IVANHOE (OXFORD WORLD S CLASSICS)
Ivanhoe was the first of Scott's novels to take place in the middle ages but it is far from being the fantastic, medievalist romance associated (in the critical imagination) with a visionary Britain that never was. This is the first novel in English to deal seriously with issues of race. At the same time, it provides an exciting read to a contemporary audience. Set in the twelfth century, during the reign of Richard the Lionheart, Ivanhoe tells of the love of Wilfred of Ivanhoe for the Lady Rowena, his father Cedric's ward. Cedric, who is dedicated to the liberation of the Saxon people from Norman oppression and to the revival of the Saxon royal line, intends Rowena - a descendant of King Alfred - for the oafish Athelstane, and he banishes his son. Ivanhoe joins King Richard on his crusade in the Holy Land, and eventually the two men return secretly to England - Ivanhoe to regain his inheritance and the land of Rowena, Richard to secure his kingdom from his scheming brother John who has ruled in Richard's absence. With a gallery of memorable characters, high and low, Ivanhoe is a powerful and exciting evocation of a medieval world of jousting, baronial rivalry, siege warfare and trial by combat, and makes no attempt to gloss over the violence and brutality that lay behind the chivalric ideals.