Ivanhoe Read-along: Week 1 Recap

November 30, 2014

The cartoon returns! Source: Wikimedia
Today ends Week 1 of the (great) Ivanhoe read-along, hosted by Rachelle of The Reading Wench! You can learn more about the RAL, including its schedule, from her post or mine.

Rachelle wrote up a good, spoiler-y synopsis of this week's chapters, so check that out if you want the rundown of what we've read so far.

Since I did most of this week's reading in a place without Internet or cell service (yes, these places still exist—gasp!), I took notes while I was reading of names and terms to look up when I returned home. This resulted in a crash course in medieval European history, particularly the Norman takeover of England and its political, economic and cultural consequences. Back in the land of Wi-Fi, I'm sure I'll be doing further research as the RAL continues. History has never been my strong suit, because chronology tends to go in one ear and out the other. I'm hoping that Ivanhoe will give me a good (albeit fictional) foundation for getting this period to stick in my mind!

So far in the story, I'm most captivated by Cedric, a Saxon franklin who wants everyone to know he is most definitely, without a doubt, a Saxon (for sure, absolutely). Maybe because of my recent reading, I'm imagining him as an older, slightly crabbier Boromir. SPOILER HERE: In his hall before his guests arrive, we hear Cedric lament the fact that his son has, in some way, abandoned him. I get the feeling this is going to be important as we go on. Fun fact: Via IvanhoeSir Walter Scott introduced the name "Cedric" to the English language! Quite the legacy for what today would amount to a typo...

I'm also enjoying Wamba, Cedric's super snarky jester. As any good jester should, he injects welcome humor into all situations, treading as close to the truth as he dares without earning punishment from his master.

Even outside of Wamba's dialogue, I've been pleasantly surprised by the wryness and readability of Scott's prose. You encounter dryer spells (such as a four-page description of the clothing and weaponry of a monk, a Knight Templar, and their attendants), but Scott makes up for it in other ways, the raw tension between the Saxon and Norman characters and (maybe spoiler?) their shared hatred of Isaac the Jew (maybe spoiler? end!) being prime examples.

All in all, I'm excited to see where the story goes. I managed to spoil a few details for myself while doing research (unlike this post, Wikipedia does not have spoiler tags), but I don't think it will ruin my enjoyment of the novel.

Feel free to join up with us—today's your last chance! Though, if you join us afterward, I won't tell. :)

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  1. That's a great little fun fact about the name Cedric! I had no idea :)