Book review: The Master of Ballantrae: A Winter’s Tale by Robert Louis Stevenson

The Master of Ballantrae: A Winter's TaleThe Master of Ballantrae: A Winter’s Tale by Robert Louis Stevenson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Free download available at eBooks@Adelaide.

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.


2 thoughts on “Book review: The Master of Ballantrae: A Winter’s Tale by Robert Louis Stevenson

  1. Pingback: Book review: Kenilworth by Walter Scott | Pleasure of Reading

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