If the 1997 (?) adaptation of Ivanhoe is accurate, then I know a few things about Walter Scott:
1. He didn’t like the Templars.
2. He didn’t much like most of his characters.
3. He was a vicious old bugger who liked inflicting, or at least imagining, pain on other people.
I really enjoyed the portrayal of John. Young, childish, scared, weak – with a streak of ruthless cruelty. The scene with Richard, John and Eleanor is hilarious, with her treating her sons like children and ordering them around… just a pity that it was so ahistorical, since Richard was her favourite and she would have had problems with Richard spending little time in England in favour of Aquitaine, as he did. Which brings in the other ahistorical bit, with Richard and John both being abe to communicate with the Saxons very easily… unlikely, since neither of them spoke English, and I doubt that many of the Saxons – the peasants, anyway – spoke Norman. But, tut; so many people make these assumptions.
I really enjoyed Blois Guibert’s character – he was so very bad, and then to twist his heart in such a way as to make him fall for Rebecca was a terrible, tragic thing. And Christopher Lee as the Grand Master – superb!
I bought a second-hand copy of the book a while ago… not sure I can read it any time soon, now.