“It is commonly conceded that Dumas rescued historical fiction from the plodding, turgid style in which Sir Walter Scott and his many imitators had entombed it. He took considerable liberties with historical truth — as, indeed, have most writers of historical fiction — but he knew how to keep a plot under full steam.” Jonathan Yardley on The Count of Monte Cristo. I have to disagree slightly. Went through a huge phase in my youth (longlost, alas), where I thought the most dramatic line ever written came from Ivanhoe: “Beware, Saxon, lest you strike horse!”

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