Friday, January 16, 2015

Rob Roy

I should be working, or cooking supper, or possibly writing the other blog post I was planning to write, but instead I'm going to write about Rob Roy.

When I read a tale of adventure about a noble bandit and political intrigue, I'm willing to accept the ordinary guy as protagonist who gets swept up into events beyond him.

I'm not really expecting him to then stand there the entire time with his hands in his pockets.

Also, what kind of a name is Osbaldistone?

I can't say I disliked Frank Osbaldistone. He seems a perfectly decent chap. Who goes on being a perfectly decent chap while he gets falsely accused of armed robbery and his cousin steals his father's money. Between the love interest and the outlaw and some complicated political machinations, it all gets returned and everything comes out OK. But other than riding about some exquisite Scottish scenery, and one brief comic round of fisticuffs with some drunken Highlanders, Frank doesn't do a thing for himself.

The titular outlaw also was something of a disappointment. He doesn't even show up until the book is half over, and even then his role is somewhat ambiguous. He promises to help, but then is captured. He escapes. Meanwhile things are taken care of by other people. He comes to a dramatic rescue on almost the last page, but that's about it.

Fortunately the other characters were quite delightful: Diana Vernon, who manages to keep her outlawed father (NOT Rob Roy, someone else) hidden and her evil scheming cousin at bay, while excelling at horsemanship AND scholarship. (Why she marries the inoffensive Frank remains a mystery, except that being nurtured in a hotbed of Jacobite rebellion she wanted a quieter adult life, in which case I am sure she got what she was after, as she apparently always did.) Mrs. Rob Roy, apparently a competent general in her own right, if a bit blood-thirsty. Jarvie, the respectable Lowland merchant with secret Highland connections. Andrew Fairservice, the servant with a very strong sense of self-preservation. And the scenery is outstanding, and I don't usually even bother to read descriptions.

Still, it could have done with a livelier hero.


Brandy Vencel said...

Oh, I completely agree with you about Frank!

Diary of an Autodidact said...

I never felt Rob Roy was one of Scott's better novels. For the reasons you mention. On the other hand, he wrote a good heroine, didn't he? When you consider the era in which he wrote, he was well ahead of the times. In comparison, Dickens was a huge step backwards, to the idea of the helpless and personality-free woman.

If you haven't already read them, I would highly recommend Ivanhoe (the Jewess Rebecca is another outstanding character, although the title character spends most of the book injured), Kenilworth (because Elizabeth I was a badass), and Heart of Midlothian (in which women are the key characters in the book.)

Wendy said...

That description made me laugh out loud, and I don't mean "lol," I mean, "I'm glad the tea wasn't closer to the keyboard!"

Queen of Carrots said...

I *think* I've already read most, if not all, of Ivanhoe, and if I skipped some I'm planning to do it with the big kids in a couple of years. But Kenilworth sounds promising; Elizabeth I is always awesome.