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Count Robert of Paris by Sir Walter Scott, Fiction, Historical, Literary, Classics

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"The close observers of vegetable nature have remarked, that when a new graft is taken from an aged tree, it possesses indeed in exterior form the appearance of a youthful shoot, but has in fact attained to the same state of maturity, or even decay, which has been reached by the parent stem. Hence, it is said, arises the general decline and death that about the same season "The close observers of vegetable nature have remarked, that when a new graft is taken from an aged tree, it possesses indeed in exterior form the appearance of a youthful shoot, but has in fact attained to the same state of maturity, or even decay, which has been reached by the parent stem. Hence, it is said, arises the general decline and death that about the same season is often observed to spread itself through individual trees of some particular species, all of which, deriving their vital powers from the parent stock, are therefore incapable of protracting their existence longer than it does."


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"The close observers of vegetable nature have remarked, that when a new graft is taken from an aged tree, it possesses indeed in exterior form the appearance of a youthful shoot, but has in fact attained to the same state of maturity, or even decay, which has been reached by the parent stem. Hence, it is said, arises the general decline and death that about the same season "The close observers of vegetable nature have remarked, that when a new graft is taken from an aged tree, it possesses indeed in exterior form the appearance of a youthful shoot, but has in fact attained to the same state of maturity, or even decay, which has been reached by the parent stem. Hence, it is said, arises the general decline and death that about the same season is often observed to spread itself through individual trees of some particular species, all of which, deriving their vital powers from the parent stock, are therefore incapable of protracting their existence longer than it does."

30 review for Count Robert of Paris by Sir Walter Scott, Fiction, Historical, Literary, Classics

  1. 5 out of 5

    Suzannah

    My review of Walter Scott's second-last and often-denigrated First Crusade novel COUNT ROBERT OF PARIS is here! People, I know it's not one of his best, but this was SUPER FUN. Palace intrigue, lady knights, and a KILLER ORANGUTANG, I am not kidding. My review of Walter Scott's second-last and often-denigrated First Crusade novel COUNT ROBERT OF PARIS is here! People, I know it's not one of his best, but this was SUPER FUN. Palace intrigue, lady knights, and a KILLER ORANGUTANG, I am not kidding.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Perry Whitford

    Scott's penultimate novel opens up with a conceit which Gibbon would have been proud of, comparing the husbanded branches of a tree with cities which attempt to build their own fame on the glories of a previous model: 'when a new graft is taken from an aged tree, it possesses indeed in exterior form the appearance of a youthful shoot, but has in fact attained to the same state of maturity, or even decay, which has been reached by the parent stem.' So now you know exactly what the Scottish novelist Scott's penultimate novel opens up with a conceit which Gibbon would have been proud of, comparing the husbanded branches of a tree with cities which attempt to build their own fame on the glories of a previous model: 'when a new graft is taken from an aged tree, it possesses indeed in exterior form the appearance of a youthful shoot, but has in fact attained to the same state of maturity, or even decay, which has been reached by the parent stem.' So now you know exactly what the Scottish novelist thought about the Grecian empire centred on the city of Constantinople. Then he introduces us to one of our heroes, Hereward of Hampton, an Anglo-Saxon forced into leaving England who has become a Varangian (royal bodyguard) to Emperor Alexius Comnenus in Constantinople, just as the First Crusade kicks into gear. He soon crosses battle-axes and later forms an unlikely alliance with the eponymous hero Count Robert, a combustible Frankish knight whose wife, the Countess Brenhilde, also enjoys a good dust up. This is a Crusader story of East meets West, though the Muslim defenders have no part to play in it. The Greeks and the Franks are both Christian, but the similarities stop there. The Grecian court is deceitful and obsequious, the French knights honest and chivalric. Scott has some fun creating a 'lost' passage from Anna Comnenus's history the Alexiad, recited by the historian herself, with hyperbolic epithets in praise of her father and a characteristic misquote from Homer. Unfortunately as is often the case with Scott there were far too many long-winded conversations and not nearly enough action, exacerbated by a promising plot which never materialised. Full marks however for a scene in which a prison break was assisted by an orangutan! I also liked this withering summary of the Iliad by the Countess Brenhilde: 'I have heard of the celebrated siege of Troy, on which occasion a dastardly coward carried off the wife of a brave man, shunned every proffer of encounter with the husband whom he had wronged, and finally caused the death of his numerous brothers, the destruction of his native city, with all the wealth which it contained, and died himself the death of a pitiful poltroon, lamented only by his worthless leman, to show how well the rules of chivalry were understood by your predecessors." The Greek's defence? Paris was in fact a 'dissolute Asiatic', so there. Aside from a few such moments this was a real slog.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Keeley

    Andrew Lang, editor of the Waverley novels (and familiar to Powellians as the poet of "Theocritus!"), loses no time in the introduction assuring his reader that this is Walter Scott's worst novel. I've only read one of Scott's other novels (Ivanhoe of course), but Andrew Lang seems like a pretty astute judge in this case. When I first read Ivanhoe a decade ago, I remember feeling excited that there were still great adventure novels out there I hadn't devoured as a child. When I read Count Robert Andrew Lang, editor of the Waverley novels (and familiar to Powellians as the poet of "Theocritus!"), loses no time in the introduction assuring his reader that this is Walter Scott's worst novel. I've only read one of Scott's other novels (Ivanhoe of course), but Andrew Lang seems like a pretty astute judge in this case. When I first read Ivanhoe a decade ago, I remember feeling excited that there were still great adventure novels out there I hadn't devoured as a child. When I read Count Robert of Paris, it took all my efforts to keep slogging through. Here are some reasons not to bother reading this book: 1. The title character doesn't appear for the first 185 pages. In the first 185 pages, there's only one vaguely interesting character: Hereward. If the book had been titled "Hereward the Varangian" maybe I would have been less irritated? 2. Nothing really happens at all for the first 295 pages. Then Scott adds an orangutan. Clint Eastwood's filmography corroborates the fact that orangutans are harbingers of fail. 3. SPOILER ALERT! The orangutan randomly kills off the major antagonist for no particular reason in the space of a page (the 451st page, if you are wondering, of 582). The editor notes that this is "rather sudden and unexpected." 4. The editor also notes -- well, maybe this is a reason TO read Count Robert of Paris -- that the book contains "the last of all the admirable cold pasties which have been presented so generously to Scott's heroes and readers." 5. Scott seems to have a bee in his bonnet about women, especially Anna Comnena and her intellectual endeavors. His criticisms of her style might be more accurately levelled at Byzantine literature in general than at "authoresses." I don't remember him being so cranky about Rebecca and Rowena, though I may well have forgotten? 6. No one else has read this book, at least not at the University of Vermont library. Dozens of uncut pages. The last time I read a book with so many uncut pages was a handsome edition of Petrarch's Africa (sans English translation) in the Duke library. Sorry if this doesn't tell you much of anything substantive about the novel, but don't worry about it. Read something else instead, unless you are a Waverley completist.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Tracey

    I liked the historical period and place of this novel but compared to other works by Scott, this one did not measure up. There were some very unbelievable story lines and I felt the story got weighed down by notions of chivalry. Not sure if the knights/counts/crusaders really thought this way so more reading is needed. I would like to read The Alexiad by Anna Comnena because of reading this novel and that is a plus.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Steve R

    Like The Talisman, this novel is set during the Crusades in the Middle East. However, unlike that earlier novel in the Waverley series, this one is quite disjointed and unclear as to the real narrative story. In other words, I found it - the last one in my 36 volume set of these works -one of the weakest of all the novels in this series. The main character, Count Robert, doesn't even appear until roughly 275pp. into the 650pp. story. Then, his first action is to brazenly upstage the Emperor of Co Like The Talisman, this novel is set during the Crusades in the Middle East. However, unlike that earlier novel in the Waverley series, this one is quite disjointed and unclear as to the real narrative story. In other words, I found it - the last one in my 36 volume set of these works -one of the weakest of all the novels in this series. The main character, Count Robert, doesn't even appear until roughly 275pp. into the 650pp. story. Then, his first action is to brazenly upstage the Emperor of Constantinople, Alexius Comnenus. Such boorish behavior was hard to understand given his oft-mentioned fealty to the codes of chivalry and honor. The real hero of the story appears to be Hereward, a Varangian mercenary in the service of the eastern Emperor (referred to as 'Greeks' although they refer to themselves as 'Romans', having been descended from the Romans of antiquity after Constantine moved the seat of empire to the city which bears his name). Set at the time of the First Crusade, it is late in the eleventh century, just after the fall of England to the Normans in 1066. Hereward is an Anglo-Saxon who has been forced to flee his homeland and pursue his fortunes far from home. The Varangians are almost all Anglo-Saxon in their background, which distinguishes them from the Immortal Guardss, the main military force of the Emperor. As leader of the Varangians, the Greek Achilles is Hereward's mentor, and he introduces him to the royal family: Alexius, his historian-daughter Anna, wife Irene, and son-in-law, Nicephorus Briennius (also called 'Caesar'), Anna's husband. Attending this royal group is Agelastes, an elderly advisor, philosopher, and all round schemer. The manner in which Alexius chooses to respond to the Crusaders stated aim of traversing his kingdom in order to recapture Palestine from the Saracen Turks is quite interesting, as far as it goes. Partly, he will appear to cooperate fully and openly with them. Partly, he will endeavor to separate their forces, by giving them conflicting advice on the best routes to follow. Partly, he will deplete their numbers by providing them with tainted victuals and suspect wine. Partly, he will confront them in open military engagement. Thus proceeding on several fronts, he will hopefully not allow the Crusaders to impinge on his territory's sovereignty. Mention is made several times of the contrast between the noble virtues of the Latin Crusaders and the self-serving, scheming and intriguing natures of the Greeks. Within the Greek Empire, conspiracy runs rampant. At least three of the above mentioned characters have plans to achieve a major turnover in the existing power structure. Their success or failure in prosecuting their intentions makes for the barest of narrative threads which the novel succeeds in spinning, but it is all accomplished somewhat off-stage and off-hand. Some semi-exciting scenes occur in the dungeons beneath the Blacquernal, the royal palace, in which one character manages to stun a tiger with a stool only to encounter an Ourang Outang named Sylvan, who is referred to as the Man of the Forest. With my incredulity and wonderment already running high at this point, Hereward then runs into his true love - an Anglo-Saxon girl to whom he'd been betrothed back in England - and whom he hasn't seen since leaving his native isle. They also meet Ursel, a blind prisoner who was once a major opponent of Alexius. His rehabilitation plays a key role in the unfolding of the conspiracy. The upshot of the conspiracy is played out in just as confusing a manner. A hug from Sylvan has a significant consequence for one of the conspirators, while the wife of another turns this way and that in reaction to her husband's perfidy. A supposed contest between Robert and Nicopherus draws a detachment of Crusaders back into the kingdom (believe it or not, they ride their horses backward in order to do this, since they'd vowed never to turn their back until they reached Palestine!) An actual battle-axe on battle-axe competition is stopped by a frantic voice from the crowd. Supposed rivals become allies, separated couples are reunited and a marriage is part of a series of actions which allow one of the main characters to grant the sincerest wish of another. Then, 15 of the final 20 pp. is devoted to two minor characters considering their options given the outcome of the planned conspiracy. Overall, very poorly organized by Scott, whom I have admired as a master of plot construction. His characterizations also seemed pale compared to those of other novels in the series. Published in the year Scott died, there is a preface seemingly indicating a lack of proper editing of the work. It was the second last novel he completed, and seems to have been one that, sadly, indicates his diminishing power as a novelist.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Georges Alexandre

    Among the least popular of Scott's novels and the penultimate in the Waverley novels. An enjoyable read that takes us back to the first crusade and the clash between two very different cultures, the very old sophisticated but decadent Byzantine Empire with its plots and power struggles and Greek inheritance vs the French crusaders that are borderline brutish fanatics but aspire to higher ideals and are infused with chivalry and courage. At the centre, an Anglo Saxon hero of the famed Varangian g Among the least popular of Scott's novels and the penultimate in the Waverley novels. An enjoyable read that takes us back to the first crusade and the clash between two very different cultures, the very old sophisticated but decadent Byzantine Empire with its plots and power struggles and Greek inheritance vs the French crusaders that are borderline brutish fanatics but aspire to higher ideals and are infused with chivalry and courage. At the centre, an Anglo Saxon hero of the famed Varangian guard that bridges those two Worlds somehow. The plot if somehow predictable is agreeable and fluid with small twists and surprises. It is unravelling through long dialogues, which actually makes the book perfect for a motion picture (even though there was only one attempt in Russia). The dialogues can be a bit long and are very pompous in Walter Scott's style. The construction is solid showing Scott's maturity and personally I did not find the descriptions superfluous as through them one discovers the two aforementioned worlds and they are actually setting the stage. The one thing I found personally very annoying, is the lack of historical accuracy, as the characters depicted represent other historical figures altogether. Therefore Robert of Paris is inspired by Robert Guiscard who never made it to the crusades and belongs to another generation and his wife Brenhilda is inspired by the historical character of Sikelgaita who incidentally is Robert Guiscard's second spouse. The short appearance of Bohemond of Antioch and Godfrey de Bouillon and their link to the main characters makes it more historically erratic for someone who knows the history of the period and had me confused as to the plot, though it's not detrimental to the fiction itself. All in all, it is well written and it's nice to see a change in scenery in Scott's work.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Anna

    The year is 1080. Alexius, emperor of Constantinople, has to deal with unruly crusaders crossing his land and treachery from his own inner circle. One of the crusaders is the impetuous Count Robert, who travels with his Amazonian wife, Brenhilda, and her servant, Bertha, long lost love of Hereward, a loyal Varangian guard. When Robert and Brenhilda are kidnapped as part of local political intrigues, Robert and Hereward, natural enemies, are thrown together. So much happens in this novel that it i The year is 1080. Alexius, emperor of Constantinople, has to deal with unruly crusaders crossing his land and treachery from his own inner circle. One of the crusaders is the impetuous Count Robert, who travels with his Amazonian wife, Brenhilda, and her servant, Bertha, long lost love of Hereward, a loyal Varangian guard. When Robert and Brenhilda are kidnapped as part of local political intrigues, Robert and Hereward, natural enemies, are thrown together. So much happens in this novel that it is hard to encapsulate it. The real life biographer, Anna Comnena, walks alongside an almost-human orang-utan, who kills or saves people depending on the circumstances, a mechanical lion, a real tiger, horses being ridden backwards, an evil philosopher, a resurrected political opponent and lots and lots of really attractive people. This novel is one of the last things written by Sir Walter Scott. The dense prose and unpalatable presentation of gender and race may make it difficult for a modern reader to approach, but it is a rewarding read for those who stick with it.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Katie

    Pretty good In my opinion, this is not Scott's best work. There are some fun aspects of the story and the characters, but it's not quite as good as some of his other novels. It definitely has a different feel to it than most of his books, and the subject matter and setting ate certainly a departure from so many of his adventures set in the Scottish highlands. Pretty good In my opinion, this is not Scott's best work. There are some fun aspects of the story and the characters, but it's not quite as good as some of his other novels. It definitely has a different feel to it than most of his books, and the subject matter and setting ate certainly a departure from so many of his adventures set in the Scottish highlands.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Rosemarie

    This story had a lot of action and an exotic locale (Constantinople) but also had an overly ornate plot and thinly developed characters. This made it a fun read, but not a book to read again.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Suzanne

    3.5 stars.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Lauren Little

    This was the best of the Tales of My Landlord series (not counting the last one, which I haven't read yet). It probably helped that it didn't take place in Scotland. The story was good, and I really enjoyed reading it. This was the best of the Tales of My Landlord series (not counting the last one, which I haven't read yet). It probably helped that it didn't take place in Scotland. The story was good, and I really enjoyed reading it.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Lucy

    It might only have had 3 or even 2 stars if not for the orang-utang. He is the star of the book. Though the tiger was pretty fierce, too. What do you mean, you thought this was a historical novel about the Crusades?

  13. 4 out of 5

    Lori Goshert

    It was a very entertaining story. I took off one star for plot holes, particularly timeline continuity/age issues, which are a pet peeve of mine.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Gayle Byrne

  15. 5 out of 5

    Tabitha Ormiston-Smith

  16. 5 out of 5

    Vladimir

  17. 4 out of 5

    LeRoy E. Ostrus

  18. 5 out of 5

    Johnlrice

  19. 5 out of 5

    Peter

  20. 5 out of 5

    Diane

  21. 4 out of 5

    Richard Seltzer

  22. 5 out of 5

    Me

  23. 4 out of 5

    Mick Scheinin

  24. 5 out of 5

    Amanda

  25. 5 out of 5

    Jvanvelsor

  26. 5 out of 5

    Margaux Chase

  27. 4 out of 5

    Elisabeth

  28. 4 out of 5

    Ilidio Silva

  29. 5 out of 5

    Nika Khoperia

  30. 4 out of 5

    Dad Wieja

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