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The Monastery by Sir Walter Scott, Fiction, Historical, Literary

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The land that held the monastery was quiet and forbidding -- ". . . As our Glendearg did not abound in mortal visitants, superstition had peopled its recesses with beings belonging to another world. The savage and capricious Brown Man of the Moors, a being which seems the genuine descendant of the northern dwarfs, was supposed to be seen there frequently, especially after The land that held the monastery was quiet and forbidding -- ". . . As our Glendearg did not abound in mortal visitants, superstition had peopled its recesses with beings belonging to another world. The savage and capricious Brown Man of the Moors, a being which seems the genuine descendant of the northern dwarfs, was supposed to be seen there frequently, especially after the autumnal equinox, when the fogs were thick, and objects not easily distinguished. The Scottish fairies, too, a whimsical, irritable, and mischievous tribe, who, though at times capriciously benevolent, were more frequently adverse to mortals, were also supposed to have formed a residence in a particularly wild recess of the glen. . . ."


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The land that held the monastery was quiet and forbidding -- ". . . As our Glendearg did not abound in mortal visitants, superstition had peopled its recesses with beings belonging to another world. The savage and capricious Brown Man of the Moors, a being which seems the genuine descendant of the northern dwarfs, was supposed to be seen there frequently, especially after The land that held the monastery was quiet and forbidding -- ". . . As our Glendearg did not abound in mortal visitants, superstition had peopled its recesses with beings belonging to another world. The savage and capricious Brown Man of the Moors, a being which seems the genuine descendant of the northern dwarfs, was supposed to be seen there frequently, especially after the autumnal equinox, when the fogs were thick, and objects not easily distinguished. The Scottish fairies, too, a whimsical, irritable, and mischievous tribe, who, though at times capriciously benevolent, were more frequently adverse to mortals, were also supposed to have formed a residence in a particularly wild recess of the glen. . . ."

30 review for The Monastery by Sir Walter Scott, Fiction, Historical, Literary

  1. 5 out of 5

    Issicratea

    The Monastery (1820) is not one of Scott’s better known novels, but I found it one of his most engaging to date. (I have read quite a few over the past decade, drawn in by a memorable Lucia di Lammermoor at the ENO in 2010—in order, The Bride of Lammermoor, Waverley, Ivanhoe, Guy Mannering, and Redgauntlet.) The Monastery is set in Scott’s beloved border country, in around 1550. The monastery of the title is the fictional Benedictine Kennaquhair—based, it seems on the real, Cistercian abbey of Me The Monastery (1820) is not one of Scott’s better known novels, but I found it one of his most engaging to date. (I have read quite a few over the past decade, drawn in by a memorable Lucia di Lammermoor at the ENO in 2010—in order, The Bride of Lammermoor, Waverley, Ivanhoe, Guy Mannering, and Redgauntlet.) The Monastery is set in Scott’s beloved border country, in around 1550. The monastery of the title is the fictional Benedictine Kennaquhair—based, it seems on the real, Cistercian abbey of Melrose, which survives in ruins. Scott portrays this great monastic house on the brink of its extinction (which we see enacted in the sequel, The Abbot, also 1820). This gives a special poignancy to his representation of its age-old rituals and powers and indulgences (indulgences in every sense). I find the religious history of this period fascinating, and I liked Scott’s representation of it here. His characters are pretty much split between Catholics and Reformers, with a majority of the former at the beginning, but a few converting along the way. The narrative voice tends to be fairly decided in its preference for the ‘true’ and ‘rational’ faith of Protestantism, but Scott is too empathetic to be fully sectarian, and the Catholics get their fair say. One thing that Scott captures very evocatively is the way in which religious sympathies are bound together with personal and family and historical loyalties. The main characters in the novel are a family who are tenants of the monastery, living in a remote tower on the ancient monastic lands. This serves well as a reminder of how closely meshed the religious and the secular were in this period. One vivid scene shows the bon viveur Abbot Boniface stirring himself to visit his feudatories for lunch (and some light political scheming), bringing with him not only the entire monastic kitchen staff and larder, but also his own armchair, just in case. Some other pleasures of this novel: first, there are some excellent characters here. I liked the subtle, tortured-intellectual sub-prior of the monastery, Father Eustace, a good foil to Abbot Boniface. The two love-hate brothers of the tenant family, impulsive, martial Halbert Glendinning and his studious brother Edward, are both also well drawn. Among the female characters, another nice, contrasting pair were the wispy, abstracted, aristocratic universal-object-of-desire, Mary Avenel, and the foxy, enterprising miller’s daughter Mysie, who steals quite a number of scenes. Most effulgently resplendent of all (as he might put it himself) is the effete, Euphuistic Elizabethan-courtier-in-exile, Sir Piercie Shafton, who washes up at the Glendinnings’ windswept tower after getting caught up in a Catholic plot. Sir Piercie was not a great hit with Scott’s contemporaries, in a way that seems to have sent Scott into a tail-spin of self-justification (he notes defensively in a subsequent edition that satires of social types specific to one period are probably not going to work for readers of another age). I don’t know about that. Sir Piercie certainly did it for me, and I laughed when I saw a reader on this site describing him as a “metrosexual knight,” confirming my feeling that his type is not 100% dead. One final merit of this novel: it has a very fine satire in its frame-tale of the novelistic device of the “found” manuscript, as exploited from Don Quijote onwards. I was also amused to realize that the fictional name for Scott’s monastery, Kennaquhair, means “know-not-where” in Scots—i.e. Utopia, more or less. This confirmed the impression I have always had, reading Scott, that he is a far more sophisticated novelist than the rollicking surface of his fictions suggest. He thinks very subtly about history and romance and the novel, and the ways in the three interact.

  2. 4 out of 5

    John

    I enjoyed The Monastery and look forward to reading The Abbot. The story is set in the 1550s on the borders of England and Scotland. It is a time of when Elizabeth 1 is on the English throne and her cousin Mary on the Scottish one. The setting is around a monastery based on the Melrose monastery. The battle between the Protestant reformers and the incumbent Catholic clergy is raging. I liked the story of the two sons Edward and Halbert brought up together with Mary a heiress of a castles that wa I enjoyed The Monastery and look forward to reading The Abbot. The story is set in the 1550s on the borders of England and Scotland. It is a time of when Elizabeth 1 is on the English throne and her cousin Mary on the Scottish one. The setting is around a monastery based on the Melrose monastery. The battle between the Protestant reformers and the incumbent Catholic clergy is raging. I liked the story of the two sons Edward and Halbert brought up together with Mary a heiress of a castles that was usurped by her uncle Julien Avenel. The character of the knight Piercie Shafton a comical gallant windbag on the run from England after a failed Catholic plot where he was set up as the patsy. The supernatural element is interesting and entertaining as well as the poetry the White Lady of Avenel uses in her prophecies. A duel, escape, broken hearts, villainy, a battle and political intrigue make a wonderful yarn.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Lobstergirl

    Don't be deterred by the title: only about 10-20% of Scott's novel takes place in a monastery. Also, you don't have to read the whole Waverley "series" and you can read many of them "out of order"; as far as I can tell, most of the novels in the "series" are completely unrelated. This one does apparently have a sequel, so you should read this before The Abbot. The conflict between the Catholic church and the Anglican heretical church is one of the major plotlines, but don't get worked up over tha Don't be deterred by the title: only about 10-20% of Scott's novel takes place in a monastery. Also, you don't have to read the whole Waverley "series" and you can read many of them "out of order"; as far as I can tell, most of the novels in the "series" are completely unrelated. This one does apparently have a sequel, so you should read this before The Abbot. The conflict between the Catholic church and the Anglican heretical church is one of the major plotlines, but don't get worked up over that. All you have to know is that Elizabeth I, queen at the time the novel is set, is an Anglican heretic, and that several of the main characters are living under the protection of the titular Scottish monastery and are seen by the abbot and monks to therefore owe allegiance to the Catholic church. One of them confiscates a lady's heretical Bible, but it gets rescued from a forest phantom (the White Lady of Avenel) and begins to convert people. The novel begins with a frame story. The narrator, Walter Scott, meets a traveler who happens to have a manuscript that needs editing given to him by a Benedictine monk. Would the narrator mind editing and publishing it? Why, no. The edited manuscript begins. Two widows whose husbands have fallen in battle, one a fine lady who has been turned out of her castle, raise their children together in the non-noble lady's tower. The noble lady brings with her a young daughter, and the rustic lady has two young sons. They are raised as if siblings; the gentlelady dies; the boys, the elder bold and fearless, the younger intelligent and bookish, fall in love with the girl Mary (who has no personality) and they all arrive at adolescence. Now enters one of the great male characters of 19th century literature, Sir Piercie Shafton. Piercie is an English cavalier seeking temporary protection in the tower, who can't stop talking about his clothes. And you don't want him to stop talking. His pompous, hilarious speeches are the best thing in the novel*. While living in the tower he usually directs them at Mary, whom he considers the only resident highborn enough to converse with, irritating the older son, Halbert, who seeks help from the White Lady of Avenel. The White Lady instructs Halbert how to piss off Piercie, who challenges Halbert to a duel, which ends most mysteriously, setting the rest of the events of the novel in motion. My 1871 edition had several uncut pages in the middle, so that was exciting. Now we can reveal that Tom Fitzpatrick, the previous owner (his lovely nameplate adorns the endpaper), never got past p. 188. It also has nice etchings, including one by J.M.W. Turner. * Small sample: "Certes, reverend sirs, I may well heave such a suspiration, who have, as it were, exchanged heaven for purgatory, leaving the lightsome sphere of the royal court of England, for a remote nook in this inaccessible desert - quitting the tilt-yard, where I was ever ready among my compeers to splinter a lance, either for the love of honour, or for the honour of love, in order to couch my knightly spear against base and pilfering besognios and marauders - exchanging the lighted halls, wherein I used nimbly to pace the swift coranto, or to move with a loftier grace in the stately galliard, for this rugged and decayed dungeon of rusty-coloured stone - quitting the gay theatre, for the solitary chimney-nook of a Scottish dog-house, bartering the sounds of the soul-ravishing lute, and the love-awakening viol-de-gamba, for the discordant squeak of a northern bagpipe - above all, exchanging the smiles of those beauties who form a galaxy around the throne of England, for the cold courtesy of an untaught damsel, and the bewildered stare of a miller's maiden....Gentle and reverend sir, forgive an unhappy person, who, in giving a history of his miseries, dilateth upon them extremely, even as he who, having fallen from a precipice, looketh upward to measure the height from which he hath been precipitated."

  4. 4 out of 5

    Sotiris Karaiskos

    What I have learned after reading several of Walter Scott's books is that he was a writer who did not want to be stagnant and wanted to try different things, while still maintaining his personal writing style. What he does in this book is a small return to older things, particularly in the field of early Gothic literature. After a historical introduction, the author begins his narrative in a way that reminded me of the books of Ann Radcliffe and other writers of the genre. We move on to the clas What I have learned after reading several of Walter Scott's books is that he was a writer who did not want to be stagnant and wanted to try different things, while still maintaining his personal writing style. What he does in this book is a small return to older things, particularly in the field of early Gothic literature. After a historical introduction, the author begins his narrative in a way that reminded me of the books of Ann Radcliffe and other writers of the genre. We move on to the classical scenery of these books, buildings of Gothic architecture within a beautiful natural landscape that the writer is concerned enough to describe it before going on to this love story that stars brave and passionate men and sensitive women for whom they are capable of doing everything. From the beginning, the tone is more emotional, far from the usual more humorous tone of the author, and until the end becomes more and more dramatic to the very intense finale. Almost from the very beginning, we are faced with another significant differentiation, with the intense metaphysical element playing a predominant role in the evolution of the plot, making this book eluding the realism prevailing in all his past work. This of course does not mean that we fly in the clouds throughout the book, the writer putting his story in the middle of the sixteenth century in a religious place apparently intended to talk about the conflict between the Protestants and the Catholics for sovereignty and that's exactly what he did. Expectingly is taking the Protestants side but this does not prevent him from talking about the hypocrisy of some who adopted the new religion to serve their interests. The basic thing he does, however, is to denounce the hypocrisy and the backwardness of the Catholic Church, contrasting it with the freshness of the reformation and, more generally, with the true religiosity that is the centre of a life full of goodness, which naturally turns us back to the Gothic novel. A very good book, although from what I read it did not had very positive reviews in his era, mainly because of his diversification from his previous works. But I loved it very much because of this very fact and because I have a preference for early Gothic literature. In general, however, the author is more restrained and does not reach the dramatic extremes that are usual in this genre, eventually writing in a way that does not differ as much. He tells, however, an intense story, emotionally rich, with the author creating extraordinary characters who we get to know them well so that we can better understand this historical period and the passions that created. A story that keeps the reader's interest undisturbed until the end and even further after with the promise of a dramatic sequel in the next book. Αυτό που έχω καταλάβει μετά από την ανάγνωση αρκετών βιβλίων του Walter Scott είναι ότι ήταν ένας συγγραφέας που δεν ήθελε να μένει στάσιμος και ήθελε να δοκιμάζει διαφορετικά πράγματα, διατηρώντας, όμως, ακέραιο τον προσωπικό του τρόπο γραφής. Αυτό που κάνει σε αυτό το βιβλίο είναι μία μικρή επιστροφή σε παλαιότερα πράγματα και συγκεκριμένα στο χώρο της πρώιμης γοτθικής λογοτεχνίας. Μετά από μία ιστορική εισαγωγή ο συγγραφέας ξεκινάει την αφήγηση του με έναν τρόπο που μου θύμισε αρκετά τα βιβλία της Ann Radcliffe αλλά και άλλων συγγραφέων του είδους. Μεταφερόμαστε στο κλασικό σκηνικό αυτών των βιβλίων, με τα κτίρια της γοτθικής αρχιτεκτονικής μέσα σε ένα όμορφο φυσικό τοπίο που ο συγγραφέας ασχολείται αρκετά με την περιγραφή του πριν προχωρήσει σε αυτή την ιστορία έρωτα που πρωταγωνιστούν γενναίοι και παθιασμένοι άντρες άντρες και ευαίσθητες γυναίκες για τις οποίες είναι ικανοί να κάνουν τα πάντα. Από την αρχή ο τόνος είναι περισσότερο συναισθηματικός, αρκετά μακριά από τον περισσότερο χιουμοριστικό τόνο που συνηθίζει ο συγγραφέας, και μέχρι το τέλος γίνεται όλο και περισσότερο δραματικός μέχρι το πολύ έντονο φινάλε. Σχεδόν από την αρχή ερχόμαστε αντιμέτωποι και με μία ακόμα σημαντική διαφοροποίηση, με το έντονο μεταφυσικό στοιχείο να παίζει κυρίαρχο ρόλο στην εξέλιξη της πλοκής, κάνοντας αυτό το βιβλίο να ξεφεύγει από τον ρεαλισμό που κυριαρχούσε σε όλα τα προηγούμενα. Αυτό φυσικά δεν σημαίνει ότι πετάμε στα σύννεφα σε όλη τη διάρκεια του βιβλίου, ο συγγραφέας βάζοντας την ιστορία του στα μέσα του δέκατου έκτου αιώνα, σε ένα θρησκευτικό χώρο, προφανώς είχε σκοπό να μιλήσει για την διαμάχη μεταξύ των Προτεσταντών και των Καθολικών για κυριαρχία και αυτό ακριβώς έκανε. Αναμενόμενα παίρνει το μέρος των Προτεσταντών αλλά αυτό δεν τον εμποδίζει να μιλήσει για την υποκρισία κάποιων που υιοθετούσαν την νέα θρησκεία για να εξυπηρετήσουν τα συμφέροντά τους. Το βασικό, όμως, που κάνει είναι να καταγγέλλει την υποκρισία και την οπισθοδρόμηση της καθολικής εκκλησίας, αντιπαραθέτοντας την με την φρεσκάδα της μεταρρύθμισης και γενικότερα με την γνήσια θρησκευτικότητα που είναι το επίκεντρο μιας ζωής γεμάτη καλοσύνη, κάτι που φυσικά μας γυρίζει πάλι στο γοτθικό μυθιστόρημα. Ένα πολύ ωραίο βιβλίο, αν και από ότι διαβάζω δεν είχε και πολύ θετικές κριτικές στην εποχή του, κυρίως εξαιτίας της διαφοροποίησης του από τα προηγούμενα έργα του. Εμένα, όμως, μου άρεσε πάρα πολύ εξαιτίας αυτού ακριβώς του γεγονότος και επειδή έχω μία προτίμηση στην πρώιμη γοτθική λογοτεχνία. Γενικότερα βέβαια ο συγγραφέας είναι περισσότερο συγκρατημένος και δεν φτάνει στις δραματικές ακρότητες που συνηθίζονταν σε αυτό το είδος, γράφοντας τελικά με έναν τρόπο που δεν διαφοροποιείται πόσο πολύ. Αφηγείται, όμως, μία έντονη ιστορία, συναισθηματικά πλούσια, με το συγγραφέα να δημιουργεί εξαιρετικούς χαρακτήρες που φροντίζει να μας τους γνωρίσει καλά, για να μπορέσουμε μέσα από αυτούς να καταλάβουμε καλύτερα αυτήν την ιστορική περίοδο και τα πάθη της. Μία ιστορία που κρατάει το ενδιαφέρον του αναγνώστη αμείωτο μέχρι το τέλος και ακόμα πιο μετά με την υπόσχεση για μία δραματική συνέχεια στο επόμενο βιβλίο.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Tim

    Another epic story, by a masterful story teller, of a time and place and people and events which are now largely forgotten in history. The story is set during the reigna of Queens Elizabeth and Mary, at the time of the Reformation. One of the interesting choices the author makes is to have protagonists (or one might argue antagonists) on all sides of the complex plot. One protagonist is the Sub-Prior of a monastery, while another is a Protestant minister. Another is the warrior son and heir of a Another epic story, by a masterful story teller, of a time and place and people and events which are now largely forgotten in history. The story is set during the reigna of Queens Elizabeth and Mary, at the time of the Reformation. One of the interesting choices the author makes is to have protagonists (or one might argue antagonists) on all sides of the complex plot. One protagonist is the Sub-Prior of a monastery, while another is a Protestant minister. Another is the warrior son and heir of a man who died in a battle, and another is the bookish younger son, both of whom fall in love with an orphan girl who is herself heiress of a castle and title (usurped by an outlaw uncle). Of the many central characters is a Scarlet Pimpernel-like English knight, named Sir Piercie Shafton, whose foppish airs are put on for different reasons than Sir Percy Blakeney. And, as in many of the Waverley novels, there is an element of the mystical, in this case a ghostly being who seems to intervene in strange ways for reasons of her own. One of main plot lines follows Sir Piercie, who is on the run from the forces of Queen Elizabeth. One of the great minor characters is the miller's daughter, who heroically rescues Sir Piercie several times through her courage and ingenuity. In another main plot line, someone has translated the bible into language that the Scots people can read, and the Abbot and Sub-Prior are very keen to apprehend this book, and to put to death all who have read of it. For a lay person to read it is a heresy.The narrative focus shifts from protagonist to protagonist, building to a battle over the monastery and nearby village. The book is a great read, with poetic descriptions of Scotland (e.g., of the willow and oak trees changing colors in the fall), and of the people from all classes in that time period. The conflicts that pit protagonist against protagonist are well-crafted and sympathetic to all sides.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Thomas R.

    This was supposed to be a letdown in the Waverley series, but I enjoyed it nonetheless. Now on to The Abbot!

  7. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    Free download available at Project Gutenberg. INTRODUCTION—(1830.) It would be difficult to assign any good reason why the author of Ivanhoe, after using, in that work, all the art he possessed to remove the personages, action, and manners of the tale, to a distance from his own country, should choose for the scene of his next attempt the celebrated ruins of Melrose, in the immediate neighbourhood of his own residence. But the reason, or caprice, which dictated his change of system, has entirely e Free download available at Project Gutenberg. INTRODUCTION—(1830.) It would be difficult to assign any good reason why the author of Ivanhoe, after using, in that work, all the art he possessed to remove the personages, action, and manners of the tale, to a distance from his own country, should choose for the scene of his next attempt the celebrated ruins of Melrose, in the immediate neighbourhood of his own residence. But the reason, or caprice, which dictated his change of system, has entirely escaped his recollection, nor is it worth while to attempt recalling what must be a matter of very little consequence. 4* Rob Roy 3* The Heart of Mid-Lothian 4* Ivanhoe 3* Waverley 4* The Fair Maid of Perth 4* The Bride of Lammermoor $* Kenilworth 3* The Antiquary 3* The Talisman 4* The Monastery TR The Pirate TR The Waverly Novels: Anne of Geierstein TR The Two Drovers TR The Lady of the Lake

  8. 5 out of 5

    Doreen Petersen

    While the story wasn't bad it was too long and drawn out by the author. I really didn't care for this one.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Book Wormy

    This is a Scott novel so going into it I wasn’t expecting it to be short but in all honesty did it have to be so long winded? Once we got past the bizarre introduction which explains how the story came to be published the story did pick up and I did enjoy the supernatural elements. The problem for me is the story is written so stiffly even the exciting bits didn’t exactly race along, the bits in dialogue I must admit to skimming over because…well life is short and when I finally got to the end it This is a Scott novel so going into it I wasn’t expecting it to be short but in all honesty did it have to be so long winded? Once we got past the bizarre introduction which explains how the story came to be published the story did pick up and I did enjoy the supernatural elements. The problem for me is the story is written so stiffly even the exciting bits didn’t exactly race along, the bits in dialogue I must admit to skimming over because…well life is short and when I finally got to the end it was more a dull fizzle than an worthwhile payoff for the amount of time spent reading. (18 days).

  10. 4 out of 5

    Steve R

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Set on the English-Scottish border in the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, this supposedly unsuccessful entry in the Waverly series revolves around the Catholic convent of the title and two Scottish families: the Glendinnings and the Avanels, both of whom have lost their male heads as the novel opens. The widow of the Avanel estate goes to live with her counterpart of the Glendinnings at the Tower of Glendeareg, a fiefdom under the Monastery. The widow Glendinning has two sons, Halbert and Edward; th Set on the English-Scottish border in the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, this supposedly unsuccessful entry in the Waverly series revolves around the Catholic convent of the title and two Scottish families: the Glendinnings and the Avanels, both of whom have lost their male heads as the novel opens. The widow of the Avanel estate goes to live with her counterpart of the Glendinnings at the Tower of Glendeareg, a fiefdom under the Monastery. The widow Glendinning has two sons, Halbert and Edward; the widow Avanel, one daughter, Mary. Upon the death of the widow Avanel, a black leather bound book is found by one of the monks to be a version of the Holy Sciptures written in the vernacular: a sin of heresy at this time. Confiscating the book, two different monks at different times try to take it back to the monstery only to have a mysterous White Lady of Avanel appear, leave them unconscious and return the book to Glendeareg. At this time, the best character in the book enters:a Euphuist, Sir Piercie Shafton, a man whose flowery phraseology is matched only by his attention to the fanciful manner of his apparel. Putting down Halbert as a rude rustic, a duel eventually follows in which the Euphuist is slain, only to recover miraculously 50 pages or so later. It turns out he is on the run from the English and when captured by Protestant forces from Edinburgh, led by Earl Murray, he is imprisoned at Glendeareg. The daughter of the miller for the monks, Mysie Happer, manages to help him escape. When he is later apprehended, it turns out that his title is but newly owned, as his grandfather was a tailor (hence his over-detailed attention to his clothes). He is thus eligible to marry Mysie, which they do prior to going to Flanders to escape the wrath of the English court. The monastery's forces, led by Julian Avanel, the uncle of Mary, who usurped her mother's rightful place as the head of Avanel castle on the death of her father, are defeated.Both Julian and his wise-cracking lieutenant, Christie of the Clinthill, are slain, as well as Catherine, the pathetic figure of Julian's mistress. Halbert marries Mary and is put in charge over Avanel castle; the monks are allowed to keep their monastery (!) by Murray, and Edward, thwarted in his love for Mary, enters the monastery as a novice. The most unsatisfying part of the story is the failure to elucidate the eventual resting place and significance of the black book, a tome to which the White Lady seems to have attached a high degree of importance. The novel is not as bad as the editor's notes to my edition make it out to be, although the supernatural element is a bit loose-ended, and at least one point of his conclusion seemingly rather artifically forced. Sir Piercie's speeches more than make up for any plot holes, and rather than melodrama, the work is better read as a light comedy.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Craig

    What is not to like about Sir Walter Scott? In this work, he introduces us to a metrosexual knight, faeries, a forbidden book, a wimpy monk, and a motley crew of other knights, cast out preachers and such. This began with a promising start and kept up a consistent and intriguing story and then it deflated at the end. I still thoroughly enjoyed reading it. Scott knows how to write and does it beautifully.

  12. 5 out of 5

    George

    3.5 stars. An interesting, eventful historical fiction novel with a supernatural element, set in the Scottish Borders during the period 1550 to 1575. The Catholic monastery of Kennaquhair comes into conflict with reformist protestants. Old school friends, Catholic sub-prior Eustace of the monastery and Protestant preacher Henry Warden, become enemies. When Sir Piercie Shafton arrives, a refugee from the English court, things become complicated. Shafton is an entertaining character. He is very ve 3.5 stars. An interesting, eventful historical fiction novel with a supernatural element, set in the Scottish Borders during the period 1550 to 1575. The Catholic monastery of Kennaquhair comes into conflict with reformist protestants. Old school friends, Catholic sub-prior Eustace of the monastery and Protestant preacher Henry Warden, become enemies. When Sir Piercie Shafton arrives, a refugee from the English court, things become complicated. Shafton is an entertaining character. He is very verbose, having lots to comment on, for example, the outfits people are wearing. Halbert Glendinning, son of Dame Elspeth who resides in a lonely tower, is a head strong, no nonsense, athletic young man. Halbert quarrels with Shafton and a duel is fought. With the spread of Reformation doctrines, the occupants of the monasteries depended on protection from their tenants and vassals. Whilst ‘The Monastery’ is an entertaining read, I prefer Sir Walter Scott’s novels, ‘Rob Roy’ and ‘Ivanhoe’.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Deborah Kucera

    I enjoyed this once the story started. The introduction at the beginning was a bit long and somewhat unnecessary in my opinion. Once the story started, I found it interesting and wanting to know how it ended. The formatting of the book could be updated, removing the footnotes in the text to an appendix would help the flow of the story, especially since some of them are multiple pages long. Not a sit at the edge of your seat page-turner, but The Monastery is worth the time. I look forward to read I enjoyed this once the story started. The introduction at the beginning was a bit long and somewhat unnecessary in my opinion. Once the story started, I found it interesting and wanting to know how it ended. The formatting of the book could be updated, removing the footnotes in the text to an appendix would help the flow of the story, especially since some of them are multiple pages long. Not a sit at the edge of your seat page-turner, but The Monastery is worth the time. I look forward to reading the second book in the series - The Abbot.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Norman Howe

    Scott throws bits of several different genres together in this one. There is a surprising lack of villains, and a remarkable appreciation of the real issues involved in the Protestant Reformation. There are many loose ends, leaving room for the sequel, "The Abbot."

  15. 5 out of 5

    Nancy Hammons

    This was volume one of the Monastery in this set, I'm going to not start volume two yet.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Alice Yoder

    I'm not a fan of Scott...….too much going on with too many characters to remember. I'm assuming this was written as a serial and therefore so many words...….

  17. 5 out of 5

    Jill M Caldwell

    Not what I expected. This book doesn't flow well, and the character development was not satisfactory for me. It might appeal to a different audience, but I was looking for something less predictable.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Martin

    Now that I've read three Scott novels (and won't read any more of his works ever again), I totally understand his...tao, for lack of a better word: 1) Note ridiculously superfluous details with a too-keen eye and bore your reader to death because you focus too much on this and forget to tell a story. 2) Have a boring story to tell boringly. Nothing interesting happens here, at all. There are no compelling characters, not a good hero, nor a good villain, nor a fun romance, not really any inspiration Now that I've read three Scott novels (and won't read any more of his works ever again), I totally understand his...tao, for lack of a better word: 1) Note ridiculously superfluous details with a too-keen eye and bore your reader to death because you focus too much on this and forget to tell a story. 2) Have a boring story to tell boringly. Nothing interesting happens here, at all. There are no compelling characters, not a good hero, nor a good villain, nor a fun romance, not really any inspirational derring-do. Nothing. Bleh. He couldn't even make the Monastery interesting. It's called The Monastery, for Pete's Sake. Can something interesting happen there? Can the monastery at least be interesting? Can anything be interesting? Or hey, can more than a slice of the novel actually take place there? No? Hello? Walter? Sir?

  19. 5 out of 5

    Emmanuel Gustin

    I intended (and still intend) to read The Abbott, which I think I read in a heavily edited and translated version in my youth. As The Monastery is a prequel to it, the two came bundled in the e-book. I read it on my smartphone in bits and pieces over a quite long time. Of course that cannot be what the author had in mind, but somehow the book with its 37 chapters very much favours that approach. It is essentially a chain of dramatic, often melodramatic scenes, loosely held together by a somewhat I intended (and still intend) to read The Abbott, which I think I read in a heavily edited and translated version in my youth. As The Monastery is a prequel to it, the two came bundled in the e-book. I read it on my smartphone in bits and pieces over a quite long time. Of course that cannot be what the author had in mind, but somehow the book with its 37 chapters very much favours that approach. It is essentially a chain of dramatic, often melodramatic scenes, loosely held together by a somewhat unlikely plot. Scott even inserted a supernatural element, which almost brings The Abbott in the realm of fantasy rather than that of historical novels. And not only do the mischievous actions of this spirit, which drive a good part of the story, remain unexplained, but most of Scott's characters show an inexplicable lack of curiosity about it. The book is rescued by Scott's collection of characters, perhaps better called caricatures: The lazy and pompous Abbot Boniface, the roguish Christie of the Clinthill, the resourceful Mysie, the grumpy Morton, and the hilariously vain Sir Piercie Shafton, no doubt a distant ancestor of Sir Humphrey Appleby. They don't have much complexity, but they serve their purpose. Nevertheless, probably due to the lack of any firm framework underlying a twisting plot, the book almost peters out rather than ending -- "and they lived happily ever after", but not quite. As a prequel, it may need to the sequel.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Perry Whitford

    The Monastery has a perfect setting for a Scottish tale, the remote tower of Glendearg, which is largely hidden in "so wild and dreary a spot" that it lends itself perfectly to a ghost story. It's the later half of the 16th century and The Reformation has the clergy of the organised church all in a tither about the dissemination of Holy Scripture in the "vulgar tongue", namely English. Meanwhile, a mixed family of Scottish Borderers, decimated and disenfranchised by the "Southron" and a usurping The Monastery has a perfect setting for a Scottish tale, the remote tower of Glendearg, which is largely hidden in "so wild and dreary a spot" that it lends itself perfectly to a ghost story. It's the later half of the 16th century and The Reformation has the clergy of the organised church all in a tither about the dissemination of Holy Scripture in the "vulgar tongue", namely English. Meanwhile, a mixed family of Scottish Borderers, decimated and disenfranchised by the "Southron" and a usurping uncle in the fallout from the Battle of Pinkiecleugh, seek to hold onto what's theirs. They seem to have the support of the local supernatural spirits, especially the White Lady of Avendel. However, her support is ambivalent in nature: "What I am I must not show- What I am thou couldst not know- Something betwixt heaven and hell- Somrthing that neither stood nor fell- Something that through thy wit or will May work thee good-may work thee ill." More complex in tone and sympathies than most of the Waverley novels I have read, this tale of two brothers who take differing paths is a decent read, one which contained enough complexity of plot and character to require a sequel, called The Abbot. I haven't read that yet but surely will.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Philip Lane

    A bit of a confused story with a rather abrupt ending. Set in Elizabethan times in the border lands just inside Scotland we follow two families and the senior monks caught up in family, political and religious quarrels. It's also a ghost story as a white lady appears from time to time and stirs up fear and distrust. There are some good bits of narrative and I got quite excited by certain episodes - however there were too many asides - mainly attempts to assert the veracity of the text. For Scott A bit of a confused story with a rather abrupt ending. Set in Elizabethan times in the border lands just inside Scotland we follow two families and the senior monks caught up in family, political and religious quarrels. It's also a ghost story as a white lady appears from time to time and stirs up fear and distrust. There are some good bits of narrative and I got quite excited by certain episodes - however there were too many asides - mainly attempts to assert the veracity of the text. For Scott the set pieces were toned down and battles rather skirted over - which for me was good. The religious conflict also is not examined in any theological depth but seen more as a battle between characters - the Protestant preacher being much more vehement in his pursuance of morality. Entertaining but not sustaining.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Lucy

    If only Sir Walter had jettisoned the 'story within a story' idea, his books would be a lot more readable. And reading on an e-reader, it's much more difficult to scan or skip footnotes, and this one is full of footnotes.... But it's worth reading for Sir Piercie and the Maid of the Mill, and the internal poetry, in this case from the supernatural deus ex machina, is surprisingly comprehensible. I'm not sure I'll manage to fulfil my ambition to read all his novels, though, I'm still not halfway th If only Sir Walter had jettisoned the 'story within a story' idea, his books would be a lot more readable. And reading on an e-reader, it's much more difficult to scan or skip footnotes, and this one is full of footnotes.... But it's worth reading for Sir Piercie and the Maid of the Mill, and the internal poetry, in this case from the supernatural deus ex machina, is surprisingly comprehensible. I'm not sure I'll manage to fulfil my ambition to read all his novels, though, I'm still not halfway there....

  23. 5 out of 5

    Ian

    One of those early 19th century novels that pretends to be a discovered manuscript rather than a historical novel. A Catholic Scottish monastery struggling to survive, post-reformation. Wild times in the Border country. Two brothers in love with the same girl. A mysterious white lady spirit, summoned from a fountain. Castles, rough men-at-arms, an orphaned heroine. All the ingredients are here, but Scott cannot fashion them into a story that succeeds more than intermittently. Not one of his bett One of those early 19th century novels that pretends to be a discovered manuscript rather than a historical novel. A Catholic Scottish monastery struggling to survive, post-reformation. Wild times in the Border country. Two brothers in love with the same girl. A mysterious white lady spirit, summoned from a fountain. Castles, rough men-at-arms, an orphaned heroine. All the ingredients are here, but Scott cannot fashion them into a story that succeeds more than intermittently. Not one of his better novels, as even the introduction to my Everyman edition admits.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Katie

    I liked the story and the characters in this book. There is a sequel, The Abbot, which the end of this book hints will be a tragedy. I'm not a fan of tragedy, but I really liked this book. Maybe I shouldn't read the next one, and just enjoy the basically happy ending to this one, but I will probably read the next one.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Diane

    This book is a typical Walter Scott novel, focusing on a Scottish monastery at the time of the Reformation. It is written in Scott's trademark swashbuckling style, but is not up to the level of many of his other novels. I think the fact that he doesn't use stock characters or base the story (at least in part) on folktales hurts the overall book.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Raymond Fraser

    An enjoyable read and good company, but while it has many fine passages it's not one of Scott's very best. Not up there with KENILWORTH, which is my favourite. I finished it a year ago, by the way, but Goodreads insists I'm still reading it, no matter what I say.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Susana

    lido em português: A Lenda da Dama Branca

  28. 4 out of 5

    Deep2

    good book

  29. 5 out of 5

    Victoria Jackson

    Not as good as Talisman, would give 3-4 stars. Not quite clear about character Percy. Some mysticism, set in Elizabethan times, catholics v protestants, but interesting story.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Rodrigo

    Long and complicated story...a bit confusing but, as usual, the sceneries and scottish ambientation is worth the reading.

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