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Ivanhoe (Penguin Popular Classics) Paperback – 26 Jul 2007

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Product details

  • Paperback: 528 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; New Ed edition (26 July 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140620508
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140620504
  • Product Dimensions: 11.3 x 2.1 x 18.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 829,514 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

About the Author

Walter Scott (1771-1832) was an extremely influential novelist, establishing the form of the historical novel and the short story. He wrote both dramas and novels, including The Antiquary and The Tale of Old Mortality.

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First Sentence
IN that pleasant district of merry England which is watered by the river Don, there extended in ancient times a large forest, covering the greater part of the beautiful hills and valleys which lie between Sheffield and the pleasant town of Doncaster. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 30 July 2001
Format: Paperback
The works of Sir Walter Scott, one of Scotland's greatest literary sons, are famous for their action and romance. It can only be said that this fame is very well deserved. "Ivanhoe" is a truly absorbing novel, and a fabulous romantic fairy tale. Scott's descriptive abilities are such that the reader can almost visualise the action as it unfolds, and, notwithstanding that the story is pure fantasy, it cannot help but captivate. There are a few small annoyances, such as the dissapointingly minor role of the title character and some niggling historical assumptions, but these are only minor imperfections. The concept of chivalry has the power to excite the imagination, and this breathtaking novel plainly shows that Sir Walter Scott has that power as well.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By unlikely_heroine VINE VOICE on 19 July 2004
Format: Paperback
For a couple of years after I got my copy of this book, it sat, getting dusty, on my shelf. Having heard great things about this classic novel, I found that every time I tried to start reading it, I would give up after only a few pages, defeated by the style of writing and by the slow beginning to the story.
However, one day I managed to get past the first twenty pages or so, and once I had done so I found myself hooked into this tale of Saxon versus Norman, heroes, battles and castles under siege...
Ivanhoe has been banished from the family home after falling for his father's ward, the Saxon princess Rowena. Ivanhoe's father has plans for Rowena to marry another man, Athelstane, in order to unite the Saxon people and, he hopes, help to make them a force to be reckoned with - capable of taking on the Normans. As the novel begins, Ivanhoe has returned, in disguise, to his homeland, hoping to somehow win Rowena as his bride...
What follows is a genuinely enjoyable story. "Ivanhoe" certainly is not the boring book it is sometimes suggested to be - yep, it was surprising to me, too! There is a tremendous amount of action involved in a fast-moving plot, and the characters - of both sexes, and from all backgrounds, are exceptionally well-drawn. The most prominent woman in the novel, Rebecca, despite being a female character in an historical novel, doesn't just sit around waiting to be rescued etc! - she is strong and intelligent and also very likeable.
"Ivanhoe" is notable as one of the first books written in the English language to deal with the issue of racism and it is very sensitively handled here. The book is also a cracking good read, a novel which surprised me - not only with its scope and depth, but also by how much I enjoyed it once I had given it a chance. I really got caught up in the story and the writing, against my expectations, and for me, it is a 5-star book - entertaining and a true classic.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Sally-Anne on 25 Jun 2004
Format: Paperback
'Ivanhoe' was a more enjoyable read than I was anticipating. I liked the old English style of language. The book is almost 200 years old and the events recounted in it took place even earlier: a few generations after the Battle of Hastings that was fought in 1066. The Saxons are an oppressed people in this period, under the boot-heel of the Norman invaders and usurpers. It's taking a long time for the two groups to integrate. There's a sharp culture clash. Heroes are needed if justice is to prevail. One would not be enough. Fortunately, there are quite a few around. Ivanhoe spends most of the time between his introduction and the end of the book incapacitated and is hardly referred to at all most of the time. He gets some good heroing done when he's conscious but for the rest of the time his allies have to do the business. He couldn't have accomplished so much without Rebecca, Gurth, Wamba, Cedric, Athelstane, The Black Knight and Locksley and his merry men.
There's more to this tale than just the Saxon/Norman power struggle. Scott paints a picture of racial disharmony with one much maligned people, in particular, receiving rough treatment at the hands of both Saxons and Normans. Even so, Rebecca, a Jewish woman emerges as a heroine - a strong willed, virtuous woman at a time when both her sex and her race were in a vulnerable position. She was accused of witchcraft on the flimsiest of pretexts and her guilt or innocence was not to be decided on anything to do with evidence. It was an age of unbridled prejudice. Scott is critical of the superstition, cruelty and hypocrisy.
So this is not just a romance. It's mainly a tale of politics, religion and derring-do. Scott's writing is witty and the story is engaging. It's a thoroughly enjoyable book. I recommend it.
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Format: Paperback
Walter Scott is a much neglected writer who has fallen out of fashion, and I read this novel with little knowledge of Scott and no preconceptions about his writing. I found Ivanhoe surprisingly refreshing. Ivanhoe is an epic tale of adventure set in a highly romanticised twelfth century England, in which a loose alliance of renegade knights, Saxon underlings, outlaws and persecuted Jews come together to oppose an attempt by Prince John to usurp the English crown from his brother King Richard, who is being held prisoner of the Duke of Austria.

Scott is a fantastically entertaining writer. He is a man who would have no difficulty writing modern thrillers. He understands that to keep the reader's interest, the plot must develop steadily and something must always be happening. Scott maintains the readers excitement with skilful changes perspective. His prose is sophisticated yet accessible, and he switches effortlessly between drama, romance, action and comedy. It is a very modern approach to entertainment literature, and it is difficult to believe that this book was written 190 years ago. The credibility of the plot is sometimes stretched by an over-reliance on coincide, but the narrative was too exciting for me to care much about such flaws.

Scott seems heavily influenced by Shakespearean drama, and he intelligently employs the difference between appearance and reality for dramatic effect. Scott's England is full of people hiding their true identity, travelling in disguise and misleading those around them, including the reader. The characters are somewhat Shakespearian, such as the jester who emerges as less of a fool than he pretends to be, the Jewish moneylender, and the villainous barons.
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