Just recently I've been reading the great classic novel Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott, and one of the things that struck me is that although it is titled Ivanhoe, the hero, who bears that name, is out of action for large chunks of the book. He appears early on, gets injured, and then spends a long time lying about in a tent, being carried through the forest in a litter, and then languishing in a castle being tended by a beautiful girl. Although he does finally recover so that he can gallop to the rescue at the end of the book, he misses one of the best fights because he is still lying in bed. This scenario seemed strangely familiar somehow. Aha, I thought, this is just like Peeta in The Hunger Games. But when I thought about it, there were a whole bunch of other similarities.
Therefore, I bring you: 10 ways in which Ivanhoe is like The Hunger Games trilogy. You're welcome.
- There are the haves (the Norman nobility, the residents of the Capitol) and the have-nots (the dispossessed Saxons, the residents of the Districts). The have-nots tend to supplement their diet by poaching deer.
- There is an evil ruler who is skin-crawlingly horrible: Prince John in Ivanhoe, and President Snow in The Hunger Games.
- There is a whole lot of fighting with different weapons, quite a lot of it in the woods. Bows and arrows feature heavily.
- There’s a special signal of a short series of notes. Rue has her four-note mockingjay call, and in Ivanhoe the outlaws have a three note bugle signal to summon help. Three notes, four notes, practically the same really.
- The arena gets wrecked in both. In Catching Fire, Katniss shoots a hole in the force field and destroys it. Meanwhile, in 12th century England, Torquilstone castle, scene of a climactic battle, is stormed and burnt down to the ground.
- There’s a hot love triangle with one blonde and one brunette. In Ivanhoe, the hero has to decide between blonde Saxon princess Rowena and dark haired Jewish beauty Rebecca. In The Hunger Games trilogy, Katniss has to decide between blond Peeta and dark haired Gale. At the end, the reader is still sucking their teeth over the choice.
- The hero spends most of the book injured and out of action, being tended by the heroine. In The Hunger Games, Peeta lies around in a cave having his brow mopped by Katniss; meanwhile Ivanhoe lies around in a tent, a litter and later a castle, having his brow mopped by Rebecca.
- There is an older, unfit bloke who drinks too much. Haymitch, meet Friar Tuck.
- There is one character who dresses in bizarre colourful clothes and says things which would probably provoke the other characters if they didn’t have a certain amount of affection for them. I’m thinking Wamba the jester here, and Effie Trinket.
- There are three volumes in each. Aha, you may be thinking, The Hunger Games is a trilogy, but Ivanhoe is just one book, available as a handy Penguin paperback. This is true, but actually the first edition came in three volumes. I win.