"The Doones are formidable enemies, my Lord, they are of ancient and noble birth." ~ John Ridd (Richard Coyle)
As a young man, golden-haired John Ridd witnessed his father's violent murder at the hands of a Doone during a raid on Porlock. The image has haunted him ever since, but his mother, Sarah, demanded that he refrain from vengeance upon the Doones. A short time after the incident, John met a mysterious little girl named Lorna when he slipped and fell over the falls. The child, concerned for him but also for herself, urged him never to return.
Seven years pass before he breaks his promise unintentionally. When his Uncle Ruben is beaten and flogged by the Doones for sport, John seeks a way into the valley for revenge. What he finds is a stunning beauty that can only be Lorna, and his attraction grows until he is unable to stay away from the haunting falls and their raven captive. Lorna fears for his life, and reveals to him that she is a Doone, and betrothed to marry her the violent and brutal cousin Carver.
As their romance intensifies, rebellion broils in the heart of England in a dispute over who is the rightful King of England - James or Monmouth - and John is called to London to face Judge Jeffries in an accusation against the Doones. He returns to find Sir Ensor very ill and near death, as well as a shaken family over the happenings. Attempting to persuade Lorna to go away with him, John is hurt and angered when she refuses to leave her grandfather, despite Carver's threats that upon the old man's death, their marriage will shortly follow.
Corrupt government officials rule over Devon, and John must find a way to rescue his family from treachery, as well as save Lorna from a fate worse than death... before England erupts into a civil war. But a hidden secret in her past may destroy their hopes for the future forever, and give Carver the last laugh.
John's facial expressions, in particular his smile, are what most struck Lorna Doone fans. His personality is ever-winding and unexpected, and changes from violent passion one moment to gentle condescension the next, even tampered anger. Strong and tall, he proves a formidable opponent to the slender and clever Carver. Sometimes simple in thought, but surprisingly quick to ascertain the jist of the situation, he's one to have on your side... no matter who you're fighting for.
The scene at Whitehall, in which John has barely escaped hanging, and sees Lorna, in all her radiant scarlet glory, passing down the alabaster halls for church. He struggles against the throng of people, craning his neck, his great blue eyes showing a shimmering sadness as at last he glimpses her... follows her through the pillars. The most saddening moment is when her eyes meet his for the last time, and then she passes into the church... and the doors are shut forever in his face.
"The Doones are formidable enemies, my Lord, they are of ancient and noble birth."
"Annie's not one of
your barmaids to be seduced, then abandoned the next day!"
"He's a thief! He's a common highwayman! You're mad! You know what kind of man he is. You know I like Tom, but he's unsuitable."
"Your honor, give me a few well-trained men and I will finish the job once and for all."