rating: 3 of 5 stars
Ever since watching the BBC mini-series long ago, I have wanted to read Ivanhoe. This, despite my mediocre feelings towards another of Sir Walter Scott's novels, Waverly (I felt it necessary to downgrade my rating of three stars for Waverly to two based on my three star rating for Ivanhoe--which I liked better). I was slightly disappointed with the book. It ends up in that small and rarely used "movie was better than the book" category.
There are moments of pure delight in this book, especially when the clown Wamba is in the scene. He is probably my favorite character though there are more noble choices. Rebecca is a close second. I love that she remains true to herself despite facing death and degradation.
My main problem with the book is that I was often bored. I am not one who needs a constant supply of action, and I can handle a more than average amount of wordiness, but there were several times when I had to force myself to concentrate and wondered when the book would end.
I did appreciate that there were several incidents that rang true to me. Moments where a modern author would be tempted to draw the action out to an unbelievable point just to maximize a fight scene. That said, the jousting tournament did last nearly one third of the book.
Must I find a moral or gain something life-altering from a 544 page classic? Tolerance seems to be the painfully obvious choice if a moral is mandatory. Perhaps it is just a mostly good historical tale.
I have one question: was the church in the twelfth century nearly 100 percent corrupt? I have yet to read a novel that takes place in that time period that portrays it any other way--despite the odd righteous prior, priest or monk.
Overall I regrettably say that if you are interested in the story of Ivanhoe you should rent the 1997 mini-series. It is excellent and exciting where the book is mediocre and slightly mind-numbing. It is unfortunate that a book containing several amazing characters (from the honorable to the hilarious to the downright evil) should be--at times--nearly painful to wade through.
**This was an audio book. It was narrated adequately by Frederick Davidson. Adequately only because he sufficed, for the most part, but there were times when he bordered on the overly dramatic. In fact, there was a death scene that actually had me laughing. I found that a tad distracting. But I wouldn't rule him out for future audio books. As far as audio as a medium for this book, I think it was fine. It probably made it easier to make it through those boring parts where, with a book, I might have closed it and never picked it up again.**
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