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Peveril of the Peak

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The ninth title in Scotts' Waverley novels,
the others being;

Waverley (1814),
Guy Mannering (1815),
The Antiquary (1816),
Rob Roy (1818),
Ivanhoe (1819),
Kenilworth (1821),
The Pirate (1822),
The Fortunes of Nigel (1822),
Peveril of the Peak (1822),
Quentin Durward (1823),
St. Ronan's Well (1824),
Redgauntlet (1824),
Tales of the Crusaders: The Betrothed and The Talisman (1825),
Woodstock (1826),
Chronicles of the Canongate: The Fair Maid of Perth (1828), and
Anne of Geierstein (1829).

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Sir Walter Scott's work Peveril of the Peak is truly a book for an experienced reader with lots of time on their hands. Though not Scott's best piece of work, this is literature on the grand scale. The many, many characters and the profusion of plots in this book bring Dickens to the mind of the reader. The last book read by England's Queen Victoria to Prince Albert on his deathbed, Peveril of the Peak is chalk-full of intrigue, especially in the last third of the book. It has some truly touching moments and it follows the adventures of the Peveril family and their neighbor, Ralph Bridgenorth. Through the Civil Wars of the middle 1600's, the neighbors are sometimes friends and sometimes enemies until the false Popish plot of 1678 seems to end good times for these households forever. But, hundreds of pages later, after enough plotting to confuse Sherlock Holmes, the book comes to a satisfying conclusion. Some characters are quite memorable, but others are not. Merry King Charles the Second has several appearances and characters range in type from the dignified Countess of Derby to the rascally, lusty Duke of Buckingham. One of the most memorable people in the huge cast of characters is the villain's daughter. She is a trained acrobat who is placed as a spy by her father in the household of the Countess of Derby. She expertly pretends to be mute in order to get information. At times, she is reminiscent of Rebecca from Ivanhoe. Scott's writing style here is often diluted, but he adapts the Englsh language with ease to match the many different types of characters and their ways of speaking. I found his writing to be more friendly to the mdern reader in Waverly. To summarise this book, I quote King Charles in the final scene. "Here is a plot without a drop of blood; and all the elements of a romance without its conclusion.''--Submitted by Robin Macduff

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