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Old Mortality by Sir Walter Scott, Fiction, Historical, Literary, Classics

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Set in 1679 during the Scottish populist rebellion we remember as the Covenanter uprising, this historical romantic novel tells the story of Henry Morton, a moderate Covenanter, torn between his love for Edith, the granddaughter of royalist Lady Margaret Bellenden, and loyalty to his countrymen's cause. Henry Morton is a hero for the people, one willing to stand up for wha Set in 1679 during the Scottish populist rebellion we remember as the Covenanter uprising, this historical romantic novel tells the story of Henry Morton, a moderate Covenanter, torn between his love for Edith, the granddaughter of royalist Lady Margaret Bellenden, and loyalty to his countrymen's cause. Henry Morton is a hero for the people, one willing to stand up for what he believes and challenge the authority of King Charles II. His actions change the course of Scottish history.


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Set in 1679 during the Scottish populist rebellion we remember as the Covenanter uprising, this historical romantic novel tells the story of Henry Morton, a moderate Covenanter, torn between his love for Edith, the granddaughter of royalist Lady Margaret Bellenden, and loyalty to his countrymen's cause. Henry Morton is a hero for the people, one willing to stand up for wha Set in 1679 during the Scottish populist rebellion we remember as the Covenanter uprising, this historical romantic novel tells the story of Henry Morton, a moderate Covenanter, torn between his love for Edith, the granddaughter of royalist Lady Margaret Bellenden, and loyalty to his countrymen's cause. Henry Morton is a hero for the people, one willing to stand up for what he believes and challenge the authority of King Charles II. His actions change the course of Scottish history.

30 review for Old Mortality by Sir Walter Scott, Fiction, Historical, Literary, Classics

  1. 5 out of 5

    Joanna

    My admiration of Scott seems to grow with every book I read. I really think that if his works, and other historical novels of merit (like Cooper! 😁) were read in schools, it would greatly help students develop a love and respect for history. 'Old Mortality' is set during the 1679 rebellion of the Covenanters, immediately after the assassination of the Archbishop of St. Andrews. The story is very intense and sometimes rather gruesome, but there were some really humorous scenes as well! I also enj My admiration of Scott seems to grow with every book I read. I really think that if his works, and other historical novels of merit (like Cooper! 😁) were read in schools, it would greatly help students develop a love and respect for history. 'Old Mortality' is set during the 1679 rebellion of the Covenanters, immediately after the assassination of the Archbishop of St. Andrews. The story is very intense and sometimes rather gruesome, but there were some really humorous scenes as well! I also enjoyed the Scottish dialect spoken by many of the characters...it can be a challenge to understand at times, but having read Robert Burns, I was able to understand it pretty well. 😂 I'm not sure what was going on with the names of the preachers, though! Peter Poundtext, Gabriel Kettledrummle, Richard Rumbleberry, and Habakkuk Mucklewrath, (all of whom rather lived up to their names!) made me feel like I was reading John Bunyan! 😂 Although Scott clearly shows the fanaticism of many of the Covenanters, he also makes it clear that the persecutions they endured went a long way in augmenting that. From everything I know of Scott, he was a devout Christian (and a Presbyterian!), so I don't think he was ridiculing clergy in general as it might seem. A wonderful read! 😊

  2. 5 out of 5

    Toria

    This was an interesting classic I hadn't heard about before. I've heard about and read from Walter Scott before but don't have a huge idea of every book hos written. All though this book didn't' have many strong feelings for it but I'm glad that i gave it a try This was an interesting classic I hadn't heard about before. I've heard about and read from Walter Scott before but don't have a huge idea of every book hos written. All though this book didn't' have many strong feelings for it but I'm glad that i gave it a try

  3. 4 out of 5

    Sotiris Karaiskos

    Religious differences have always been an issue that has deeply divided Scotland in most of its history, often causing conflicts in many areas, from politics to football. Especially at the end of the 17th century the situation had been greatly deteriorated, with the religious controversy causing many victims. The author of this book writes about this division, condemning absolutely the religious fanaticism and presenting the leaders of the fanatics as aloft men who expressed a Christianism viole Religious differences have always been an issue that has deeply divided Scotland in most of its history, often causing conflicts in many areas, from politics to football. Especially at the end of the 17th century the situation had been greatly deteriorated, with the religious controversy causing many victims. The author of this book writes about this division, condemning absolutely the religious fanaticism and presenting the leaders of the fanatics as aloft men who expressed a Christianism violent and avenging. In this climate our heroes live and drift into this battle, with others following this violent mentality, others being the victims, others trying to understand this situation, and others trying to limit the disaster in order to be able to return to a peaceful life. These efforts lead us to the heart of the action, in the midst of critical battles that the author expectingly describe in the most exciting way. Above all, however, what the author does is to bring to us so lively this era of division, with the passions and intense feelings, fears and anxieties that prevailed in his effort to pass a message of unity, peace and moderation for his time but of course for all time and this is something that gives the book a special value. On the other hand, however, the writer's attachment to his basic theme feels that it is at the expense of emotion, with the description of the historical context limiting the influence of some of the characters on the reader, but all this does not change my viewpoint for the quality of this book. Οι θρησκευτικές διαφορές ήταν πάντα ένα θέμα που δίχαζε βαθύτατα τη Σκωτία στο μεγαλύτερο μέρος της ιστορίας της, προκαλώντας πολλές φορές συγκρούσεις σε πολλούς τομείς, από την πολιτική μέχρι το ποδόσφαιρο. Ειδικά στα τέλη του 17ου αιώνα η κατάσταση είχε εκτραχυνθεί σε πολύ μεγάλο βαθμό, με τη θρησκευτική διαμάχη να προκαλεί πολλά θύματα. Σε αυτόν τον διχασμό αναφέρεται ο συγγραφέας αυτού του βιβλίου, καταδικάζοντας απόλυτα τον θρησκευτικό φανατισμό και παρουσιάζοντας τους ηγέτες των φανατικών ως αλλόφρονες που εξέφραζαν έναν χριστιανισμό βίαιο και εκδικητικό. Σε αυτό το κλίμα ζουν οι ήρωες μας και παρασύρονται σε αυτή τη μάχη, με άλλους να ακολουθούν αυτή τη βίαιη νοοτροπία, άλλους να είναι τα θύματα, άλλους να προσπαθούν να καταλάβουν αυτήν την κατάσταση και άλλους να προσπαθούν να περιορίσουν την καταστροφή, για να μπορέσουν να επιστρέψουν σε μία ειρηνική ζωή. Αυτές οι προσπάθειες μας οδηγούν στην καρδιά των εξελίξεων, στη μέση κρίσιμων μαχών που αναμενόμενα ο συγγραφέας τις περιγράφει με τον πιο συναρπαστικό τρόπο. Πάνω από όλα, όμως, αυτό που ο συγγραφέας κάνει είναι να μας μεταφέρει τόσο ζωντανά αυτή την εποχή του διχασμού, με τα πάθη και τα έντονα συναισθήματα, τους φόβους και τις αγωνίες που κυριαρχούσαν, στην προσπάθειά του να περάσει ένα μήνυμα ενότητας, ειρήνης και μετριοπάθειας για την εποχή του αλλά φυσικά και για όλες τις εποχές και αυτό είναι κάτι που δίνει στο βιβλίο μία ιδιαίτερη αξία. Από την άλλη, όμως, αυτή η προσήλωση του συγγραφέα στο βασικό θέμα του νιώθω ότι έρχεται σε βάρος του συναισθήματος, με την περιγραφή του ιστορικού πλαισίου να περιορίζει την επίδραση κάποιων από τους χαρακτήρες στον αναγνώστη αλλά όλα αυτά δεν αλλάζουν σημαντικά την άποψή μου για την ποιότητα αυτού του βιβλίου.

  4. 5 out of 5

    John

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Old Mortality is the second volume of Tales of My Landlord, which was made up of four volumes with each containing a separate Scottish regional tale. The name Old Mortality comes from a meeting Scott had with a man that had spent 40 years wandering around Scotland with his donkey maintaining the graves and monuments of Covenanters killed in the rebellion. Old Mortality takes place in 1679 when the Royalist forces led by John Graham of Claverhouse engage with the Covenanting army. The Covenanters Old Mortality is the second volume of Tales of My Landlord, which was made up of four volumes with each containing a separate Scottish regional tale. The name Old Mortality comes from a meeting Scott had with a man that had spent 40 years wandering around Scotland with his donkey maintaining the graves and monuments of Covenanters killed in the rebellion. Old Mortality takes place in 1679 when the Royalist forces led by John Graham of Claverhouse engage with the Covenanting army. The Covenanters oppose the reintroduction of Episcopalian church government or Erastianism by Charles II. It led to 270 ministers without work and hence poverty as they refused to take an oath of allegiance. However, the ministers still had the loyalty of their parishioners and conducted worship in remote places. The assaissination of the Archbishop led to a rebellion between the Covenanters and Royalists. The hero of the story is Henry Morton of Milnwood, a Presbyterian. He is arrested by Claverhouse's troops for hiding John Balfour of Burley who was involved in the murder of the Archbishop. Morton is sentenced to death and the is saved by Lord Evandale, his rival for the hand of Edith Bellenden. He escapes when the Convenaters defeat the Royalists at the Battle of Drumclog and joins the Covenanters as one of their military leaders. He is moderate in his views as opposed to the lunacy of some of his colleagues. During the story he manages to save Lord Evandale's life twice and after the battle of Bothwell Bridge, Evandale returns the favour and Morton is sent into exile to Holland. Several years later he returns and he is thought dead by everyone as the ship he was on to Holland sank with the loss of all hands. On his return he finds Edith about to marry Evandale and she see's him outside a window and thinks he is a ghost and see's this as a bad sign and omen so refuses to marry Evandale. Morton also meets Burley where they argue and then Morton finds out that Evandale is to be murdered and tries to save him. He fails and gets the girl. I enjoyed the story with the romance, battles, conflict amongst the Convenanters, the humourous Cuddie, Morton's servant and the scenery descriptions especially Burley's hideout are excellent. I also have been to Fife so the area is familiar in parts where the story is set.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Carol Storm

    Sir Walter Scott goes nasty -- beyond knights and damsels -- into a world of religious hatred and sectarian violence that remains more relevant than ever today! I read this book as a teenager in the Seventies, and what I loved even better than the action, adventure, and romance was the striking similarities between the "culture war" of 17th century Scotland and the lingering bitterness in America at the end of the Vietnam era. The story of the Protestant uprising in rural Scotland depicts short-h Sir Walter Scott goes nasty -- beyond knights and damsels -- into a world of religious hatred and sectarian violence that remains more relevant than ever today! I read this book as a teenager in the Seventies, and what I loved even better than the action, adventure, and romance was the striking similarities between the "culture war" of 17th century Scotland and the lingering bitterness in America at the end of the Vietnam era. The story of the Protestant uprising in rural Scotland depicts short-haired, religious "Covenanters" who despise learning, culture, pleasure and the arts against long-haired, aristocratic "Cavaliers" who despise religion, morality, and hard work but consider themselves refined and truly civilized. When I read the book I felt a deep identification with the Covenanters. Not only were they clearly related to the Puritans who founded America, but the people they hated -- foppish, decadent, arrogant and overly cultured Cavaliers -- reminded me in striking ways of the spoiled, self-involved student protestors of the Sixties, many of whom later became college professors, journalists, and the like. It was no fun being a teenager in the Seventies, because these nice people were always around -- on the radio, on Television, at the movies -- to remind teenagers like me that we didn't count, that our music was second rate, that we had nothing useful to contribute to American life, and that our very existence was somehow a betrayal of values we never suppported in the first place. Perhaps the most chilling moment in OLD MORTALITY is when Sgt. Bothwell -- boozed up, and equally drunk on his own aristocratic identity as a "bastard" grandson of King James I -- attempts to mock Burley of Balfour, in much the same way a Manhattan professor of the mid-Eighties might ridicule a Born Again preacher, or a Vietnam Veteran, (or even, dare I suggest, a scholarship student from out of town.) Without ever losing his temper, Balfour challenges Bothwell, knocks him down, knocks the wind out of him, and promises with deadly calm to meet him again any time and fix things so that he will never get up again. It's a strangely modern scene, tough and gripping and worthy of Quentin Tarantino at his best. The terrible hatred between these two men prefigures the epic clash between "hardhats" and "longhairs" in the Sixties -- except that in OLD MORTALITY the hardhats win. Shocking!!!

  6. 5 out of 5

    Steve R

    Set in the late 17th century, the novel focuses on one Henry Morton, who becomes involved with the armed struggle of the Covenanters - who wished a return to pure Presbyterianism in Scotland - and the Cavaliers, or supporters of the English monarch and, thereby, of the Church of England. Two battles are detailed: that of Drumclog, in which the Covenanters were largely successful, and that of Bothwell Bridge, in which factionalism within the Convenanter ranks led to a less propitious result. Scot Set in the late 17th century, the novel focuses on one Henry Morton, who becomes involved with the armed struggle of the Covenanters - who wished a return to pure Presbyterianism in Scotland - and the Cavaliers, or supporters of the English monarch and, thereby, of the Church of England. Two battles are detailed: that of Drumclog, in which the Covenanters were largely successful, and that of Bothwell Bridge, in which factionalism within the Convenanter ranks led to a less propitious result. Scott is quite adept at describing the extremism on both sides of the issue, and the manner in which one's loyalties, if one had anything resembling an open mind, could be mixed. Morton cares for Edith Bellenden, a daughter in a Royalist family which opposes the uprising, and after he flees the Bothwell battle scene, he is captured and branded a traitor by the more extreme Covenanters. Things work their way out as they usually do in Scott's complex interweaving of characters and situations. Generally regarded as one of the better Waverley novels, except for the factionalism and his description of the range of opinions on both sides, nothing much remains in my memory of this book.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Stephen Hicks

    Old Mortality was the first Sir Walter Scott book I had the pleasure of picking up. There are pretty significant growing pains when it comes to becoming fluent in the Scottish dialect he so often writes in, but, by the end, that regional detail really adds to the overall texture of the book. I also enjoyed this book as it gave me some insight and initiated some extra-curricular research into the Presbyterian tradition of which I am a part. This book centers around the tensions between religious Old Mortality was the first Sir Walter Scott book I had the pleasure of picking up. There are pretty significant growing pains when it comes to becoming fluent in the Scottish dialect he so often writes in, but, by the end, that regional detail really adds to the overall texture of the book. I also enjoyed this book as it gave me some insight and initiated some extra-curricular research into the Presbyterian tradition of which I am a part. This book centers around the tensions between religious zeal, civil discord, minority oppression, and nobility. And Scott weaves a most brilliant web of those tensions in some fantastic characters like Henry Morton and Burley of Balfour, and Lord Evandale. The storyline really picked up after the first 75-100 pages and after that the pages turned themselves. This book has the ability to provoke some very penetrating questions with its historically contextualized plot. The perennial concept of church v state; Christian unity between denominations; interpretation/application of Old Testament texts; the extreme politicization of religious dogma; civility and mercy in the face of your enemies; a classy chivalrous romantic subplot. It’s all there.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Kim

    "Old Mortality" is a novel by Sir Walter Scott set in 1679 in south west Scotland. Along with "The Black Dwarf", it forms Scott's "Tales of My Landlord". "Old Mortality" was planned as the second volume of the Tales, which was originally to consist of four volumes each containing a separate regional tale. As the story took hold of Scott's imagination, however, it expanded to fill three volumes, the standard length for a novel. The two novels were published together in 1816. "Old Mortality" is co "Old Mortality" is a novel by Sir Walter Scott set in 1679 in south west Scotland. Along with "The Black Dwarf", it forms Scott's "Tales of My Landlord". "Old Mortality" was planned as the second volume of the Tales, which was originally to consist of four volumes each containing a separate regional tale. As the story took hold of Scott's imagination, however, it expanded to fill three volumes, the standard length for a novel. The two novels were published together in 1816. "Old Mortality" is considered by many as one of Scott's best novels. I am not one of the many, this book just made me tired, it made me feel worn out by the end. It didn't help that I had just got through "The Black Dwarf" that almost drove me crazy with the Scottish dialect, and it also probably didn't help that we were stranded in a hotel room with our only means of transporation broken down in a truck garage at the time, but even in perfect circumstances "Old Mortality" still wouldn't be on my favorite list. If I had to tell you what this book was about in one sentence, which is how my sister always asks me to tell her what books are about "in one sentence". I'd tell you it was a book about people hating other people. Everybody in this book seemed to hate everybody else in this book. There were so many different groups of people hating so many other different groups of people that I'm not sure how they kept straight who it was that was on their side and who it was that was their enemy and it would have made life much easier just to try to get along with each other. But that doesn't happen. So as far as I can tell the Protestants hated the Catholics, and the Catholics hated the Protestants, the Presbyterians hated the Catholics and the Episcopalians and the Episcopalians hated them back; there are Jacobites and Covenanters and rigid Presbyterians and moderate Presbyterians. There are gentry and landowners and crown vassals, tenants, peasants, Dukes and Lords and Generals and lots and lots of soldiers. They all spend most of their time fighting with at least half of the other groups mentioned in the book. The Covenanters have an easier way, instead of trying to figure out who to fight with, they just fight with everyone as seen here during a sermon given by one of their pastors: "presently he charged the guilt and misery of the people on the awful negligence of their rulers, who had not only failed to establish presbytery as the national religion, but had tolerated sectaries of various descriptions, Papists, Prelatists, Erastians, assuming the name of Presbyterians, Independents, Socinians, and Quakers: all of whom Kettledrummle proposed, by one sweeping act, to expel from the land, and thus re-edify in its integrity the beauty of the sanctuary." Then there is this: "Burley and his confederates had drawn together a considerable body of these sectaries, amounting to a hundred horse and about fifteen hundred foot, clouded and severe in aspect, morose and jealous in communication, haughty of heart, and confident, as men who believed that the pale of salvation was open for them exclusively; while all other Christians, however slight were the shades of difference of doctrine from their own, were in fact little better than outcasts or reprobates." And then this: "You are right," said Claverhouse, with a smile; "you are very right—we are both fanatics; but there is some distinction between the fanaticism of honour and that of dark and sullen superstition." "Yet you both shed blood without mercy or remorse," said Morton, who could not suppress his feelings. "Surely," said Claverhouse, with the same composure; "but of what kind?—There is a difference, I trust, between the blood of learned and reverend prelates and scholars, of gallant soldiers and noble gentlemen, and the red puddle that stagnates in the veins of psalm-singing mechanics, crackbrained demagogues, and sullen boors;—some distinction, in short, between spilling a flask of generous wine, and dashing down a can full of base muddy ale?" As I said,I just get tired of everybody fighting. As to the actual characters in the book, our hero is Henry Morton of Milnwood, a moderate Presbyterian, Morton is arrested for harbouring John Burley of Balfour, a Covenanting friend of his father. Unknown to Morton, Burley has participated in the murder of Archbishop Sharpe of St. Andrews (hated by the Covenanters for deserting their cause and aiding the restoration of Episcopalianism), the event triggers the uprising. Morton is sentenced to death but is saved through the intervention of Lord Evandale, rival for the hand of Edith Bellenden, the woman both men love. Edith belongs to a Royalist family, that's not important to me any more than it's important that Evandale is a Lord or Morton is a Presbyterian, but it's important to everyone else in the novel, so picture me sighing right now. As the story goes on the men become friends even though they are fighting on opposite sides of this annoying war. Morton doesn't like the oppressive behaviour of the government forces which I can't really blame him for especially after they plan to execute him, so he joins the Covenanters and becomes one of their military leaders. He tries to check the cruel fanaticism of many of his colleagues, it doesn't work but he tries, however I just never really came to like Morton, oh I liked him better than a lot of the other people in the novel, but anyone would. One of the only people I did really like was Lord Evandale. I was cheering for him the whole book. We also have the Reverand Gabriel Kettledrummle one of the Covenators who loved to talk and talk and talk: "Two mortal hours did he preach at a breathing; and certainly no lungs, or doctrine, excepting his own, could have kept up, for so long a time, the attention of men in such precarious circumstances. But he possessed in perfection a sort of rude and familiar eloquence peculiar to the preachers of that period, which, though it would have been fastidiously rejected by an audience which possessed any portion of taste, was a cake of the right leaven for the palates of those whom he now addressed." Just knowing I was about to hear a two hour sermon from anyone just may be enough to get me to go to the next church down the street, or in the case of my church, the one across the street. And Gabriel is just a regular guy compared to another of the Covenator preachers, Habakkuk Mucklewrath: "Who talks of safe conduct and of peace?" said a shrill, broken, and overstrained voice, from the crowd. "Peace, brother Habakkuk," said Macbriar, in a soothing tone, to the speaker. "I will not hold my peace," reiterated the strange and unnatural voice; "is this a time to speak of peace, when the earth quakes, and the mountains are rent, and the rivers are changed into blood, and the two-edged sword is drawn from the sheath to drink gore as if it were water, and devour flesh as the fire devours dry stubble?" While he spoke thus, the orator struggled forward to the inner part of the circle, and presented to Morton's wondering eyes a figure worthy of such a voice and such language. The rags of a dress which had once been black, added to the tattered fragments of a shepherd's plaid, composed a covering scarce fit for the purposes of decency, much less for those of warmth or comfort. A long beard, as white as snow, hung down on his breast, and mingled with bushy, uncombed, grizzled hair, which hung in elf-locks around his wild and staring visage. The features seemed to be extenuated by penury and famine, until they hardly retained the likeness of a human aspect. The eyes, grey, wild, and wandering, evidently betokened a bewildered imagination. He held in his hand a rusty sword, clotted with blood, as were his long lean hands, which were garnished at the extremity with nails like eagle's claws. "In the name of Heaven! who is he?" said Morton, in a whisper to Poundtext, surprised, shocked, and even startled, at this ghastly apparition, which looked more like the resurrection of some cannibal priest, or druid red from his human sacrifice, than like an earthly mortal. "It is Habakkuk Mucklewrath," answered Poundtext, in the same tone, "whom the enemy have long detained in captivity in forts and castles, until his understanding hath departed from him, and, as I fear, an evil demon hath possessed him. Nevertheless, our violent brethren will have it, that he speaketh of the spirit, and that they fructify by his pouring forth." Here he was interrupted by Mucklewrath, who cried in a voice that made the very beams of the roof quiver—"Who talks of peace and safe conduct? who speaks of mercy to the bloody house of the malignants? I say take the infants and dash them against the stones; take the daughters and the mothers of the house and hurl them from the battlements of their trust, that the dogs may fatten on their blood as they did on that of Jezabel, the spouse of Ahab, and that their carcasses may be dung to the face of the field even in the portion of their fathers!" One of the things that struck me about the book comes not so much from the book as from reading things about the book other people have written. At different places I have read how Scott was clearly not sympathetic to the Covenators, that he portrayed them in such a bad light. That the "coolness of Scott's attitute to the Covenators was unmistakable". I hadn't seen it that way. Yes, he certainly made the Covenators seem awful to me, but he made those on the other side of the arguement, the government I guess it would be, pretty awful too. I thought pretty near everyone in the book, everyone holding a weapon or a bible that is, were just plain crazy, no matter what side they were on. One of the reasons given in an article I read as to why you could tell that Scott was against the Covenators was that "there was no beautiful maiden on the Covenanters' side, to present their cause to us in ardent and seductive terms". I will admit that, the only main female character that I can remember who was a Covenanter was Cuddie Headrigg's mother, and that lady was crazier than I am. I'm still sticking to Covenators or no Covenators, these people were crazy. The last character that I want to mention, one I did like, is Cuddie Headrigg. Cuddie is a peasant who reluctantly joins the rebellion because of his personal loyalty to Morton, as well as his own fanatical Covenanting mother, this lady almost drove me crazy; Cuddie acts as a manservant to Morton and he was the one who would make me smile, when I could understand what he was saying that is which brings me to this, the Scottish dialect again. Here you go, enjoy some samples: "I wotna if it's pillaging, or how ye ca't," said Cuddie, "but it comes natural to a body, and it's a profitable trade. Our folk had tirled the dead dragoons as bare as bawbees before we were loose amaist.—But when I saw the Whigs a' weel yokit by the lugs to Kettledrummle and the other chield, I set off at the lang trot on my ain errand and your honour's. Sae I took up the syke a wee bit, away to the right, where I saw the marks o'mony a horsefoot, and sure eneugh I cam to a place where there had been some clean leatherin', and a' the puir chields were lying there buskit wi' their claes just as they had put them on that morning—naebody had found out that pose o' carcages—and wha suld be in the midst thereof (as my mither says) but our auld acquaintance, Sergeant Bothwell?" There's also: "Haena I e'en now?" said Cuddie, with great exultation. "I tauld ye I wasna that dooms stupid, if it cam to lifting things.—And forby, I hae gotten twa gude horse. A feckless loon of a Straven weaver, that has left his loom and his bein house to sit skirling on a cauld hill-side, had catched twa dragoon naigs, and he could neither gar them hup nor wind, sae he took a gowd noble for them baith—I suld hae tried him wi' half the siller, but it's an unco ill place to get change in—Ye'll find the siller's missing out o' Bothwell's purse." I cheated the leddy for your clavers, but I wasna gaun to cheat my joe. But she may marry whae she likes now, for I'm clean dung ower. This is a waur dirdum than we got frae Mr Gudyill when ye garr'd me refuse to eat the plum-porridge on Yule-eve, as if it were ony matter to God or man whether a pleughman had suppit on minched pies or sour sowens." And again: "That wad sort ill wi' the auld leddy, to be sure," said Cuddie; "she wad hardly win ower a lang day in the baggage-wain." "Then sic a flyting as there wad be between them, a' about Whig and Tory," continued Jenny. "To be sure," said Cuddie, "the auld leddy 's unto kittle in thae points." If you have all that sorted out and are ready for more, go get the book, between The Black Dwarf and Old Mortality there is plenty of Scottish dialect for you to get through. I am tempted to put both books on my re-read lists mainly because I can tell I am finally getting the hang of the dialect, some of it anyway, others is still a mystery, so since it is slowly becoming clearer to me, perhaps in a re-read it would read so much easier and smoother. However, I am in no mood right now for a trip back through Waverly and I have a feeling that by the time the book comes up again on my re-reading I'll have forgotten my Scottish dialect all over again. Oh well, such is life. On to the next book.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Edward

    I have avoided Walter Scott as one of those long-winded l9th century writers of historical romance that I don't have time to read, whatever their merits. But a friend recommended OLD MORTALITY, claiming it was one of Scott's better novels, so I picked it up reluctantly. I was pleasantly surprised. It depicts the late 17th century religious wars between the Scottish Presbyterian "Covenanters" and the English Crown. The Covenanters believed in a purity of doctrine that allowed them total liberty a I have avoided Walter Scott as one of those long-winded l9th century writers of historical romance that I don't have time to read, whatever their merits. But a friend recommended OLD MORTALITY, claiming it was one of Scott's better novels, so I picked it up reluctantly. I was pleasantly surprised. It depicts the late 17th century religious wars between the Scottish Presbyterian "Covenanters" and the English Crown. The Covenanters believed in a purity of doctrine that allowed them total liberty and would make their religion the sole form of worship in Scotland, The Crown, on the other hand, saw them as anarchic rebels who had to be subdued and punished for sedition. Otherwise, there would be no public order in the north, and worse, a separate and hostile state. There were, however, different degrees of belief among the Covenanters, from radicals who justified any form violence against the government forces, including assassinations of non-combatants. These include the crazed preacher, Habakkuk Mucklewrath(who still had a following, crazed or not), and a cold-blooded operative, John Burley, to more moderate members, regarded as backsliders and compromisers by the radicals. Scott apparently did accurate historical research, and while he employs fictional characters in his story, the details of strategies on both sides are authentic. Scott's novel begins in leisurely fashion by describing an old man, many years after the wars, who goes about the countryside cleaning and repairing deteriorating grave markers of Covenanters who were killed in the wars. He goes by the name of "Old Morality", and serves to remind the reader that without his efforts, and by symbolic extension, Scott's story, these religious warriors of the past and what they fought for would be forgotten. Scott moves his story along by following the chief character, Henry Morton of Milnwood, a moderate. He has some sympathy with the Covenanters in their fight for religious liberty but is appalled by the indiscriminate violence that is practiced. He reflects, though, "it is impossible to deny the praise of devoted courage in peasants, who without leaders, without money, without any fixed plan of action and almost without arms, borne out by their innate zeal and a detestation of their rulers, ventured to declare open war against the established government, supported by a regular army and the whole force of three kingdoms." After an initial stunning victory against over-confident soldiers, the king's reinforcements come from the south and the final outcome is inevitable - the rebels are viciously put down. Morton uneasily tries to straddle the conflict and does gain some respect from both sides But in the end, he goes into exile in Holland, and while at the end he does return and reunites with the woman he lives, I feel this is an obligatory happy ending convention and the less said about it, the better. . The real heart of the story is the struggle, one that Scott treats even-handedly. Again, Morton is at the center. At one point, he asks a rhetorical question of his guard that goes unanswered. "Is there a difference between the blood. . . of gallant soldiers and noble gentlemen, and the red puddle that stagnates in the veins of psalm-singing mechanics, crackbrained demagogues, and sullen boors - some distinction between spilling a flash of generous wine and dashing down a can full of base muddy ale?" OLD MORTALITY and its long-ago struggles still echo in today's world with the efforts to defeat ISIS, another fanatical religious l movement The difference is that ISIS has the technological firepower to inflict far more damage than did the 17th Covenanters. But for both, there was no compromise nor negotiation.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Jacob Aitken

    Sir Walter Scott. Old Mortality. New York: Oxford Press. This book isn’t as anti-Presbyterian as one might expect. He isn’t making fun of the Covenanters. Indeed, if internet Covenanters today are the standard to go by, Scott is quite gentle. As far as Scott’s novels go, this is acknowledged to be one of the better ones. The reason is quite simple: the story just flows better. Like the rest of Scott’s novels, it’s important to pay attention early on. If you get a good grasp on “who’s who,” his wri Sir Walter Scott. Old Mortality. New York: Oxford Press. This book isn’t as anti-Presbyterian as one might expect. He isn’t making fun of the Covenanters. Indeed, if internet Covenanters today are the standard to go by, Scott is quite gentle. As far as Scott’s novels go, this is acknowledged to be one of the better ones. The reason is quite simple: the story just flows better. Like the rest of Scott’s novels, it’s important to pay attention early on. If you get a good grasp on “who’s who,” his writing style is easy to follow. Protagonist: Henry Morton. Morton fights for liberty of conscience. That’s what drives him, even more than love. Love interest: Edith Bellenden. Lady Margaret’s granddaughter. Lady Margaret Bellenden: arch-royalist. She’s funny. Back in the day King Charles I visited her castle. She never fails to remind everyone of “that one day when his most sacred Majesty….” Her servants can usually see this coming so they have devised ways to head her off. Whigs vs. Tories Initial Problem In order to weaken the stricter Presbyterians, the law said that local communities had to train their militias on the Sabbath. Furthermore, each laird had to meet a quota. Our story starts at one such militia gathering. The “change” that happens to Henry Morton is perfectly captured. Scott notes, “Desperate himself, he determined to support the rights of his country, insulted in his person” (160). Many god-fearing citizens throughout history aren’t really fanatical. And this is a warning to the Deep State today: there is a limit beyond which we will not be pushed. Don’t go there. There is even more to Morton’s development. He finds himself on the opposite side of the war with his girlfriend. She can’t forgive his “treason,” yet he knows he simply can’t lay down his arms and come back to her. This is what Scott calls a new “Manly” moment in Morton’s life. Manly for Scott, and for the ancients, meant something like a firm resolve. Morton wants to be with his girlfriend, but other things have to change first. Scott doesn’t pull any punches. In some ways this is the best argument for the non-establishment of religion. The Covenanters are persecuted, and there is one tough scene of torture at the end of the book. However, Scott, through Morton, reminds us that if the roles were reversed, the Covenanters would not allow freedom of religion to the so-called prelatists. Henry Morton is a hero because he steers the middle course. Scott has created the problem perfectly. Morton can’t just abandon the Whigs and join his lover because that would also abandon his principles--and she knows it. I can usually anticipate how Scott will end a story, but this ending caught me completely off guard.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Perry Whitford

    Near the end of Old Mortality the hero of the story, Henry Morton, soldier and survivor of the Scottish sectarian skirmishes of the second half of the 18th century, gets all whimsical, musing: "Let the tide of the world wax or wane as it will...enough will be found to fill the places which chance renders vacant; and, in the usual occupations and amusements of life, human beings will succeed each other as leaves upon the same tree, with the same individual difference and the same general resemblan Near the end of Old Mortality the hero of the story, Henry Morton, soldier and survivor of the Scottish sectarian skirmishes of the second half of the 18th century, gets all whimsical, musing: "Let the tide of the world wax or wane as it will...enough will be found to fill the places which chance renders vacant; and, in the usual occupations and amusements of life, human beings will succeed each other as leaves upon the same tree, with the same individual difference and the same general resemblance." After reading half a dozen or so of Scott's Waverly novels over the last few years, that pretty much sums up the feeling I have for the series. So much is familiar here, the time and place, the historical backdrop, the stagy devices of the plot, all wrapped up in the gentle trappings of romanticism. But there is a certain dissimilitude too. The aforementioned Morton is not so passive as the titular Waverley from the first novel, or Frank Osbaldistone from Rob Roy, while the romanticism is tempered and offset at times by a welcome realism. Scott is particularly unstinting (by his standards) in his portrayal of the unconscionable behaviour of religious fanatics at war. The historical characters who inhabit the tale, men from a time of bloody recrimination in Scottish history, are suitably brutalised by their behaviour. Claverhouse and John Balfour of Burley, the foes at sword's edge, still have the sheen of romanticism surrounding them, but their ruthlessness is also evident. The preachers in particular are appalling in their hatefulness, breathing fire and brimstone, trading rhetorical warfare with quotations from scripture. Their excesses are rightly lamented or scorned by the sympathetic characters. A bloodier, grittier Waverley classic.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Arlomisty

    Excellent book! This is a little known Sir Walter Scott book, but it's packed full of adventure, romance, and battles... this takes place in the mid to late 1600's in the Scottish Highlands. Our hero Henry Morton finds himself is a series of events that put him into the middle of a national rebellion between Scotland and England... he's taken prisoner and condemned to die by hanging when during transportation (with several other prisoners)the detachment of troops that he is with are drawn into a Excellent book! This is a little known Sir Walter Scott book, but it's packed full of adventure, romance, and battles... this takes place in the mid to late 1600's in the Scottish Highlands. Our hero Henry Morton finds himself is a series of events that put him into the middle of a national rebellion between Scotland and England... he's taken prisoner and condemned to die by hanging when during transportation (with several other prisoners)the detachment of troops that he is with are drawn into a battle and are routed... Morton escapes and that begins his adventures in the Highlands! I recommend this book to anyone... a classic indeed! (I don't know why this has never been made into a movie... it would make a great one!)

  13. 4 out of 5

    Katherine Holmes

    I love Sir Walter Scott's novels and read him every four years or so. So I tried Old Mortality. I thought I wouldn't get through this one. One thing about his novels is the dialect writing - diffcult to read sometimes. This novel was full of it at the beginning but that's because of the conflict between the aristocrats and the peasants in Scotland. As I went with the appealing main character, I found the rendition of this religious conflict to parallel the Revolutionary War. It seemed very simil I love Sir Walter Scott's novels and read him every four years or so. So I tried Old Mortality. I thought I wouldn't get through this one. One thing about his novels is the dialect writing - diffcult to read sometimes. This novel was full of it at the beginning but that's because of the conflict between the aristocrats and the peasants in Scotland. As I went with the appealing main character, I found the rendition of this religious conflict to parallel the Revolutionary War. It seemed very similar to me and I hadn't known about this war in Scotland. Caught up, I read to the end. He's such a great historical author.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Cambusken

    Brilliant narrative filled with tumultuous action and vivid detail, accompanied by sly comment and humour. I doubt if many people share (or ever shared) Scott's wistful longing after a time of noble families and faithful servants (the evidence of this book is, he didn't manage to convince himself). This vision does not intrude much, in fact is part of the period detail. His sympathetic insight into vastly different, complex people, and complex situations, must surely be unique. Certainly accompa Brilliant narrative filled with tumultuous action and vivid detail, accompanied by sly comment and humour. I doubt if many people share (or ever shared) Scott's wistful longing after a time of noble families and faithful servants (the evidence of this book is, he didn't manage to convince himself). This vision does not intrude much, in fact is part of the period detail. His sympathetic insight into vastly different, complex people, and complex situations, must surely be unique. Certainly accompanies by such easy narrative and vivid style. One of the greats.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Mbilmey

    As per usual, this book is misnamed and rather deserves the name Balfour of Burley more than Rob Roy deserves its name. I was surprised at how much straight-up action there was in this book. Scott usually does a lot more meandering, but I got through this book decently quickly because it was pretty fast paced. It might make a decent reference for battle writing. It was pretty fun, and I was wrapped up in the successes of Cuddie and Morton. I enjoyed the history. It bridged a gap in my knowledge As per usual, this book is misnamed and rather deserves the name Balfour of Burley more than Rob Roy deserves its name. I was surprised at how much straight-up action there was in this book. Scott usually does a lot more meandering, but I got through this book decently quickly because it was pretty fast paced. It might make a decent reference for battle writing. It was pretty fun, and I was wrapped up in the successes of Cuddie and Morton. I enjoyed the history. It bridged a gap in my knowledge from the English Civil War to the Revolution. The philosophizing from different parties was also fun and an interesting look into the complexity of humanity. It also just confirmed how much of a Sir Walter Scott MC I basically am... Anyway, my issues with it are primarily a lack of characterization. Morton has some, but also feels a bit vague. For some reason, Scott does a much better job with that in his first-person novels. Also, I agreed with the mantua maker in the end that the ending wasn't the most satisfactory. It was a bit easy, though clearly planned from the start. I needed more Edith and Morten. We barely got any of their interactions (though maybe more than Rowena and Ivanhoe). A better ending might have made this my favorite. (I kind of adored Evandale and was a bit annoyed with his ending as well). Anyway, this was engaging, but Rob Roy persists as my favorite in spite of its lack of action.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Richard Rogers

    This book is an education. I don't get it all--war between presbyterians and episcopalians? I had no idea--but I understand so much Scottish history so much more now. And it works as a romance with a principled hero trying to win the sweet heroine who everyone wants to marry off to someone else. Young Morton is a man of ability though he is untried and doesn't really know what he believes or what's worth fighting for. However, he is a man of strong principles, which lead him into a revolution that This book is an education. I don't get it all--war between presbyterians and episcopalians? I had no idea--but I understand so much Scottish history so much more now. And it works as a romance with a principled hero trying to win the sweet heroine who everyone wants to marry off to someone else. Young Morton is a man of ability though he is untried and doesn't really know what he believes or what's worth fighting for. However, he is a man of strong principles, which lead him into a revolution that no one would have expected him to take part in. Partly, he's carried along by events he can't control, and partly he acts out of a sense of conscience. It's a fine line, but the author makes it work. The presbyterian rebels--rather uncompromising, puritan folk who believe the whole country should be run according to their idea of Biblical principles--are shown to be frequently extreme, but perhaps more in the right than the government which does not allow them to practice their religion. Morton fights against the government tyranny, but would be satisfied with a compromise--let people worship as they will. That compromising spirit puts him in a bad spot with the other rebels, who want a complete win, complete capitulation from the king (which they cannot get), and he becomes everybody's enemy. Which makes sense--he's trying to get two extremes to be moderate, and they don't wanna, either one. The author is a master of language in general, but I was a amazed at the way he captured the speech patterns of the radical preachers and their followers. He was mocking them (sort of), but the way he gives us long speeches with unrelated scriptural references stitched together in a jumble without any regard for the context they come from is brilliant and disturbing and really rings true, and he has pages and pages of it throughout the book. Just that aspect of the novel was tour de force stuff; Sir Walter Scott puts those of us with average or (as one hopes) somewhat better than average knowledge of such things to absolute shame. As always, the novel is filled with memorable characters. Burley, Morton's friend and eventual enemy, is impressive and crazy and unrelenting; Cuddie, a servant, is one of those characters who everyone thinks is dumb but shows the most sense; Major Bellenden is cool, one of those old soldiers who may no longer be able to fight but still knows more than everybody around him and shows them the ropes; Jenny, another servant, knows how to get stuff done without anyone finding out; and there are so many more. One character, old Lady Margaret, is a bit foolish and a little honorable, and she presents like a Dickens character--every time she gets a chance, she works into the conversation the time the king had breakfast at her home, and everybody tries to cut her off. It's a good bit. The pacing is a little slow compared to some other Scott novels, which is why I didn't give it all the stars, but it's still a good adventure and an excellent history and a pleasure to read. And, as always, it should be read from an old hardcover; Project Gutenberg is good and all, but no way should this be read on an iPad. You know, unless you wanna, of course. I'm just giving ideas. :) Recommended for Scott fans.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Monty Milne

    After the rather disappointing Black Dwarf, Scott returns to form in this excellent historical novel about the rebellious seventeenth century Covenanters. Lots of exciting incident, a profusion of fascinating characters of all sorts and conditions, a conflicted hero caught in the middle (who changes sides at least twice), and a love story which it seems impossible to resolve happily but which (of course) ends in triumph (eventually). Although this book had a very positive critical reception when After the rather disappointing Black Dwarf, Scott returns to form in this excellent historical novel about the rebellious seventeenth century Covenanters. Lots of exciting incident, a profusion of fascinating characters of all sorts and conditions, a conflicted hero caught in the middle (who changes sides at least twice), and a love story which it seems impossible to resolve happily but which (of course) ends in triumph (eventually). Although this book had a very positive critical reception when it came out, with many reviewers thinking it Scott’s best so far (I agree), one dour and miserable old Presbyterian minister penned a very lengthy condemnation on the grounds that Scott erred by making the Covenanters too dour and miserable. I disagree. They were indeed a bunch of murdering fanatics, morose, pitiless, argumentative, and wrong. Who can forget Scott’s creation the wonderfully named preacher Habbakuk Mucklewrath, screaming that no prisoners should be taken, and quoting the Old Testament to urge his co-religionists on to murder women and children? Religious fanatics, then or now, have never needed much persuasion to commit horrible crimes. The bloodthirsty fanaticism of (many of) the Covenanters is a matter of historical record. By temperament and conviction I am a Cavalier but Scott doesn’t spare the other side either, giving a balanced portrayal of the ugly persecution and injustice that the royal soldiery inflicted on the Covenanters. And of course the portrayal of Graham of Claverhouse – one of my heroes – is hardly sympathetic. He is, in his own way, shown to be just as merciless and fanatical as his enemies. Scott’s genius, of course, is to let us glimpse into the minds and motivations of those from all sides, so that even if we can’t approve, we still get at least a glimmer of understanding for why they think and act the way they do. Both sides in this conflict committed terrible war crimes from the very start (when the Covenanters drag the poor old Archbishop of St Andrews out of his carriage and stab him to death). Scott is even handed in his portrayal of the atrocities committed by both sides. The battle scenes are much more realistic – and more graphic – than anything in Scott’s previous novels. At the beginning of the Napoleonic wars Scott loved dressing up in his militia uniform and galloping about playing at soldiers, but by the time he wrote this he had viewed the battlefield at Waterloo. This cured him for ever of any notion that war was romantic, and it shows. If this can make the novel rather sombre at times, there are still plenty of lighter hearted moments provided by some of the amusing minor characters. And, of course, there is always a satisfying pleasure in seeing how Scott contrives to overcome all obstacles to get to the happy ending where love, virtue, moderation and perseverance finally get their just reward.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Brent Hightower

    The impression many readers have of Walter Scott is that he is a dull writer; and it's true that his prose seems at first unapproachable for those used to twentieth and post-twentieth-century fiction. That is why I would recommend Old Mortality as an introduction for any reader unfamiliar with his work. It is a flat-out barn burning adventure story, really thrilling to read, and as is much of Scott's work also a vivid window into history - the history in this case fascinating for both its foreig The impression many readers have of Walter Scott is that he is a dull writer; and it's true that his prose seems at first unapproachable for those used to twentieth and post-twentieth-century fiction. That is why I would recommend Old Mortality as an introduction for any reader unfamiliar with his work. It is a flat-out barn burning adventure story, really thrilling to read, and as is much of Scott's work also a vivid window into history - the history in this case fascinating for both its foreignness from our times (far greater than one might suppose reading a book about such a relatively recent era in Scotland), and also for its stark, even frightening, similarity to our times. It is set in the late seventeenth-century, in a nation still in the throes of a decaying feudal system, beset by religious warfare and corresponding conflict between the impulses of modernity and reaction; and this feeling of both closeness and contrast to modern times holds one of the book's fascinations. The setting is also memorable, and finely drawn. What better could there be than this brooding landscape of castles and mists - rugged coastlines and crags - carved everywhere by flowing water? Something about that land seems to endow all human action with an epic grandeur, and the undoubtedly epic action of the book is enhanced by this backdrop, and finally by another of Scott's great strengths - the brilliance of his characters. Every character in this novel rings true, but particularly the mad, indomitable, religious-zealot at the center of the action. He is a man one cannot like (or at least I cannot!) but whom I found fascinating, and came to have a grudging admiration for, if only in the manner one admires a force of nature. And finally, Scott was a master of the structural architecture of the novel. This intense, complexly interwoven story of a love torn apart by differing visions of life is rendered seamlessly and with vividly clarity, so that in the end one feels they have not only read a ripping adventure story, but seen a brilliant picture of a remote world, vivid enough to afford a new perspective on our own.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Geraldine

    A Timely Read Like most of Scott's novels, `Old Mortality' (1816) is rather difficult to get into but by the third chapter I was finding it a gripping and timely read. The story is set in late 17th century Scotland. Some people think of Scott as promoting a fanciful and sentimental view of Scottish history but in this novel he depicts a nation deeply divided along religious, cultural and political lines. Some of these divisions still exist. The story centres on a young man called Henry Morton who A Timely Read Like most of Scott's novels, `Old Mortality' (1816) is rather difficult to get into but by the third chapter I was finding it a gripping and timely read. The story is set in late 17th century Scotland. Some people think of Scott as promoting a fanciful and sentimental view of Scottish history but in this novel he depicts a nation deeply divided along religious, cultural and political lines. Some of these divisions still exist. The story centres on a young man called Henry Morton who is accidentally caught up in a Civil War between the puritanical Covenanters, who (to simplify a complex matter) only acknowledge the independent Scottish Kirk and the Loyalists who worship in an episcopal church approved by the Stuart monarchs reigning from England. After being cruelly persecuted for their beliefs by the Loyalist commander known as `Bloody Claverhouse', the Covenanters strike back in force but divisions among their leaders hamper their military campaign. Moderate Morton feels compelled to fight for freedom of worship but is appalled by some of the acts of the Covenanters such as the brutal murder of Scotland's Archbishop. The novel is remarkably even-handed and keeps the reader's sympathies swinging between the Loyalists and Covenanters. Scott describes atrocities committed by both sides but also extraordinary acts of courage. There are outstanding portraits of two opposing leaders - Claverhouse, a cultured man who has become desensitized to extreme violence, and Burley, a Covenanter whose fanatical beliefs gradually turn him into a monster. The extreme Puritans among the Covenanter soldiers seem very similar to the modern Taliban. To my taste, the Loyalist heroine of this novel is annoyingly drippy but this is made up for by some vivid portraits of working women who express themselves in wonderfully vigorous language. Lowland Scots has to be the best dialect for insulting people in. If you've never tried a novel by Sir Walter Scott, `Old Mortality' would be a good place to start.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Charlene

    I am just starting this one. I have this set of Sir Walter Scott, Waverly Novels, Soho Edition printed in 1903...and if I have them on my shelf, they deserve to be read. On this one, so far so good. In the Intro, the name of the book is clarified...Old Mortality is an old man who left his life behind and has been traveling the rural moors of Scotland cleaning up grave markers from people who died for their faith. The narrator of the story actually meets the old man when he is twenty years into h I am just starting this one. I have this set of Sir Walter Scott, Waverly Novels, Soho Edition printed in 1903...and if I have them on my shelf, they deserve to be read. On this one, so far so good. In the Intro, the name of the book is clarified...Old Mortality is an old man who left his life behind and has been traveling the rural moors of Scotland cleaning up grave markers from people who died for their faith. The narrator of the story actually meets the old man when he is twenty years into his travels, and goes back to the beginning of the conflicts that caused the people to defend their faith in the first place, before they died...And that is where I am at right now. It is not as hard a read as Charles Dickens' "Old Curiousity Shop", but it does take longer for me than contemporary novels because of the English/Scottish slang, but I like the challenge! ---------------------------------- OK UPDATE.... I finally finished it and although it was a good story, I felt the ending could have come together better. AND never in my life have I ever had to use scissors to split pages that were not cut when it was printed! I am pretty sure that I am the only one who has ever read this book in my possession for all of its 103 years!

  21. 5 out of 5

    Richard Seltzer

    Read for the second time.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Robert Hepple

    First published in 1816, 'Old Mortality' is a historic novel set against the background of the Scottish Covenanter Rebellion of 1679. For Scott, the plot is surprisingly fast moving, and involves many historic characters of the time. Due to its wartime setting, the story features a fair bit of action, and the violence is at time surprisingly explicit by 19th century fiction standards. Of course, this is a Walter Scott novel and the fine historic background is often subsidiary to the romance elem First published in 1816, 'Old Mortality' is a historic novel set against the background of the Scottish Covenanter Rebellion of 1679. For Scott, the plot is surprisingly fast moving, and involves many historic characters of the time. Due to its wartime setting, the story features a fair bit of action, and the violence is at time surprisingly explicit by 19th century fiction standards. Of course, this is a Walter Scott novel and the fine historic background is often subsidiary to the romance element. An excellent read.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Curt

    Old Mortality relates the politics, heroes and events during the late 17th century centering on the Battle of Bothwell Bridge. James Graham of Claverhouse appears to be a complex character with more religious tolerance than those around him. The fanaticism of supporting characters made political progress a bit cumbersome. Killiecrankie is one of my favorite tunes and the Blair Atholl is very scenic and worth a visit. Scott painted a vivid portrait of the historical characters and events. I highl Old Mortality relates the politics, heroes and events during the late 17th century centering on the Battle of Bothwell Bridge. James Graham of Claverhouse appears to be a complex character with more religious tolerance than those around him. The fanaticism of supporting characters made political progress a bit cumbersome. Killiecrankie is one of my favorite tunes and the Blair Atholl is very scenic and worth a visit. Scott painted a vivid portrait of the historical characters and events. I highly recommend this book as one of Scott's best.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Tamara Zann

    I enjoyed this much more than I had any expectation I would. It took me about 50 pages to get into the story. Until then it was all names and places and I had no idea who was who and where and why. It's a heart warming story as well as a tragedy. By the end I was crying but I am not sure if it was for happiness or from pain. I enjoyed this much more than I had any expectation I would. It took me about 50 pages to get into the story. Until then it was all names and places and I had no idea who was who and where and why. It's a heart warming story as well as a tragedy. By the end I was crying but I am not sure if it was for happiness or from pain.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Craig Zeichner

    Interesting view of history, but many characters are basically stock figures. The many passages in dense Scots dialect were sometimes difficult to navigate. However, I found this is a truly interesting read and something of a page-turner. I am now inspired to dig a bit deeper into the events Scott depicts as well as exploring more Scott.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Gary Lawrie

    Shamed to say I had never read Scott before but picked it up in a second hand bookshop. Once I got used to his style I really enjoyed the story. It was easy to follow and a period of Scottish history I had read little about. The characters and story were easy to follow and will certainly try more Sir Walter Scott in the future.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Susan

    Brutal history and local dialect throughout made this a wee challenge of a read. But Scott is a rich and rewarding teller of tales and I look forward to reading more of his Waverley Novels.

  28. 5 out of 5

    John Yelverton

    "Ivanhoe" this was not as Walter Scott's disdain for the clergy shines through glaringly, and the ending was absolutely abysmal. "Ivanhoe" this was not as Walter Scott's disdain for the clergy shines through glaringly, and the ending was absolutely abysmal.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Ron

    Another title from a grad lit course. Between this tale and Waverly, got me reading Scott for a while.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Lee

    I found this book totally gripping - a fascinating story peopled with unusual and well drawn characters. Scott is a wonderful writer - he deserves to be read more widely.

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