Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Ivanhoe--A Classic?

Ivanhoe (Penguin Classics) Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott


My review


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.**


View all my reviews.

8 comments:

Zachariah Parry said...

You make very descriptive book reviews. I won't be picking up Ivanhoe to read any time soon.

However, there were two (arguably three) grammatical errors in your description. You aren't getting lax, are you?

Zachariah Parry said...

Well done. You caught the two independent clauses that weren't separated by a comma (constant supply of action . . . wordiness).

I'll just tell you the other ones.

Downright is not hyphenated.

The other one is where you put a colon after a non-independent clause. You said "A question: . . ." Generally the only exception to the rule (that an independent clause must precede a colon) is when what follows the colon is in quotation marks.

I only say this is arguable because I think it is a stupid rule.

Zachariah Parry said...

Tell Eric I said hi.

Natalie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Linda said...

Good to know that about the book Jenn! I loved the movie....but won't waste my time with the book.

Love you!

Anonymous said...

Howdy Zach. Hope all is well with you.

Eric

Becky said...

The last part of your review reminded me of a movie we saw last night called Nights in Rodanthe and Eliza, Jess, and I were hysterically laughing (as quietly as we could) at the sounds Diane Lane was making while crying about a death. The rest of the theater was totally silent. My review of the movie would be about the same as yours of the book, Ivanhoe.

Hacking it up said...

I just LOVE your book reviews!!! I'll definitely rent the movie...I love how you learned "tolerance" :)...maybe I should read the book after all....