The minor characters include Adam Woodcock, a falconer and erstwhile friend of Raland; Magdalen Graeme, Rolands grandmother and a fierce adherent of both Mary and Catholicism, who disguises herself as the purported witch, Mother Nicneven; Dryfesdale, the Calvinist steward of Lochleven Castle, who is killed by Catherines brother, Henry; Luke Lundin, a medical practitioner and fierce anti-Catholic and the ex-Abbot Boniface, who revealed that Roland is indeed the legitimate heir of Julian Avenal, and the babe whose parents both died on the battlefield toward the end of The Monastery. A good read, but it appeared relatively directionless, as indeed was true for its main character until about 2 or 300 pages into the book when sent to guard over Mary, Roland eventually becomes her adherent and assistant in her escape.
It is pretty long for a foray such as this, and I would probably recommend that a casual reader go with Ivanhoe or Rob Roy, which are probably better books as they are so famous.
I'm beginning to regret my resolution to read all the novels of Sir Walter Scott.
Scott's original is fairly heavily loaded with formulaic expositions about religious adherence, and indulges a lot in lengthy, dramatic, lovestruck dialogue. The Abbot has an essentially linear plot, despite a few unexpected twists and turns: The lead character, Roland Graeme, leads his life according to the destiny that others have planned for him, despite his occasional grumbling about it and his yearning for independence, which presumably is reached at the end of the book.
It turns out that The Abbot (though even more misleadingly titled than The Monastery) is a terrific novel about the brief period in time when Mary, Queen of Scots, was interned in Loch Leven Castle, after having been forced by her illegitimate half-brother, the Earl of Moray, to abdicate her crown. Hard to imagine that by the time the book starts, Mary had already been queen of two countries, widowed three times, and was still only 26!
Scott created and popularized historical novels in a series called the Waverley Novels. In his novels Scott arranged the plots and characters so the reader enters into the lives of both great and ordinary people caught up in violent, dramatic changes in history. Central themes of many of Scott's novels are about conflicts between opposing cultures.