Ivanhoe by Walter Scott

The classic tale of chivalry, knights in shining armor, and beautiful damsels in distress. But behind all the pomp and pageantry, Prince John is scheming on how to remain on the throne of England while his brother King Richard is rumored to be held prisoner in Austria. And to top this story off are the cameo appearances of Robin Hood, Friar Tuck, and other merry men from Sherwood Forest. Actually, “cameo” might be a misleading term as Robin and the Friar play a large role in some of the adventures of Ivanhoe and the mysterious Black Knight.

Aside from the knightly adventures and quests, Scott places a great deal of emphasis on the rampant anti-Semitism of the day. Throughout much of the book, two of the main characters, Isaac of York and his daughter Rebecca are reviled because of their Jewish heritage. Even the “good guys” who managed to rescue Isaac and Rebecca on several occasions were at best condescending toward them. On the flip side, the piety shown by Isaac and Rebecca were a marked contrast to the hypocritical behavior and attitude of some of the more “devout” followers of the Church.

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