The Talisman is a novel by Sir Walter Scott. It was published in 1825 as the second of his Tales of the Crusaders, (the first being The Betrothed). Scott's historical novels were enormously popular in the 19th century.
The Talisman takes place at the end of the Third Crusade, mostly in the camp of the Crusaders in Palestine. Scheming and partisan politics, as well as the illness of King Richard the Lionheart, are placing the Crusade in danger. The main characters are the knight Kenneth, Richard the Lionheart, Saladin, and Edith Plantagenet, a relative of Richard.
Kenneth is sent on a mission to discuss a potential peace treaty with the Saracens. He meets, fights and befriends a lone Saracen emir, who eventually turns out to be Saladin in disguise.
The piece features many schemes from within the alliance against Richard the Lionheart's plans to complete the Crusade. These involve historical figures such as the Master of the Knights Templar and Conrade of Montserrat. After several betrayals and a nearly fatal mistake by Kenneth, his redemption, justice for the schemers and the peace treaty follow.
An interesting feature is the character of Saladin - portrayed as virtuous and moral, in contrast to some of the despicable European nobles in the story. This is a feature of Romanticism, but perhaps also a reflection of a rising interest in the West with the Orient.
- Online text of "The Talisman" (http://www2.arts.gla.ac.uk/SESLL/STELLA/STARN/prose/WSCOTT/TALISMAN/contents.htm)
- Free eBook of The Talisman (http://www.gutenberg.org/etext/1377) at Project Gutenberg
The Talisman is also the title of a 1983 fantasy novel by Stephen King and Peter Straub. The plot of the King/Straub novel is not a reworking of the Scott story, although there is one oblique reference to "a Sir Scott Walter Scott novel".
This book charts the adventure of a twelve year old boy named Jack Sawyer. The young hero sets out from the East Coast of the USA in a bid to save his mother, who is dying from cancer, by finding an artifact called 'The Talisman'.
By splitting the story between 'The Territories' (a strange, fantasy world with ties to King's Dark Tower series) and the familiar US, King and Straub are able to constantly able to throw Jack from the frying pan to the fire, as he escapes from one life-threatening situation to another. Accompanied by a werewolf named Wolf and his friend Richard, Jack must retrieve the Talisman before it falls in the hands of his deceased father's evil accomplice Morgan Sloat.