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The Master of Ballantrae
The Master of Ballantrae
The Master of Ballantrae
Audiobook8 hours

The Master of Ballantrae

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

3/5

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The year is 1745, and Prince Charlie of the defeated royal house of Stuart, has just returned to Scottish soil. A weighty choice faces every Scottish man. Should he stitch a white cockade to his hat and join the fight to restore James, Prince Charlie's father to the British throne? Or should he stay at home and back George II, the reigning King. One Lowland family, the Duries of Durisdeer and Ballantrae, believe they've found a clever way to sidestep the decision. With the toss of a coin, a choice is made that will haunt their lives forever.

Critics consider this to be Stevenson's greatest work. For, though there is plenty of adventure, (including midnight duels, pirates and smugglers), the true merit of the novel comes from the author's masterly portrayal of the fraternal enemies. If you've never read this book, you won't want to miss this!
LanguageEnglish
Release dateJan 1, 2011
ISBN9781937091873
Author

Robert Louis Stevenson

Robert Louis Stevenson (1850–1894) was a Scottish novelist, poet, essayist, and travel writer. His most famous works are Treasure Island, Kidnapped, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and A Child's Garden of Verses. Battling frequent illness, he traveled frequently in search of curative climates and died at the age of 44 in Samoa. A literary celebrity during his lifetime, Stevenson now ranks as the 26th most translated author in the world.

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Rating: 3.064777327935223 out of 5 stars
3/5

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  • Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
    4/5
    The Master of Ballantrae by Robert Louis Stevenson is a sweeping adventure story about the rivalry between two brothers that unfolds over many years and is set in Scotland and the early American wilderness. One brother is evil and one is good, but most people find the evil brother charming while the good one is solid and rather boring. When the favored son and heir, James joins Bonnie Prince Charlie at Culloden in 1745 he leaves behind his younger brother Henry, his father and his fiancee, Alison. When he is presumed dead after the defeat of the rebels, the younger brother becomes the Master of Ballantrae and marries the fiancee but is always second best with his father, his wife and his tenants. When the news is brought that the egotistical and abusive James is still alive the torment of the younger brother begins. The author uses the themes of good and evil, life and death to spin a colorful tale of adventure, sorrow and revenge. This book was first published in 1889 and certainly stands the test of time as it is still a page turner. Although it can be a little over the top in terms of drama, there is plenty of action that keeps the story interesting and moving along. The Master of Ballantrae is a dark romanticized story of a divided family and the consequences of extreme hatred.
  • Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
    3/5
    The Master of Ballantrae is not one of Stevenson's better novels but I knew that before going into it. It's been sometimes described as "masterly", and since I've rarely read any Stevenson I didn't like, I gave it a try. The psychological battle between two brothers is the sub-text of this Scott-like epic historical tale with elements of James Fenimore Cooper's Leatherstocking Tales, Treasure Island and Kidnapped. However unlike Scott and Cooper, who had nationalistic designs, Stevenson's is a darker more inward looking story of psychology. The overall effect is strange and a bit sensational (ala Woman in White). Not to my taste, but I understand Stevenson was influenced by Scott growing up and wanted ultimately to write a series of Scottish historical romances that would help with Scotland's independence movement. But instead he wrote Ballantrae in the middle of winter (thus "A Winter's Tale") in the Adirondack Mountains of New York on his way to the Pacific, far away from Scotland, to which he would never return. Rather than a national epic it is an odd sort of genre-bending thriller probably best read today for the psychological struggle between two brothers.
  • Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
    5/5
    An overlooked classic and maybe Stevenson's greatest work. A Gothic adventure with the same sense of fated family tragedy as Wuthering Heights. As profound and technically interesting as Bronte's classic, but a more exciting read.
  • Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
    4/5
    Two brothers lives are entwined though they are very different characters, even in death they are not separated.
  • Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
    4/5
    This book lacks the high levels of suspense, action, and adventure in some of Stevenson's better-known works (though there is some piracy and a trek through the American wilderness). Instead, it focuses mostly on the relationship between two brothers, as described by an admittedly partisan old servant. As such, it's an interesting read -- is the older brother really as evil as he's painted? Is the younger brother some sort of martyr, or just a whinging grump? I'm not sorry to have read this book . . . but I won't be reading it again.
  • Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
    3/5
    This was interesting for the setting, early America, immigrant fleeing from Scotland and all that. The story itself did not move me much, rather typical of its times. Not my favorite Stevenson, but others may disagree.
  • Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
    4/5
    A novel of adventure and action on one level; a novel of psychological terror on another. Stevenson structures his narrative around themes of family pride, rivalry between brothers, and psychotic dominance whose power eventually destroys everyone. The story of the Durie family is "framed" in the discovery of a hundred-year old manuscript written by the narrator, Ephriam Mackellar. A feud between the two Durie brothers: James, the elder and the Master of Ballantrea, and Henry, the younger, his pawn, span the period of history of the Scottish rebellion and battle of Culloden to the early settlement in the New World. The Master, supporter of the losing side in the rebellion and reported killed,actually escapes. Henry, not aware that his brother still lives, succeeds to the title, the estate and his brother's betrothed, Alison Graeme. The Master returns, to the surprise of his family, and proceeds to squander all the money he can get from the estate. A third level of the narrative twines within this action, through the discovery of papers written by a fellow soldier of the Master, who related their adventures after fleeing from Culloden(captured by pirates and becomming pirates themselves, acquiring and hiding treasure, committing a series of murders evidently for gain as well as for the fun of it). Meanwhile the psychological "cat and mouse" game between James and Henry reaches flash point when Henry realizes that the evil James is planning to corrupt Henry's son as well as seduce his wife. They fight a duel. James is killed but his body mysteriously disappears before the family can establish his actual death. Eventually James reappears, alive and well, at Ballantrea and the family decides to flee secretly to America. James discovers their new home and follows them. Meanwhile there is a political attempt (though feeble) to reinstate James as true Master of Ballantrae in England which causes Henry to loose his reason. The eventual show-down between the two brothers results in one of the worst fates of an evil-doer in literature. Let me just say that the "cat and mouse" game intensifies, the hidden treasure (real or imaginary) spurs horrific consequences to the searchers and James pays the price. Power and control over others through psychological intimidation winds throughout the narrative. Vital pieces of information are witheld at crucial points from crucial characters and there is uncertainty of the reliability of certain narrators. Stevenson places the reader in the delicious position of sorting out what exactly is happening and attemping to determine the how and why of James and Henry's actions. The Master of Ballantrae will keep you thinking long after you finish the novel.
  • Rating: 2 out of 5 stars
    2/5
    I generally adore Stevenson, but this one was enough of a trial that I stopped reading mid-way. The book is memorable to me for some very (very!) striking passages in the Master's early life, including piracy described with no gilding and, one fears, great accuracy. But in the second half the pace slows, and the tone flags. Also, I dislike reading about detestable people, and hate more when no one lifts a finger to stop them...
  • Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
    4/5
    This is a dramatic account of a desperate rivalry between two brothers of the Scottish Durie family, James, the eponymous Master, and his younger sibling Henry. Their antipathy is sparked off when, during the 1745 rebellion of Bonnie Prince Charlie, their father decides to hedge his bets by having one son side with the rebellion and the other side with British King George II. James, despite being the eldest and the heir to his father's estates, gets to be the one to support the rebellion, but is more motivated by mischief making than political principle. He regularly returns to taunt his brother and father, considering himself abandoned when Henry inherits the title after he is believed to be dead. The struggle eventually costs their father his life, and the struggle transfers over the Atlantic to New York where it ends in double tragedy in the American wilderness. A good read, lacking the overall impact and colourful characters of Treasure Island, but probably a better structured novel.
  • Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
    4/5
    Two brothers lives are entwined though they are very different characters, even in death they are not separated.