The Talisman (1825 novel)

The Talisman (1825 novel)

infobox Book |
name = The Talisman

image_caption = David Earl of Huntingdon
Frontispiece to 1863 edition by A & C Black
author = Sir Walter Scott
cover_artist =
country = Scotland
language = English
series = "Tales of the Crusaders"
genre = Historical novel
publisher = Archibald Constable and Co
release_date = June 22, 1825
media_type = Print (Hardback & Paperback)
pages =
isbn = NA
preceded_by = "The Betrothed"
followed_by =

"The Talisman" is a novel by Sir Walter Scott. It was published in 1825 as the second of his "Tales of the Crusaders", (the first being "The Betrothed").

Plot summary

The Talisman takes place at the end of the Third Crusade, mostly in the camp of the Crusaders in Palestine. Scheming and partisan politics, as well as the illness of King Richard the Lionheart, are placing the Crusade in danger. The main characters are the knight Kenneth, who is the fictional character of David Earl of Huntingdon, who did in fact return from the third Crusade in 1190, Richard the Lionheart, Saladin, and Edith Plantagenet, a relative of Richard.

Kenneth is sent on a mission to discuss a potential peace treaty with the Saracens. He meets, fights and befriends a lone Saracen emir, who eventually turns out to be Saladin in disguise.

Major themes

The piece features many schemes from within the alliance against Richard the Lionheart's plans to complete the Crusade. These involve historical figures such as the Master of the Knights Templar and Conrad of Montserrat (the historical Conrad of Montferrat: Scott mistook the 'f' for a long 's' in his researches). After several betrayals and a nearly fatal mistake by Kenneth, his redemption, justice for the schemers, and the peace treaty follow.

An interesting feature is the character of Saladin—portrayed as virtuous and moral, in contrast to some of the despicable European nobles in the story. This is a feature of Romanticism, but perhaps also a reflection of a rising European interest in the Orient.

Historical anomaly

Sir Kenneth is eventually revealed to be David of Scotland, Earl of Huntingdon in disguise, and marries the Lady Edith. However, David's real wife was Maude of Chester, who goes unmentioned (Edith Plantagenet is a fictional character). David was also in his late forties at the time of the Third Crusade, while Sir Kenneth appears to be considerably younger.


The 1954 movie "King Richard and the Crusaders" was based on "The Talisman". (Rex Harrison, who portrayed Saladin in the film, calls it a "rotten" picture in his autobiography.) The 1923 silent film "King Richard the Lion-Hearted" was also based on the novel. The 1963 Egyptian epic film El Naser Salah-Ad Din (Saladin Victorious) takes much of its inspiration from this novel.


A 1980 British miniseries was also made of "The Talisman".

External links

*gutenberg|no=1377|name=The Talisman
* [ "The Talisman"] at [ Walter Scott Digital Archive] , the University of Edinburgh library

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