Little did I know when I picked Waverley that I was choosing a momentous book in literary history. Waverley was Scott's first novel. Previously, he had only published poetry. Waverley and its successors were international bestsellers. It established the novel as a serious form of literature. And it created the genre of historical fiction. Before Waverley, there had been history and fiction, but it took Sir Walter Scott to combine them into historical fiction and make the genre widely popular.
Waverley tells the story of Edward Waverley, the nephew of an English lord who, pretty much through his own naiveté, finds himself fighting on the side of the Jacobites and Bonnie Prince Charlie Stuart. Like Catherine Morland of Northanger Abbey, Waverley read too many romances as a child, and now he is drawn to the romance of Scotland. He finds love and a brotherhood that changes the course of his life.
Despite being about a rebellion, there isn't a ton of action in this book. It's rather slow-paced, with plenty of notes in the back to refer to in order to figure out exactly what Scott was trying to say. This book isn't for everybody; some would probably find it boring. But I definitely enjoyed discovering Scotland in the mid-1700s and experiencing this piece of literary history.