chases, military engagements, and suspense at every turn. Some great depictions of Highland scenery and folk customs.

The performance is excellent, and especially the voices used to portray both the north-country English, as well as the Scots dialects. The dialogue in Scots is well-nigh gibberish; one can gather a word here or there, sometimes a sentence. This is not the reader's fault, it was written in this way by Scott, and short of translating to English, one cannot do better. There are a few chapters where the entire dialogue, for many minutes on end, is in Scots and those drag on interminably, with very little comprehension going on. The charm of the accent is lost if it is consumed in too great a quantity.

6 people found this helpful

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Masterful reading of a great story

Sean Barrett did a great job, and though I don’t know how authentic the accent for the Scots dialect was, I sure was convinced (and other reviewers who must know say it was very authentic). As pointed out by another reviewer, you could refer to one of the print editions to help understand the dialect, but I found it was enough to get the context and go with the flow. It transports you to another time and place - one of the delights of immersing yourself in great literature. The story, you could say, was written for a screenplay, well before such things existed. There are scenes of adventure, scenes of conflict, characters good and evil, and the title character who is neither all good nor all bad, which is what makes him so fascinating. There is history and romance, but the romance is not such that it should deter anyone who thinks romance stories are not for them. A great book and a great listen!

1 person found this helpful

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Great story, sometimes heavy dialect

If spoilers bother you, you probably shouldn't read this review. I can sum up the non-spoiler parts like this: it's a great yarn, and Sean Barrett is a wonderful reader, but the Scottish dialect is sometimes heavy enough to be confusing. There. You've been warned — although I should note that the novel is over 200 years old, and spoilers really ought to have an expiration date. So. Rob Roy takes a long time to show up in the novel that bears his name, and he doesn't fill many of its pages. The novel is narrated by, and mostly revolves around, Frank Osbaldistone, a dreamy London romantic, who rebels at the idea of going into business with his hard-headed father. The father ships him off to his Catholic brother who lives with his five sons on the family estate in Northumberland, near the Scottish border. The beautiful and flirtatious Diane Vernon is also in residence there: she is a cousin by marriage of the Osbaldistones and has been destined from birth to marry one of them. (I had a crush on her after about 5 lines of dialogue.) One of the brothers, Rashleigh, turns out to be the villain of the piece. Rashleigh was trained by Jesuits for the priesthood, but changes careers to replace Frank as a partner in the father's business. He was Diana’s tutor, but she reveals to the smitten Frank that Rashleigh had made improper advances — hints at it, at any rate, in the best tradition of Victorian vagueness. Frank picks up on her meaning immediately and wants to avenge her honor. “I need no avengers,” she tells him. She is one of the liveliest heroines in Scott, if not in Victorian fiction in general. Frank discovers that Rashleigh has been playing his father false. Rashleigh has sided with the Scottish Jacobites, who want to place the son of the Catholic James II on the throne. Rashleigh’s way of supporting the rebellion is (as is typical of him) complicated and underhanded. He tries to force the issue by defaulting on Osbaldistone loans involving the Scottish gentry. This will, he hopes, force them into bankruptcy and destabilize the country. It will also, as a side effect, ruin the Osbaldistone family business. As it turns out, the outlaw Robert Campbell — aka Robert MacGregor, aka Rob Roy — has documents that can expose the scheme, so Frank turns to him for help. The Jacobite rebellion breaks out in earnest. Because the Northumberland Osbaldistones are supporters of the rebellion (though not of Rashleigh’s dishonest way to igniting it), Frank himself becomes entangled in the events leading up to the revolt. The tone of the story darkens considerably. One person who is a figure of fun in the early going meets a horrible and agonizing death before the end. Scott doesn't sugarcoat the barbarity of some of the action. Once past the opening skirmishes, the rebellion itself is dealt with in summary fashion. Frank by then has returned to London and taken up his place in his father’s business after all. But he becomes involved once again at the end in a desperate venture, only to find Rob Roy once again a benefactor. Poetic justice is served, at least to an extent, though Frank’s Jacobite uncle and his five sons are punished far more than they deserve. Frank spends time and money trying to mitigate the wrath of the state. He and Diane end up together at the end, and Rashleigh ends up dead. Despite the dark tone of the latter half of the novel, there are few writers as genial as Sir Walter Scott. He never lets history get in the way of a good story, so his chronology can't be depended on; the novel involves a number of historical characters, but it's no more history than Shakespeare’s plays about the Plantagenets. The characters themselves are all drawn with brilliant detail and precision. As much as I love this novel — and I do love it — listening to it was a challenge. The Scots dialect is strong with this one. Sometimes the context helped; sometimes the sound was close enough to follow what was being said. At times, especially in the beginning, I needed to look up some of the exchanges in the printed version. The Signet Classics edition of the novel has a helpful glossary — something even the Penguin edition lacks. The glossary helped me understand sentences and phrases like the following: “Yill?—deil a drap o' yill did Pate offer me; but Mattie gae us baith a drap skimmed milk, and ane o' her thick ait jannocks, that was as wat and raw as a divot. O for the bonnie girdle cakes o' the north!—and sae we sat doun and took out our clavers.” Or these: “Queeze-maddam” “We pickle in our ain pock-neuk” “Let folk tuilzie in their yards” “The loon maun loup” “A puir wabster-body” “I sall haud ilk parochine” “Gun and pistol, dirk and dourlach” I'm not trying to warn anybody off the book. Just be prepared. I found the audiobook a challenge at times, but it repaid my efforts with an abundance of pleasure. Frank himself narrates in straightforward English, and the opaque dialect only involves a few of the characters. And even with them it eventually became easier to pick up the meaning from the context and tone of voice. Sean Barrett’s deep, rich voice is a pleasure to listen to. He brings out the humor in the story and (at least to my American ears) assumes an astonishing number of regional accents.

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Phenomenal reading of a classic book

As some have pointed out, the accents are so authentic that some of the dialogue is hard to understand, but I wouldn’t want to listen to it any other way.

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Superb reader and great story

I loved the reader for this story. He gave life to all the idioms and wit. The story is excellent (if it slows a tiny bit in the end tying up loose ends). It is a rally wonderful book read by a wonderful reader.

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Strong Finish after Slow Start

Elmore Leonard famously say that he tried not to write the parts that people tried not to read. I like to think of that as an extension of the ‘technology of narrative,’ as one step in changing the techniques we have for writing fiction. In that case, it means realizing that contemporary readers have the capacity to understand gaps in the narrative. We’re sharp enough (and grateful) to be able to fill in the more tedious parts of what lie behind an otherwise compelling story. Credit Walter Scott with creating a good chunk of the technology of the novel. Arguably the first commercially successful giant of the English-language novel, he taught us how to do the historical romance. Ivanhoe holds up two centuries later as a thrilling story of dual allegiance and heroism. Waverley, as I remember it, is also pretty good, taking a young man and putting him at the heart of powerful historical events. I figured Rob Roy would be along those lines, and I also decided I could use a classic to wash down some of the other things I’d been reading recently. Rob Roy McGregor was a historical outlaw, a Scottish clan chief who used his knowledge of the Highlands to remain at large and to play a part in some of the conclusion to the Jacobite Wars. If you take the last quarter of this novel, it’s just that – as good as advertised. But, there’s a lot of build-up, a lot, that is, that Scott could have learned from his authorial descendent Elmore Leonard. (To be fair, Leonard learned a great deal from Scott, of course. It may not have come directly from Scott, but it started from him.) In other words, this gets exciting when Frank, our young protagonist, finds himself brokering peace between the triumphant English and the purportedly defeated Scots – all the while as he negotiates his own fortunes in love and society. It’s compelling work as it puts him in the middle of his Scottish heritage (his father left his Lowland home to make a commercial success in England) and his English livelihood, and you can see why Scott has been so beloved by so many generations. The first part of this, though, I wish I could have skipped – or at least gotten to in compressed fashion. It’s thrilling when Frank is navigating the wilds and looking for Rob Roy. It’s, well, tedious, when he’s explaining some of the ins and outs of his father’s trading house or when he’s talking about how he’s tutoring the woman he eventually comes to love. That is, the material here is simply dryer than in Ivanhoe. There, even the quotidian is interesting when we learn about heraldry or get an indirect sense of the social divisions among the Saxons, the Normans, and the Jews. Here, it’s a subtler, social commentary and Scott isn’t quite acute enough to catch it in an intriguing way. (For that, he might have benefitted from the narrative technology of a woman writing at roughly the same time – Jane Austen.) So, I’m glad to have read this, and glad especially to have it end on a note that intrigues me enough to put another Scott on my long list. As a caution, though, the beginning is dense and slow enough that this doesn’t feel like his best work.

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Scottish History Revived

This book allowed me to live this period of history thru the eyes and heart of an English outsider. While sometimes the Sottish brogue dialog stumped me, the traditional English narrator gave enough details to follow the storyline. Later, I discovered I understood the accent better and enjoyed that dialog as well.

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awesome book!

this was beautifully read! the various accents he used made it easy to follow and were quite genuine!

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Worst book in 64 years.

Hey, I am from Scotland, How could I dislike this book??
There is not one reason, you should consider this book, unless you want to flog yourself, or you work at the Tower of London. It is that bad.
No, it's worse than bad.

1 person found this helpful

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Where is Rob Roy?

6 hours I to the book and no Rob Roy. Tedious story with no point.

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  • colin monteith
  • 09-14-18

Romance, drama, action

Rip roaring action and romance while Britain is riven between Hanovarian and Jacobite factions. Witness the the breathtaking drama if you dare!!!!

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 05-17-18

Awesome story, impeccably read

This narrator must also surely be a great actor, so consistent and colourful is he in his characterisation. Listen carefully to Scott's words for his account hints honestly at the mood of Scotland over the Union in the early 1700s... and shows us the seed from which today's strong, white flower of Scottish Independece blooms.

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  • M. R. Beaumont
  • 11-17-17

A great story

The narrative is wonderful in his command of the various. Scottish accents, sometimes quite difficult to English ears! Apart from that a great story which reflects the faithfulness of those devoted to the Stewart cause.

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  • Alex Morrison
  • 04-08-17

Intense thriller made accessible by brilliant narrator

Despite being a Scot myself, I very much doubt that I could have stayed with this novel on paper - there is a vast amount of Scottish dialect to get to grips with! But the narrator is magnificent and opens up the whole story with his renditions of the different characters - the fussy baillie Nichol Jarvie, the young Francis Osbaldiston and his ferociously stern father, beautiful Diana Vernon and Rob Roy himself. It's a marvellous window on Scotland at the time of the Jacobites with King George's redcoats scouring Scotland for supporters of the Stewart kings. The poverty and toughness of the people at that time is fascinating . Also a seriously terrifying villain in Rashley Osbaldiston! It's quite challenging and needs concentration but all credit to the narrator who is terrific.

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  • Michael
  • 01-05-16

A thrilling audiobook once it gets going

It is a little slow to start but stick with it for an extraordinary romp with political asides which have become more relevant today when we have a Scotland once again rebelling against English power. The hero had charm, a poet manque banished by his father to his huntin' and fishin' Northumbrian uncle. The villains are truly villainous, and the chilling end of one of them made my flesh creep. The Scots dialect is worth decoding - it's very often saying the unsayable in polite society. I really liked the mysterious heroine too, And a Rob Roy himself is a character to rival Long John Silver.

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  • Fusgus
  • 12-18-15

Enjoyable but unexpected

I chose this book after reading Graham Greens Travels with my Aunt in which Scots Rob Roy is regularly quoted.
The story is a fast paced adventure with a curious and not overly likable central character Frank Osbaldeston (not Rob Roy) in fact I began to think I had the wrong book as Rob Roy does not officialy arrive on the scene until over half way through the story. Glad I've read it, hard going at times wlthrough some of the scottish dialect sections but reasonably enjoyable.