I wasn’t sure if I wanted to reread the House of Niccolo series of books. Claes didn’t fascinate me much as Lymond but I have to admit I have completely changed my mind the second time around.
Genre :Historical Fiction
Source: I bought the ebook
We meet Claes ,in 15th Century Bruge,, an eighteen-year-old dyer’s apprentice and follow his transformation to Nicholas vander Poele a twenty-year-old merchant and how he touches the lives of the friends, lovers and enemies ( but not always in a positive sense) along the way.
Like so many other readers, I fell in love with Dunnett’s Lymond Chronicles, so after I finished Checkmate, I needed to fill the void with another epic story full of twists and turns. I hoped Niccolo rising would fill the gap but while I did enjoy the House of Niccolo it just didn’t seem to hold the same hold as Lymond. But I decided to give this series another read.
Niccolo rising is set a hundred years or so before Lymond but Dunnett references Nicholas as being part of Lymond’s story and you can see the similarities between the two men.
Nicholas starts off as a pleasant, charming teenager who gets into trouble almost from the start and attracts the unwanted attention of Simon St Pol and his father who seem on a mission to destroy the simple-minded boy. But as the story continues, it is clear that Claes is far from the uncomplicated boy and it is only in the final reveal we learn how clever Claes is.
The book is much easier to read compared to the Game of Kings, but you do need to pay attention to detail- on my second reading the clues and hints becomes made so much more sense. The end truly did blow my mind with the sheer cleverness of it all.
This time around I am going to pay more attention and I’m already impressed at how Dunnett has laid the seeds for so many plot threads in the later books. I am also going to take my reread to a slightly more obsessive level and try and draw up a family tree of Claes’s family and his friends and their descendants. The book is epic in its scope- Nicholas travels from Bruges to the Alps to Venice to the battlefields near Naples and Dunnett’s description is vivid and bring this time to life. But of course, this is Dunnett, so we have sinking baths, ostriches and people being chased in barrels peppering the story.
Of course, Nicholas has a complicated love life and his relationship with Katerina is almost cringeworthily a disaster. But Dunnett’s women are never passive and so the Widow de Charetty and Katerina are strong capable women who keep Claes in check.
Attempted sexual assault, violence and poor Claes spends a lot of his time being hit or slapped by various people.
Perfect for fans of
The Lymond Chronicles, Kate Mosse
Five stars- I loved this book the second time around and have no doubt I will enjoy the rest of the series again