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The Fortunes of Nigel

By: Sir Walter Scott

During the turbulent moment in English history involving King James 1 and 6, Nigel Olifaunt, a Scottish lord, seeks to protect his family home and holdings, but meets with recalcitrance and treachery, which eventually results in his imprisonment. But there are forces of good that help to set him free and right injustices.

This novel tells the story of Nigel Oliphaunt, Lord Glenvarloch, a young nobleman just returned from studies on the continent. He who must seek favor of the new king to repay money owed his father so that he can reclaim his ancestral properties in Scotland. Nigel becomes involved in this task with a vast panoply of characters, which shows Scott's real imaginative genius at its finest. David Ramsay is horologist (watchmaker) to the Crown. He has a lovely daughter, Margaret, who becomes enamored of the young Scottish lord. One of his apprentices, Jenkin Vincent (Jin Vin), is smitten with Margaret, who gets him to act quite outside his comfort zone in her attempts to help Nigel. There is a goldsmith, George ('Jingles') Heriot, who helps Nigel gain an audience with King James. A ghost-like woman lives at Heriot's house: the lady Hermoine, whose sad story is only related well into the novel, but whose changing fortunes help bring about the final resolution of Nigel's issues. Lord Huntingdon helps get James to grant Nigel's request, but it is his son, Lord Delgarno, whose actions make Nigel's fortunes change rapidly. Minor characters abound: Sir Mungo Malagrowther, whose acerbic character has caused him to lose three fingers in a duel (which makes his insults of others impossible to seek a similar process of satisfaction); a servant with pretensions to a higher status, Richie Moniplies, who aids Nigel in recovering the mortgage on his lands while taking full advantage of his encounter with a very rich young woman of Nigel's acquaintance; Reginald Lowestoffe, a Templar who helps Nigel when he is pursued by the authorities to seek refuge in Whitefriars; a usurer, Trapbois, who houses Nigel at this time and on whose behalf Nigel attempts to intercede when he is attacked by robber/murderers; Martha, his daughter, who eventually meets Moniplies; Lady Saddlechop, the wife of a barber who gives advice to Margaret Ramsay; Lady Nelly, the wife of a ship chandler/innkeeper who runs away with her lover and causes her husband to falsely accuse Nigel of this deed; and Captain Colepepper, a ruthless cutthroat. Quick-paced, inventive, often quite humorous, the novel comes to a generally satisfying if somewhat sudden conclusion with those ill-intentioned getting just what they deserve while those of more noble sentiment are duly rewarded.

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Sir Walter Scott, 1st Baronet was a Scottish historical novelist, poet, playwright, and historian. Many of his works remain classics of both English-language literature and Scottish literature. F...

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