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The Master of Ballantrae:: Robert Louis Stevenson (Novel, historical novel, Historical Fiction, Adventure fiction, Classics, Literature) [Annotated]

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Set in Scotland during the 1745 Jacobite Rebellion, in the exotic French Indies, and in the North American wilderness, the story has as its hero one of the most compelling yet horrifying studies of evil in nineteenth-century fiction—James Durie, Master of Ballantrae. The Master is about his infective influence—on his younger, less attractive brother Henry; on Henry's wife Set in Scotland during the 1745 Jacobite Rebellion, in the exotic French Indies, and in the North American wilderness, the story has as its hero one of the most compelling yet horrifying studies of evil in nineteenth-century fiction—James Durie, Master of Ballantrae. The Master is about his infective influence—on his younger, less attractive brother Henry; on Henry's wife Alison; and on those narrators whom Stevenson so skilfully employs to present their experiences of this charming, ruthless, and evil man.


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Set in Scotland during the 1745 Jacobite Rebellion, in the exotic French Indies, and in the North American wilderness, the story has as its hero one of the most compelling yet horrifying studies of evil in nineteenth-century fiction—James Durie, Master of Ballantrae. The Master is about his infective influence—on his younger, less attractive brother Henry; on Henry's wife Set in Scotland during the 1745 Jacobite Rebellion, in the exotic French Indies, and in the North American wilderness, the story has as its hero one of the most compelling yet horrifying studies of evil in nineteenth-century fiction—James Durie, Master of Ballantrae. The Master is about his infective influence—on his younger, less attractive brother Henry; on Henry's wife Alison; and on those narrators whom Stevenson so skilfully employs to present their experiences of this charming, ruthless, and evil man.

30 review for The Master of Ballantrae:: Robert Louis Stevenson (Novel, historical novel, Historical Fiction, Adventure fiction, Classics, Literature) [Annotated]

  1. 4 out of 5

    GoldGato

    Gosh, I love RLS. He was the man. Adventure, intrigue, travel, romance, gothic suspense...gosh I love RLS. He would have made a terrific screenwriter during cinema's golden age, all swash and buckle. This ripping yarn just doesn't let you leave. You may pretend you're working or gardening or conversing with others during your everyday boring life, but really, you're just thinking about the Brothers Durie. Which one is really good and which one is really evil? This specific edition is from 1968 (p Gosh, I love RLS. He was the man. Adventure, intrigue, travel, romance, gothic suspense...gosh I love RLS. He would have made a terrific screenwriter during cinema's golden age, all swash and buckle. This ripping yarn just doesn't let you leave. You may pretend you're working or gardening or conversing with others during your everyday boring life, but really, you're just thinking about the Brothers Durie. Which one is really good and which one is really evil? This specific edition is from 1968 (perfect year for Sean Connery and Oliver Reed to play the siblings) and is large type for those who need extra help. If you don't need the extra help for the eyes, it's kinda weird, but perfect really because this baby will knock about your bag and car and bus and will wind up very well-thumbed. I'd like a leather-bound edition, just so I can watch it sitting on my shelf. RLS! Two Duries in Durrisdeer One to stay and one to ride, An ill day for the groom And a worse day for the bride. Book Season = Winter (snow flurries and sword fights)

  2. 5 out of 5

    Issicratea

    I approached my rereading of The Master of Ballantrae with some trepidation. It was a book I adored when I was very young, and it’s always a risky business revisiting bookish old flames (like old flames of any kind.) I’m pleased to report that the novel stood up to revisitation quite triumphantly. I have a better knowledge of the literary context now, and I enjoyed picking up on the echoes of James Hogg’s The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner (use of invented documents and mem I approached my rereading of The Master of Ballantrae with some trepidation. It was a book I adored when I was very young, and it’s always a risky business revisiting bookish old flames (like old flames of any kind.) I’m pleased to report that the novel stood up to revisitation quite triumphantly. I have a better knowledge of the literary context now, and I enjoyed picking up on the echoes of James Hogg’s The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner (use of invented documents and memoirs as a narrative means; doomed pairing of contrasted brothers; theme of destiny vs free will; motifs of a night duel and an uncanny exhumation.) There are also echoes of Stevenson’s own Jekyll and Hyde, written three years earlier, to the extent that the two Durie brothers, the devilish, mercurial James and the stolid, brooding Henry can seem unhappily yoked parts of a single, conflicted whole (perhaps, in a Scott-like way, representative of Scotland’s divided identity: the novel is set in the aftermath of the ’45 uprising, in which James Durie fights and is initially thought lost.) The plot of the novel is highly melodramatic and exotic, in the spirit of romance. In addition to Ballantrae, on the south-west coast of Scotland, its settings include a primitive, traders’ New York, and the wilderness of the Adirondacks, where the dramatic last chapters of the novel take place (and where Stevenson first conceived of the novel, in a stay in an experimental tuberculosis sanatorium in 1887.) The characters include a highly “orientalised” Hindu retainer, Secundra Dass, and the novel finds time for a small but perfectly formed Caribbean pirate narrative, told in an inset narrative by the rollicking Irish soldier of fortune Chevalier Francis Burke. All this riot of color is kept expertly under control, throughout most of the novel, by the dry, methodical prose of the chief narrator, the steward Ephraim Mackellar, through whose unreliably partisan eyes we see most of the events of the novel. For long stretches, in between the action scenes, the novel is a kind of chamber piece, charting the changing relationships between a tight family knot of characters: the brothers, Henry and James (the Master of the title); their father, the old laird, unwitting cause of their rivalry through his favoritism; Allison Graeme, their cousin, who loves James and married Henry; and Mackellar himself. Although our attention is directed principally towards the depicted characters, the romantic, doomed Durie family, Mackellar himself is pivotal to the effect of the novel. Despite the prissy, old maidish elements in his characterization, he is far from lacking in passion, as his fierce devotion to the put-upon Henry Durie shows. Nor is he quite secure from the Master’s demonic seductions, however clearly he sees through his Byronic performances. One of the most interesting and destabilizing passages in the novel, set significantly on a ship heading across the Atlantic, sees our trusty narrator half-beginning to fall prey, despite himself, to the Master’s charms. After a long time of being consigned to the dusty dressing-up box of the “adventure novel,” I have a sense that Stevenson is now taken much more seriously by literary criticism, as a forerunner of modernism, or post-modernism. I think that’s right—although it doesn’t stop his novels from being immensely enjoyable on a straight, adventure-novel level, as my adolescent self can attest. I’ve also always loved Stevenson as a stylist. I came to this novel after Elizabeth Gaskell’s Wives and Daughters, with its placid, leisurely prose, and I found his terseness quite thrilling by contrast. Stevenson has the meta-narrator figure in his preface—the man who publishes the found manuscript of Mackellar—refuse to embellish the style, on the grounds that “there is nothing so noble as baldness.” It’s typical of Stevenson’s sprezzatura to frame a stylistic manifesto in such a nobly bald way.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Cphe

    Read this many many years ago but I enjoyed Master of Ballantrae so much more with this second reading. Robert Louis Stevenson could spin an entertaining tale. This novel has something for all readers. A sweeping tale of sibling rivalry, adventure, derring do, romance, greed and mystery. The story unfolds over many years and takes place in Scotland and the American wilderness. The classic tale of the brothers Durie, narrated through the eyes of their stalwart Steward Ephraim Mackellar. Read this a Read this many many years ago but I enjoyed Master of Ballantrae so much more with this second reading. Robert Louis Stevenson could spin an entertaining tale. This novel has something for all readers. A sweeping tale of sibling rivalry, adventure, derring do, romance, greed and mystery. The story unfolds over many years and takes place in Scotland and the American wilderness. The classic tale of the brothers Durie, narrated through the eyes of their stalwart Steward Ephraim Mackellar. Read this as the free edition without issues. Thoroughly entertained throughout. Time well spent.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    Free download available at [email protected] This book is being discussed by the 19th Century Literature Yahoo Group. This is the story of two brothers set during & after the Jacobite Rebellion of 1745, often referred to as "the Forty-five", in Scotland, India & America. An incident in the rebellion of 1746, by David Morier The narrator of this book is done by Mackellar, the loyal steward to the Durie of Durisdeer family, which consists of an old lord and this two sons - James, the Master of Ballantr Free download available at [email protected] This book is being discussed by the 19th Century Literature Yahoo Group. This is the story of two brothers set during & after the Jacobite Rebellion of 1745, often referred to as "the Forty-five", in Scotland, India & America. An incident in the rebellion of 1746, by David Morier The narrator of this book is done by Mackellar, the loyal steward to the Durie of Durisdeer family, which consists of an old lord and this two sons - James, the Master of Ballantrae, and Henry. Another relative, Miss Alison Graeme, also lives with the family. The two brothers have opposite trends: James supports Bonnie Prince Charlie and goes and fights for the Jacobites while Henry stays at home to keep favor of King George II. In this way, whichever side wins, the family’s estate will be preserved. Once the Rising fails, the Master is reported dead and Henry becomes the heir of the estate. Living without glory brings no happiness to the surviving brother. The End of the 'Forty Five' Rebellion - William Brasse Hole's original etching, "The End of the 'Forty Five' Rebellion" depicts the final chapter of the 1745 Highland Rebellion led by Prince Charles Edward and the retreat of his defeated troops. Fatigue, hunger and despair accompany the wounded troops. However, a turmoil in the story will happen once Coronel Francis Burke arrives bringing letters from the Master. In order to avoid spoilers, I will stop my review here. A movie was made based on this book: The Master of Ballantrae (1953), with Errol Flynn, Roger Livesey, Anthony Steel as well as three TV series: The Master of Ballantrae (1962– ); The Master of Ballantrae (1975– ); and The Master of Ballantrae (1984). For those interested in reading a biography about the author, there are at least two interesting books on this subject: Fanny Stevenson: A Romance of Destiny (1993) by Alexandra Lapierre and Under the Wide and Starry Sky (2013) by Nancy Horan, see my review here. However, it should be noticed that both books are fictionalized biographies. For a complete list of RLS's biographies, please visit the author's website. The Battle of Culloden in fiction: Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon. The Jacobite Trilogy by D.K. Broster. Waverley by Walter Scott. The Scottish Thistle by Cindy Vallar. Culloden by John Prebble.

  5. 4 out of 5

    GoldGato

    Christmas came early this year! A whole set of uncut Robert Louis Stevenson books. RLS! This is better than coffee ice cream, meat pies, and pecan rolls. Shazam! I have already reviewed the story itself here, so I will use this review for the actual physical book. As we increasingly turn to e-books in the current century, it is always a pleasure to hold a book which was made when printing presses were considered to be state-of-the-art and most folks couldn't even afford a book, let alone a set. Th Christmas came early this year! A whole set of uncut Robert Louis Stevenson books. RLS! This is better than coffee ice cream, meat pies, and pecan rolls. Shazam! I have already reviewed the story itself here, so I will use this review for the actual physical book. As we increasingly turn to e-books in the current century, it is always a pleasure to hold a book which was made when printing presses were considered to be state-of-the-art and most folks couldn't even afford a book, let alone a set. Those Scribner sons did a mighty fine job with this volume. Red cloth with gold lettering and the type of paper one doesn't see anymore. This is a well-brought-up book, the kind you can introduce to others with pride. Gorgeous. The previous owner(s) took good care of this baby, and I hope to continue the tradition. Book Season = Winter (it's a winter's tale)

  6. 4 out of 5

    mark monday

    I just watched the wonderful 50s adaptation of this, starring a debonair but slightly long in the tooth Errol Flynn. awesome action! awesome Technicolor! if the book is half as fun, I need to read it soon. so fast-paced and full of surprises. plus a new favorite character: the French pirate, an effete dandy and killer, with a badass scar on his face to provide a nice contrast to his stylish outfits... so dreamy. and now I'm wondering if Black Sails was renewed for a second season. I sure hope so I just watched the wonderful 50s adaptation of this, starring a debonair but slightly long in the tooth Errol Flynn. awesome action! awesome Technicolor! if the book is half as fun, I need to read it soon. so fast-paced and full of surprises. plus a new favorite character: the French pirate, an effete dandy and killer, with a badass scar on his face to provide a nice contrast to his stylish outfits... so dreamy. and now I'm wondering if Black Sails was renewed for a second season. I sure hope so.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Terry

    This story of two brothers and an enmity that destroys their family is a great tale. Somewhat gothic, a little swashbuckling, and definitely tragic this is my favourite tale by RLS so far. The plot is more or less straightforward, but Stevenson spices it up a bit by mixing in a few points of view, thus introducing varying levels of unreliability in the narrators. Our main tale teller is the somewhat school-marmish Ephraim Mackellar, the major domo and factotum of Henry Durie, younger (and less f This story of two brothers and an enmity that destroys their family is a great tale. Somewhat gothic, a little swashbuckling, and definitely tragic this is my favourite tale by RLS so far. The plot is more or less straightforward, but Stevenson spices it up a bit by mixing in a few points of view, thus introducing varying levels of unreliability in the narrators. Our main tale teller is the somewhat school-marmish Ephraim Mackellar, the major domo and factotum of Henry Durie, younger (and less favoured) son of the Lord of Durrisdeer in Scotland. The elder son, the charismatic and dissolute adventurer James (the titular ‘Master of Ballantrae’, or Mr. Bally as he is often later called) decides to spurn his father, brother, and fiancée in order to go off and fight for Bonnie Prince Charlie in the 1745 rebellion, leaving his younger brother to be the ‘loyalist’ son who manages the estate. As the rebellion crumbles and the elder son is presumed dead, the staid younger brother is left to inherit the title, and his elder brother’s fiancée, living forever in the shadow of his ‘heroic’ elder brother, and more or less spurned by his family and tenants with only the loyal Mackellar to act as ally and friend. Of course it turns out that tales of the elder Durie’s death were somewhat exaggerated and years later he walks into the midst of an already strained family like a ticking timebomb of resentment, scorn, and trouble. All seem to favour the dissipated elder son who plays the affable friend and hard done by hero in the presence of his father and former fiancée (now his sister-in-law), but acts as a merciless scourge to his brother when they are alone. Only Mackellar witnesses this double nature of the Master and it leaves the long-suffering, and somewhat dull-witted Henry at his wit’s end (not a great distance for him really). We learn about the Master’s somewhat dubious adventures with pirates through the writings of Colonel Francis Burke, a former compatriot of his during both the rebellion and their subsequent exile, which he sends to Mackellar long after the events of the book proper have ended and which become a part of the narrative he pieces together to commemorate the feud that defined his life and the fall of the family he served . The picture painted of the Master by the pens of both Mackellar and Burke is not exactly complimentary, but one cannot deny that the man has style, cunning, and a certain rash appeal for all of his many failings. Things come to a head for the brothers in a spectacular, and somewhat unexpected, event that leads to the Master once again disappearing and Henry somewhat regaining his place in the eyes of his family. The story continues with more twists and turns as the Master’s adventures off-stage are again given a shadowy outline by Burke’s pen and on his next return to the family estate he is subject to an unexpected maneuver by his brother and his family that leads them to the final stages of their fraternal enmity which are played out to their tragic end in the New World under the eyes of Mackellar. The plot was definitely entertaining, and well-told, but I think the characters are what made the book. Mackellar and the Master get center stage with the former, for all his dweebishness and watery puritan sensibilities, being an affable narrator probably most admirable not only for his loyalty to his master Henry, but for his surprising ability to appreciate the allure of the rakish Master of Ballantrae. Or perhaps he is just showing his own human weakness for the intriguing Byronic villain who seems equal parts Milton’s Satan and 18th century dandy. Admittedly the younger brother Henry doesn’t quite come up to these two characters, seeming little more than a foil to first his brother and then his own rash pride and self-satisfaction, but he plays his part of the story well. It may not have giants, or true love, but the story has almost everything else: fencing, fighting, (psychological) torture, revenge, monsters (of self-love), chases, escapes, and (apparent) miracles! Definitely a recommended read!

  8. 5 out of 5

    Leah

    Brotherly love? When Bonnie Prince Charlie arrives in Scotland in 1745 to reclaim the lost Stuart crown, the Durie family of Durrisdeer must decide where their loyalties lie. If they make the wrong choice, they could lose everything, but pick the winning side and their future is secure. The old Laird has two sons. Jamie, the eldest, known as the Master of Ballantrae, is attractive and popular but evil, while Henry, the younger, is dull but good. The family decides one son should join Charlie's re Brotherly love? When Bonnie Prince Charlie arrives in Scotland in 1745 to reclaim the lost Stuart crown, the Durie family of Durrisdeer must decide where their loyalties lie. If they make the wrong choice, they could lose everything, but pick the winning side and their future is secure. The old Laird has two sons. Jamie, the eldest, known as the Master of Ballantrae, is attractive and popular but evil, while Henry, the younger, is dull but good. The family decides one son should join Charlie's rebellion while the other should declare loyalty to the Hanoverian King George II, a kind of hedging of bets in which many noble families would indulge (so says Stevenson, and I have no reason to doubt him). By rights, as the younger, Henry should have joined the rising, but the Master thinks this is the more exciting option so claims it for himself. When the rising fails, word reaches Durrisdeer that Jamie died in battle. Henry gains the estate but is vilified by the townspeople for, as rumour has it, betraying his more popular brother, while his father and Alison, the woman he is to marry, make no secret that they loved Jamie best and mourn his loss extravagantly. So things are bad for Henry... but they're going to get worse when news arrives that Jamie didn't die after all... I freely admit I thought this was going to be a story about the Jacobite rebellion, but it isn't. The enmity between the brothers had begun before long before the rising, and although it is used to set up the conditions for further strife between them, in fact it's a minor strand in the book. This is actually a story of two opposing characters and their lifelong struggle against each other. It's told by Ephraim Mackellar, steward to the estate of Durrisdeer and loyal supporter of Henry, who was present for many of the main events and has gathered the rest of the story from witnesses and participants. It will involve duels, smugglers and plots, love and hate, loyalty and betrayal; it will take us aboard a pirate ship and all the way across the Atlantic to the little town of New York in the far away American colonies. And it will end with a terrifying journey through the wilds of (Native American) Indian country on a quest for treasure! It would be possible to read this, perhaps, as some kind of allegory for the Scotland of the time, divided in loyalty between the deposed Stuarts and the reigning Hanoverians, but I don't think that can be taken too far since neither brother seems actively to care who wins, nor to be loyal to anything or anybody very much, so long as they come out of it with their lands and position intact. The things that divide them are personal, not political. There's also a kind of variant on the Jekyll and Hyde theme going on – the two brothers opposite in everything, one tediously decent, the other excitingly bad. However as we get to know the brothers over the long years covered by the story, we see that the contrasts between them are not as glaring as they first appear. The same flaws and weaknesses run through all members of this doomed family (not a spoiler – we're told they're doomed from the very beginning) – they just show themselves in different ways. Poor Mackellar – while his loyalty to Henry never fails him, as time goes on he becomes a solitary and unregarded voice of reason in the middle of their feud, and grows to see that, to coin a phrase, there are faults on both sides. Stevenson always writes adventure brilliantly and there are some great action scenes in the book, many of them with more than an edge of creepiness and horror. But there's much more to this one than simply that. The characterisation is the important thing, of the brothers certainly as the central figures in this drama, but equally of the other players – the old Laird, Alison and not least, Mackellar himself. Stevenson does an excellent job of showing how the various experiences they undergo change each of them – some becoming stronger, better people, others giving way to weakness and cruelty. I admit none of them are particularly likeable, (though despite myself I developed a soft spot for poor, pompous, self-righteous Mackellar – he had a lot to contend with, poor man), but they're so well drawn that I was fully invested in their fates anyway. Each of the settings is done brilliantly, from the life of a middle-ranking Laird of this period to the growing settlements in the New World. The pirate episode is especially good, as is the later voyage to America – Stevenson always seems to excel once he gets his characters out on the ocean wave. There are dark deeds a-plenty and not a little gore, but there's also occasional humour to give a bit of light amidst the bleakness. There's a lot of foreshadowing of doom, and a couple of times Mackellar tells us in advance what's going to happen, but nevertheless the story held my interest throughout and the ending still managed to surprise and shock me. Though the adventure side means it could easily be enjoyed by older children, it seems to me this has rather more adult themes than Treasure Island or Kidnapped, in the sense that the good and evil debate is muddier and more complex, and rooted in the development of the characters rather than in the events – again, the comparison to Jekyll and Hyde would be closer. Oh, and there's very little Scottish dialect in it, so perfectly accessible to non-Scots readers. Another excellent one from Stevenson's hugely talented pen, fully deserving of its status as a classic, and highly recommended! www.fictionfanblog.wordpress.com

  9. 5 out of 5

    Wanda

    11 SEP 2014 -- lovely cover. Background info for the Rising of '45 -- http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jacobi... 13 SEP 2014 -- Jacob is Esau and Esau is Jacob. Interesting play on the Biblical story. 15 SEP 2014 -- this is definitely more than a boys' adventure tale. Except for the difficult (for me, at least) written brogue, I am enjoying this novel. Of course, I already do not like the Master one single bit. 16 SEP 2014 -- today, I discovered the new depths of evil the Master is capable of reachi 11 SEP 2014 -- lovely cover. Background info for the Rising of '45 -- http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jacobi... 13 SEP 2014 -- Jacob is Esau and Esau is Jacob. Interesting play on the Biblical story. 15 SEP 2014 -- this is definitely more than a boys' adventure tale. Except for the difficult (for me, at least) written brogue, I am enjoying this novel. Of course, I already do not like the Master one single bit. 16 SEP 2014 -- today, I discovered the new depths of evil the Master is capable of reaching. Argh! When will Henry stand up to his brother? 16 SEP 2014 -- Dagny commented that evil is fun! I agreed with this comment: Agreed, Dagny. But the Master is not Susan Lucci evil, he is Hanibal Lecter nasty-evil. (Oh! I am putting that in my review.) 16 SEP 2014 -- Well! It is about damn time. Henry has finally stood up to the Master - struck him right in the mouth. Made me laugh out loud. I have a feeling this is not going to end well for either man. 17 SEP 2014 - Lazarus! You know what? I am only 4 chapters from the end and I have no idea how I am going to get through this long day of work in order to resume reading after dinner tonight. 18 SEP 2014 -- I enjoyed The Master of Ballantrae tremendously. My review is pending. I do not want to give away spoilers.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Bob

    There are certain corners of the high-brow literary establishment - perhaps it's the London Review of Books? - where one is often reminded that R.L. Stevenson has a complex reputation; a bit more than a writer of boys' own adventure stories - perhaps Jules Verne merits the same treatment and is analogous. In any event, I picked this up on whim when I stumbled into Dumbo's P.S. Books, for the slightly silly reason that they didn't have anything I was really looking for but I like the people that w There are certain corners of the high-brow literary establishment - perhaps it's the London Review of Books? - where one is often reminded that R.L. Stevenson has a complex reputation; a bit more than a writer of boys' own adventure stories - perhaps Jules Verne merits the same treatment and is analogous. In any event, I picked this up on whim when I stumbled into Dumbo's P.S. Books, for the slightly silly reason that they didn't have anything I was really looking for but I like the people that work there and wanted to oblige them but not, on that particular occasion, to the tune of more than $2. My cheesy early 60s edition has a sort of romance cover illustration - manly man wielding sword (that looks like a fencing épée) in defense of peroxided bouffant woman, but one suspects that feuding Scots brothers in the 1750s (and the woman in question) didn't look much like that. The dark family psychology that dominates the book is rather grim and there's not really much swashbuckling going on but it's ultimately quite gripping. At one point the action switches to New York state (where people from Albany are confusingly referred to as Albanians) which has some historical interest. There's also a lot implicit on the Scots side about the conflicts with England of the time which I knew nothing about and still don't - some day!

  11. 4 out of 5

    Bettie

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. (view spoiler)[ Bettie's Books (hide spoiler)] (view spoiler)[ Bettie's Books (hide spoiler)]

  12. 4 out of 5

    Moonkiszt

    My take-aways (?takes-away?) from this read? 1. What's up with James? What got his knickers in a twist? 2. Henry? Revenge is a killer. 3. The Laird (original) - Wake up! 4. Mackeller - Why did you stay? 5. Everyone else in the story - Run! A priest died in Alaska a few years ago, and many of his books ended out in boxes that lived in my sib's house. As the boxes were sorted someone remembered I love to read, and so I received some of this man's books. One of them was a 1909 copy of Master of Ballant My take-aways (?takes-away?) from this read? 1. What's up with James? What got his knickers in a twist? 2. Henry? Revenge is a killer. 3. The Laird (original) - Wake up! 4. Mackeller - Why did you stay? 5. Everyone else in the story - Run! A priest died in Alaska a few years ago, and many of his books ended out in boxes that lived in my sib's house. As the boxes were sorted someone remembered I love to read, and so I received some of this man's books. One of them was a 1909 copy of Master of Ballantrae by Robert Louis Stevenson, complete with the letter from an admiring society gifting the book to the religious man. The cover was dusty and had something spilt on it during the years, but was otherwise in good shape - a few pages were raggedy, and many were uncut. The book had never been read. That was an amazing thing to think about. I was reading that ancient, old virgin. Makes me smile even now. Anyway. I love Stevenson's A Child's Garden of Verses. . . .a dear grandma read it to me often, and by three "My Shadow" had a firm place in my performing-for-grownups repertoire. I've read Kidnapped, Treasure Island, and Strange Case of Dr. J and Mr. H. and liked them. So it surprises me to say. . . .I'm not so crazy about Master. . .it feels convoluted and posed, so he could write about the places and events he wanted to write about. I will read a few more of his works, but if they all seem as this one, I may not do all of them. Any favorites out there? Ones you think I shouldn't miss? I love feedback and recommendations.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Bev

    The Master of Ballantrae by Robert Louis Stevenson is a romance in the old style--full of adventure and the heroic theme of the struggle between good and evil. It is the story of two brothers--one the favorite of his father, but somewhat a black sheep, and the other the faithful, loyal son who always does his best for the family, no matter the cost to himself. The time period is that of the Jacobite Rebellion. It served families at the time who could to back their bets both ways. The Durie famil The Master of Ballantrae by Robert Louis Stevenson is a romance in the old style--full of adventure and the heroic theme of the struggle between good and evil. It is the story of two brothers--one the favorite of his father, but somewhat a black sheep, and the other the faithful, loyal son who always does his best for the family, no matter the cost to himself. The time period is that of the Jacobite Rebellion. It served families at the time who could to back their bets both ways. The Durie family is no different. It is decided that one son will go and fight for Bonnie Prince Charlie and the other will stay home and loyal to King George II. Henry, the younger and less favored son, volunteers to go and his father his willing to let him and protect his favorite--but James, the Master of Ballantrae, will have none of it. It appeals to his restless, reckless spirit to go and fight and seek what adventures he may. So he demands they spin a coin for it--and he "wins" and takes himself off to battle. As history notes, the fight does not go well for Prince Charlie and the news reaches Durisdeer, the family castle, of the death of James. The title is passed on to Henry and he marries his brother's intended as well. The household settles down to an uneasy existence....the father and daughter-in-law spend much time comforting each other for the loss of James and Henry, loyal and hard-working as ever, is neglected and even ignored. Then the terrible adventures begin...for the Master of Ballantrae is not dead and is unwilling to leave his family to their uneasy peace. This is really a good story. Unfortunately, it is not nearly as well-told as Treasure Island or Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. There are lots of romantic adventures--pirates and treasure and the walking of planks; ramblings in the wilderness surrounding New York; the burying of treasure; near-misses with Indians (of the New World); travels in India; and an honest-to-goodness duel with swords. There is lots of atmosphere--gothic and guilt-ridden. There is the classic struggle between good and evil. But Stevenson makes rather too much of a good thing. Instead of the clear narration of Jekyll and Hyde, we have lots of ponderous descriptions and drawn-out story-telling by second and third narrators. I found myself skimming some of those bits--and losing nothing of the story, I might add. In the Master of Ballantrae, Stevenson had an evil villain who comes just shy of the pure villainy of Hyde. He could have done so much more with that. But it is, as another Goodreads reviewer mentioned, as if Stevenson were pouring on the literary, highbrow method of storytelling to impress Sir Percy Florence and Lady Shelley--to whom the story was dedicated. A more simple, straight-forward narration would have served him better. Two and a half stars...edging on three.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Zoeb

    "So if you meet me, Have some courtesy Have some sympathy, and some taste Use all your well-learned politesse Or I'll lay your soul to waste. Pleased to meet you, Hope you guessed my name But what's puzzling you is the nature of my game..." - The Rolling Stones, "Sympathy For The Devil" Robert Louis Stevenson called "The Master Of Ballantrae" as containing everything he knew of the Devil. And that is a completely justified way to describe this novel, even as Stevenson already was no stranger to the co "So if you meet me, Have some courtesy Have some sympathy, and some taste Use all your well-learned politesse Or I'll lay your soul to waste. Pleased to meet you, Hope you guessed my name But what's puzzling you is the nature of my game..." - The Rolling Stones, "Sympathy For The Devil" Robert Louis Stevenson called "The Master Of Ballantrae" as containing everything he knew of the Devil. And that is a completely justified way to describe this novel, even as Stevenson already was no stranger to the constant and, on occasion, even omnipresent presence of the Devil or the Enemy within the soul of a man. It is the Devil who cohabits Dr. Jeykill's soul and who then rallies and rebels against not only his own more innocent and considerate alter-ego but also against law and order to devastating results. But while that brilliant novella, hitherto, in my opinion, the finest and most sustained of Stevenson's accomplishments as an incredibly gifted storyteller, will endure on its own, it is in "The Master Of Ballantrae" that we see Stevenson at his most operatic and epic, working at the very peak of his powers, blending the same metaphysical portrait of good and evil trying to reconcile to each other despite being impossible bedfellows with a tale of the same stirring adventure and intrigue that made his "Treasure Island" and "Kidnapped" so unforgettable in their swashbuckling style. And with the consequence, that in blending both moral suspense and high-stakes peril and excitement, he even surpasses his own level of brilliance by a wide margin; "The Master Of Ballantrae" is undeniably a brilliant, bleak, barnstorming masterpiece. Even as "Ballantrae" is neither a straightforward thriller or even a straightforward adventure, it is incredible to realise, as one starts reading it, just how masterfully the writer straddles both these genres while also serving us a rich novel of weighty drama and a very compellingly complex relationship at its very core. This inexorable relationship - of mutual hatred and bitter resentment - is between two promising but ultimately flawed or vulnerable Scottish noblemen back in the tumultuous days of the Jacobite Rebellion and other turbulent events - Henry Durie, the younger, more dignified and well-intentioned heir apparent to the Lord of Durrisdeer and James, his reckless, cunning and even openly Machiavellian elder brother, and the titular "Master" and the battle of wits, personalities and evil designs that lasts and intensifies for almost decades and across seas and countries, thus forming the main meat of the story. It is a rivalry less in the fashion of those usual swashbuckling potboilers and more of an insidious, seething and simmering conflict of two men who would never compromise or agree to reconcile with each other. What inspires each man's stubborn pride is, however, his sense of failure and loss. If Henry has lost the blind love of his father and even the whole-hearted affections of his wife to the absent Master and is thus filled with resentment at being denied the same, the Master, on the other hand, has lost all his reckless and even ambitious chances to earn glory for his brethren in his exploits across the map of an ever-changing world. Stevenson portrays the defeat of both these men with a subtly sardonic resonance and an elegantly dry sense irony, not least because of the fact that a major part of this story is narrated by Mackellar, the aging stewart of the family whose own perspective, prejudices and opinions also shape the story in strange ways; torn as he is between his loyalty to Henry and his sinful admiration for the Master in equal measure, he swings like a moral pendulum, thus making us think and rethink our own attitudes and opinions at the same time. And yet, if all this skillfully wrought intricacy of narrative and perception means that "Ballantrae" is a mouthful to read, rest assured that it is far from a heavy, cumbersome book. My edition was of only 192 pages, just shy of the 200 page mark and yet in those 192 pages, there is a robust, fulfilling story of betrayal, malice, unrequited love and unshakable devotion, envy, greed, war, piracy, naval adventure, colonialism, political intrigue and more and Stevenson keeps on thickening the stew with every subsequent chapter and every new development in the plot, especially in the latter chapters wherein the darkness and the brooding dilemma of morality and reason only intensifies splendidly. Yet, so light and quick-paced is his prose, so enlivened it is with an eye for both precise observation and visual idiom and so thrilling is his orchestration of suspense even in the spare, superbly judged battle of words that he lends his characters that you will never feel like keeping it aside even for once. There is literally not a word wasted here, not a trope that is overused and even as many would guess just where it leads to, the writer keeps on surprising, startling and even shocking us audaciously, as evidenced in that sobering climax in the wilds of Albany where poetic justice, fitting of a frontier, is served on a blood-splattered scale. And finally, I come to the novel's portrait of dualism as an inherent vice of human nature, of the coexistence of Good and Evil, of God and Devil, in the very depths of the human soul. Even as we instinctively root for Henry's nobility and are repulsed by the Master's ignoble deeds, in the end, we are never quite sure as to where our sympathies and concerns lie. Brilliantly, subversively, Stevenson keeps on pulling off the rug beneath our feet, twisting and teasing out our innermost fears and prejudices and then further digging deep to reveal our own sinful admiration for evil of a most charismatic manner. And at the same time, he gives us a rattling, almost breathless tale of this take-no-prisoners battle between Good and Evil, from Scotland to seas red with blood shed by carousing pirates, from the wild, uncharted frontiers of America to a soon-to-be usurped princely state of Hindustan. Buckle up for this is an enthralling and extraordinary ride into the very heart of darkness long before Conrad wrote about it.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Nicola

    3 1/2 Stars This often tense physiological tale about the nature of good and evil is done in a surprisingly subtle and convincing way. The two opposing brothers, one 'good' the other 'bad' are opponents from early manhood due to the (as we see it) unremitting villainy of one brother towards the other. The young son, while kind of heart, is not appreciated by either his family or those around him. He lacks his older brothers charm of manner although his principles are held out to be much better th 3 1/2 Stars This often tense physiological tale about the nature of good and evil is done in a surprisingly subtle and convincing way. The two opposing brothers, one 'good' the other 'bad' are opponents from early manhood due to the (as we see it) unremitting villainy of one brother towards the other. The young son, while kind of heart, is not appreciated by either his family or those around him. He lacks his older brothers charm of manner although his principles are held out to be much better than those of the morally corrupt 'Master'. As the years pass and the hatred of the brothers grows, does our perception of them shift? Or are we, like so many others, being played and imposed upon by one surpassing skilled in the craft of dissimulation?

  16. 5 out of 5

    Chris Purser

    not his best but a good story.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Mark

    This is a story of what happens when good and evil reside in two brothers. But Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Master of Ballantrae is much more than that: it is a story of intrigue, piracy, buried treasure, betrayal and, of course, love. All of this is set in the historically authentic late eighteenth century when Scotland’s Bonnie Prince Charlie stages a Jacobite rebellion to wrest the throne from England’s George II. The dual protagonists are James Durie and his younger brother Henry Durie. They This is a story of what happens when good and evil reside in two brothers. But Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Master of Ballantrae is much more than that: it is a story of intrigue, piracy, buried treasure, betrayal and, of course, love. All of this is set in the historically authentic late eighteenth century when Scotland’s Bonnie Prince Charlie stages a Jacobite rebellion to wrest the throne from England’s George II. The dual protagonists are James Durie and his younger brother Henry Durie. They live with their widowed father in the Durrisdeer and Ballantrae estates, which, according to the law of entail in those days, would be inherited by James, that is, the Master. James is also ready to marry an heiress, Alison. The two brothers are opposites: James is dashing, handsome, and always ready to indulge is risky adventure. He was something of a likeable rascal, notwithstanding that he broke rules and bent moral codes to suit his pleasure. Henry was dutiful, quiet-natured, and sincere, with an unshakeable respect for tradition. It was common practice at this time for Scottish nobles to hedge their bets by supporting the rebellion while simultaneously feigning loyalty to King George. Accordingly, James goes off seeking adventure in the rebellious uprising, while Henry stays home. And so begins a repeated cycle of absences and unwelcome, badly-timed returns by James, invariably with the intention of extracting—even extorting—as much money out of the estate before disappearing again. However, during his first absence, it is rumored that he is dead. Henry has always had feelings for Alison—unreturned by her initially—and eventually marries her. In fact, James has been living in France under a different name since he has been indulging in disloyal acts to Scotland. Upon stealthily returning home, he learns of Alison and Henry’s marriage, and takes it in good spirit. Once again, he demands money; Henry resists. James insults Alison, which leads to a sword-fencing duel between brothers and a surprising outcome involving another disappearance by James. On yet another return home (this time with a mysterious Indian servant called Secundra Dass), Henry has had enough, and Alison finally sees James’s true mercenary colors. Henry decides to leave Ballantrae to James, but with legal and financial limitations, and he and Alison secretly flee to New York. In no time, James has discovered his brother’s whereabouts and dogged him to America. Henry sees there is only one certain way to rid himself of James. An elaborate scheme is concocted, whereby a band of crooks agree to help James recover some treasure he has buried during his pirating days. As the plot thickens, the pace of the story quickens. There is a final scene where the brothers confront each other and, once again, Stevenson provides a plot twist. The Master of Ballantrae is a thrilling tale. Robert Louis Stevenson is skilled in writing adventure stories for grownups. I liken him to H. Rider Haggard and his stirring stories of primitive Africa featuring his Indiana Jones-like protagonist, Allan Quartermain. The Master of Ballantrae is a fast-moving, exciting book, well worth the read!

  18. 4 out of 5

    George

    3.5 stars. An engaging, dark, tragic adventure tale about James and Henry Durie. The rival brothers are caught in a web of hatred, obsession, love and betrayal. James, the Master of Ballantrae, is involved in the tragedy of Culloden and word gets back to the Durie family that James is dead. Henry takes over the house of Durrisdeer and marries Alison, who previously had been James’s intended marriage partner. Things get complicated when it is discovered some three years later that James is alive. 3.5 stars. An engaging, dark, tragic adventure tale about James and Henry Durie. The rival brothers are caught in a web of hatred, obsession, love and betrayal. James, the Master of Ballantrae, is involved in the tragedy of Culloden and word gets back to the Durie family that James is dead. Henry takes over the house of Durrisdeer and marries Alison, who previously had been James’s intended marriage partner. Things get complicated when it is discovered some three years later that James is alive. James had spent some time on a pirate ship before living for a time in France. An entertaining, worthwhile read.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Summer

    I hesitate to rate this. I don't know what happened, but I was just severely uninterested in this. It could've very well been a mood thing. I don't know if I couldn't connect with the writing style, but I only just had a vague idea of what happened in each chapter. It was interesting to see the Esau/Jacob dynamic, but I think I had the expectation of learning a little bit about the Jacobite revolution and history behind it and that's not really what I got. I might try to read this again someday, I hesitate to rate this. I don't know what happened, but I was just severely uninterested in this. It could've very well been a mood thing. I don't know if I couldn't connect with the writing style, but I only just had a vague idea of what happened in each chapter. It was interesting to see the Esau/Jacob dynamic, but I think I had the expectation of learning a little bit about the Jacobite revolution and history behind it and that's not really what I got. I might try to read this again someday, but no time soon.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Sylvester

    I wasn't expecting this, but in retrospect, Stevenson did write "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde", that should have been some indication. Stevenson excels at character examination, and this novel is just that. (I was thinking that with the right cast, it would make a fantastic movie. I know about the 1953 movie, but I mean now - a modern version. Kind of a combination of American Psycho and The Revenant.) So, what happens when there's a psychopath in the family? I wasn't expecting this, but in retrospect, Stevenson did write "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde", that should have been some indication. Stevenson excels at character examination, and this novel is just that. (I was thinking that with the right cast, it would make a fantastic movie. I know about the 1953 movie, but I mean now - a modern version. Kind of a combination of American Psycho and The Revenant.) So, what happens when there's a psychopath in the family?

  21. 4 out of 5

    The Mustache Louie Matos

    This is the second time I read the Master of Ballantrae and I remembered not loving it the first time around; however, as we mature, things change. I am not disappointed that I read this novel. In fact, I’m quite happy at rediscovering this gem that I hope to revisit sometime in the future, including it in my best books alongside Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde., and Treasure Island. The story is about two brothers. James is restless and charismatic; whereas Henry is staid and sober. James goes off to w This is the second time I read the Master of Ballantrae and I remembered not loving it the first time around; however, as we mature, things change. I am not disappointed that I read this novel. In fact, I’m quite happy at rediscovering this gem that I hope to revisit sometime in the future, including it in my best books alongside Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde., and Treasure Island. The story is about two brothers. James is restless and charismatic; whereas Henry is staid and sober. James goes off to war even though it is Henry’s responsibility to go, because James is adventurous and feels that he will gain more honor if he goes to war. In the eyes of their father and all the town’s people, James is correct. His respect is increased while Henry has diminished in everyone’s eyes, except for the narrator, Ephraim Mackellar who is Henry’s steward. The story is really a rivalry between brothers that turns evil and, in some places, horrific as James’ nature is increasingly revealed. As the narrative unfolds and the dichotomies are more completely identified Stevenson appears to be communicating more complicated themes of Scotland’s divided identity. However the story is read, there is adventure, romance, and darkness to be found here. I loved it.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Cindy

    After a couple of dud books that I had been looking forward to, I was really relieved when I picked this one up and was hooked almost from the first page. Maybe it helped that I skipped the long introduction and got right into the story. This is a retelling of the Biblical story of Jacob and Esau set during the 1745 Jacobite Revolution. Two Scottish brothers, James and Henry Durie, reprise the roles of those scriptural brothers and the conflict could not be more exciting. After a coin toss, James After a couple of dud books that I had been looking forward to, I was really relieved when I picked this one up and was hooked almost from the first page. Maybe it helped that I skipped the long introduction and got right into the story. This is a retelling of the Biblical story of Jacob and Esau set during the 1745 Jacobite Revolution. Two Scottish brothers, James and Henry Durie, reprise the roles of those scriptural brothers and the conflict could not be more exciting. After a coin toss, James heads off after Bonnie Prince Charlie while Henry fights for the king. James is presumed dead after the Battle of Culloden and Henry marries the girl intended for James. But James is not as dead as all that, and returns to make trouble for his family. In some ways, this reads like a soap opera. Just when you think things are settled, up pops something horrible. Pirates, duels, a daring escape, buried treasure -- it has it all. The only thing that might discourage a modern reader is occasional use of dialect, but it is rare and there are footnotes in case you are really lost. Totally recommended as a great story sure to keep you turning pages.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Adelaide Mcginnity

    Considering how much action happens over the course of relatively few pages, it is truly a feat of literary incompetence that The Master of Ballantrae seems to plod along at such an excruciatingly tedious pace. The culprit here is obvious: the manner of framing the narrative is way too complex for the story's own good, and often results in the narrative losing forward momentum on mundane repetition while the main action happens only in passing. Complex narrative structures, particularly for stor Considering how much action happens over the course of relatively few pages, it is truly a feat of literary incompetence that The Master of Ballantrae seems to plod along at such an excruciatingly tedious pace. The culprit here is obvious: the manner of framing the narrative is way too complex for the story's own good, and often results in the narrative losing forward momentum on mundane repetition while the main action happens only in passing. Complex narrative structures, particularly for stories that are so full of action as The Master of Ballantrae, require an author of some skill to pull off effectively, and Robert Louis Stevenson simply lacks the literary chops to manage it. What makes it all the more frustrating is that, if he had only canned his narrator and adopted the third-person omniscient, he would have had a good, if somewhat melodramatic, action adventure. Sometimes authors should just stick to what they are good at.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Surreysmum

    [These notes were made in 1983; I read a 1925 edition:]. There's a certain amount of good, clean picaresque fun in this book. But it is overshadowed by a gloomy attempt at psychological characterization - of a man embittered by the monstrous behaviour of a quasi-Gothic brother (said brother does a brief but rather effective resurrection act at the very melodramatic close of the book). A struggle here, once again, I think, between the symbolic and typic tendencies of melodrama/romance, and the "r [These notes were made in 1983; I read a 1925 edition:]. There's a certain amount of good, clean picaresque fun in this book. But it is overshadowed by a gloomy attempt at psychological characterization - of a man embittered by the monstrous behaviour of a quasi-Gothic brother (said brother does a brief but rather effective resurrection act at the very melodramatic close of the book). A struggle here, once again, I think, between the symbolic and typic tendencies of melodrama/romance, and the "realist" impulse of straight psychological characterization; here moderately well combined through the medium of a somewhat unreliable narrator, but the otherwise rather engaging conclusion pushes the limits of credibility a wee bit too far, methinks. The multiple narrative form also has its attractions (alternation between the faithful family functionary and a cowardly adventurer).

  25. 5 out of 5

    Brian

    The final book in the Robert Louis Stevenson collection that I got from my brother-in-law for Christmas several years ago. (Well this was actually second to last, but I skipped ahead to read David Balfour right after Kidnapped, so I should say it was the last one left for me to read). This story was pretty good, and it ended really strong, but there were chunks that felt a bit laborious and hard to get through. Some of the difficulty came from the narrator himself, especially when he interrupted The final book in the Robert Louis Stevenson collection that I got from my brother-in-law for Christmas several years ago. (Well this was actually second to last, but I skipped ahead to read David Balfour right after Kidnapped, so I should say it was the last one left for me to read). This story was pretty good, and it ended really strong, but there were chunks that felt a bit laborious and hard to get through. Some of the difficulty came from the narrator himself, especially when he interrupted the flow to make some declaration about why he's telling the story a certain way. I liked him as a character, but not as much as a narrator if that makes any sense. Altogether the narrative structure was interesting and convincing that it could have arisen through the given means rather than be an entire work of fiction. Once again I feel like some elements of the story assume that the reader is familiar with the Jacobite Uprising and some of the associated politics. My casual familiarity from having read (and doing some background research about) some of the other books saw me through well enough, but I think I would have appreciated it more if I had done a little more research to refresh and maybe deepen my understanding of that chapter in history before picking this one up. For me, the last part of the book was worth slogging through the slower parts. Looking back, I would say that started about four or five chapters from the end, and just got better the closer it got, right up to the final words of the book, which I think made the perfect ending and left quite an impact, almost like the final words of a really pointed and focused poem. If I were to rank this one, I would put it above Prince Otto and David Balfour, but below Treasure Island, Kidnapped, Black Arrow, and Jekyll & Hyde. On reflection, I would say that there were lots of parallels between this one and J&H, including themes and the efforts to make a convincing story for how the narrative itself came to be. I'm a little fuzzy on the finer points of that story, so it might be time to revisit it...

  26. 4 out of 5

    Rebeca Pacheco

    The master of Ballantrae Last week the teacher gave us a book to read in class. We finished the book today and I am going to say that is very boring. I do not think that this book was written for young people. The book was written in Scotland in 1745. I was expecting so much from it because the images were so interesting. Despite not liking the book, I like the part when the brothers die, because they tried to save James' wife. The reason the characters of the book were the best part is because the The master of Ballantrae Last week the teacher gave us a book to read in class. We finished the book today and I am going to say that is very boring. I do not think that this book was written for young people. The book was written in Scotland in 1745. I was expecting so much from it because the images were so interesting. Despite not liking the book, I like the part when the brothers die, because they tried to save James' wife. The reason the characters of the book were the best part is because their personality was so different compared with other books that I have read. The first two chapters were interesting because they present the plot and characters, the others chapters were quite boring. Regardless of the fact that this book is a master piece because it is written in a complicated vocabulary. Another forgivable mistake is the sometimes unbelievable make up the characters wore.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Marco Vinicio

    The Master of Bellantrae Two months ago, I started reading the book "The Master of Bellantrae" which is a book that talks about Scotland in 1745. This year many people fought to put a Scottish king on the British throne. I expected it to be more interesting but it was not. I must admit, the book can be very popular around the world. The best point about this book are the plot and the places where the story takes place. The places are very interesting because they always change but it is a notoriou The Master of Bellantrae Two months ago, I started reading the book "The Master of Bellantrae" which is a book that talks about Scotland in 1745. This year many people fought to put a Scottish king on the British throne. I expected it to be more interesting but it was not. I must admit, the book can be very popular around the world. The best point about this book are the plot and the places where the story takes place. The places are very interesting because they always change but it is a notorious change that makes you feel the story in real life and the plot takes you in the story, you feel all the things that happen and makes you feel like you are in that year. I believe this book can be better and maybe if a person rewrites it, can be improved. One of the better parts of the book is when the two brothers die because when Secundra tried to revive him she couldn't and he also died. I really enjoy this book and in some parts I was really excited.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Max Tapia

    A week ago, I was very lucky to be invited by teacher Andrea to read Robert Louis Stevenson’s book, “The Mastre of Ballantrae”. The book is set in an imaginary situation in the year 1745, and fiction is beautifully mixed with the story of the book. I was not expecting too much from it because I hate reading and the unpopularity with the general public of this writer’s book. The best points about the film are the characters and the end. On the one hand, the main characters show amusing aspects of A week ago, I was very lucky to be invited by teacher Andrea to read Robert Louis Stevenson’s book, “The Mastre of Ballantrae”. The book is set in an imaginary situation in the year 1745, and fiction is beautifully mixed with the story of the book. I was not expecting too much from it because I hate reading and the unpopularity with the general public of this writer’s book. The best points about the film are the characters and the end. On the one hand, the main characters show amusing aspects of human behaviour, which makes easy to empathise with. On the other hand, the end is really interesting and unexpected, it definitely keeps you on the edge of your seat all the time. To put it briefly, “The Mastre of Ballantrae” is suitable for teenagers who want to enjoy a nice story.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Jean-françois Baillon

    I have to admit that it took me quite a while before I was able to go past the first page of this daunting masterpiece. I had to try a few times before I could actually get the hang of Stevenson's austere introduction to a world of deceit and darkness, not unlike his easier texts in many ways but of a less seductive appearance. The language spoken by the narrator as well as the characters is probably part of my difficulty: this is a world the reader enters without any guarantee that any rewards I have to admit that it took me quite a while before I was able to go past the first page of this daunting masterpiece. I had to try a few times before I could actually get the hang of Stevenson's austere introduction to a world of deceit and darkness, not unlike his easier texts in many ways but of a less seductive appearance. The language spoken by the narrator as well as the characters is probably part of my difficulty: this is a world the reader enters without any guarantee that any rewards are to be reaped in terms of pleasure and fun. No easy source of enjoyment ever seems to present itself and only moral considerations are at stake. It takes time to adjust oneself to such a world but the end of the journey makes the effort worth one's while.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Charlene

    An intriguing story, but I felt the execution of the narrative was choppy at times. It didn't flow as naturally as his other works. Still, the characters certainly grabbed and tugged at the emotions and I really wanted to see justice come for poor Henry. This felt like a psychological study and I think the Master is one of the best literary villains I've seen. Complex, elegant, ruthless, yet human all the same, in all its grime and glory. An intriguing story, but I felt the execution of the narrative was choppy at times. It didn't flow as naturally as his other works. Still, the characters certainly grabbed and tugged at the emotions and I really wanted to see justice come for poor Henry. This felt like a psychological study and I think the Master is one of the best literary villains I've seen. Complex, elegant, ruthless, yet human all the same, in all its grime and glory.

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