I loved it, it's amazing to think of what Scott created in writing methodology, the time overlapping is well done. Occasionally you wonder what happened to a character but eventually all loose ends are tied up. I agree though regarding Aethelstane's return from the dead was a little much and I think unnecessary to get him out of a fix the way Shakespeare used to bring them back to life. It is satisfying to have Aethelstane let the young people have each other.
The history lesson is great and leaves one thinking and looking for the actuality of the Plantagenet line. The story explains that the Normans from France were actively upgrading the culture that was predominant on the British Isles beforehand.
Ivanhoe has aligned himself with King Richard the Lion Hearted. Ironically Ivanhoe speaks possibly the fewest words of any of any character in the entire story; he is known far and wide for his actions.
The descriptions of Coningsburgh Castle are so enticing and unlike the 19th century reader I just pick up my IPhone and see it for my self, bridging both time and space from the comfort of my reading chair.
The amount of Jew bashing was a real an eye-opener; I think in terms of WWII but this hate thing has been going on forever! A substantial part of the book is devoted to Isaac and his daughter they are good characters too. Scott is only reporting on how things may have been for the Jews in the 1100's, during his time in England laws were changing with respect to discrimination.
With in-depth descriptions of the "Lists" and "tilting" all the while weaving the story between characters makes this a must read for those interested in the origins and functioning of chivalry.
I never understood how the Isles (being so small) could be so steadfast against change in one area and under constant change in another; the Scots and the Irish have maintained their uninterrupted blood lines far better than the southerners.
As I am buying exclusively Illustrated versions of the classics; I spent a lot of time on Ebay looking for the "best" illustrated version I could find; for me I think this is it. I love the Schoonover illustrations; they really help set the tone and "paint" the picture. They are old fashioned renderings, of an old fashioned story, about an old fashioned time.