Top Ten Tuesday-  Quotes from the Lymond Chronicles by Dorothy Dunnett

It’s another Tuesday and another Top Ten Tuesday. This time it’s memorable quotes around a particular theme, so how could I resist quotes from the Lymond Chronicles by Dorothy Dunnett.

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

When I thought of this TTT I could only imagine Dorothy Dunnett  and her amazing ability as an author in the historical fiction series The Lymond Chronicles ( series review here) so here we go.

“I despised men who accepted their fate. I shaped mine twenty times and had it broken twenty times in my hands.”   

Game of Kings

“Habits are the ruin of ambition, of initiative, of imagination

Game of Kings

“The coast’s a jungle of Moors, Turks, Jews, renegades from all over Europe, sitting in palaces built from the sale of Christian slaves. There are twenty thousand men, women and children in the bagnios of Algiers alone. I am not going to make it twenty thousand and one because your mother didn’t allow you to keep rabbits, or whatever is at the root of your unshakable fixation.”

“I had weasels instead,” said Philippa shortly.

“Good God,” said Lymond, looking at her. “That explains a lot.”
Pawn in Frankincense

“I have learned,’ said Lymond, ‘that kindness without love is no kindness.”

Pawn in Frankincense

“I never expect anything,’ said Marthe. ‘It provides a level, low-pitched existence with no disappointments.

Pawn in Frankincense

“He has to perfection, M. le Comte, the art of living his private life with as much public attention as possible.”

Pawn in Frankincense

“I would give you my soul in a blackberry pie; and a knife to cut it with. Disorderly knights”

Pawn in Frankincense

“A Scott, having got his bride pregnant, was apt to file her as completed business for eight months at a time.”

Disorderly Knights

“Though whether the mass murder of strangers for one’s principles ranks higher in virtue than attacking one’s neighbours for the hell of it is a point I’m glad I don’t have to settle.

Disorderly Knights

“My son took many years to learn the simple truth. You cannot love any one person adequately until you have made friends with the rest of the human race also. Adult love demands qualities which cannot be learned living in a vacuum of resentment.” 

Checkmate

“Intolerance drunk is bad enough, but intolerance sober is quite insupportable.”

Checkmate

“It is not enough,’ Robert Reid said, ‘to offer justice. The laws of men, the laws of God himself are not enough unless you know the heart, the tongue, the brain, the gut of your people.” Checkmate

Checkmate

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The Spring of the Ram by Dorothy Dunnett- Book review

This is my second reading of  second book in Dorothy Dunnett’s historical fiction series House of Niccolo- The Spring of Ram and  yes, I missed loads the first time round. Here is my review.

Genre: Historical Fiction

Series: Book 2 of the House of Niccolo series.

Source :My Own

In 1461, Nicholas is in Florence. Backed by none other than Cosimo de’ Medici, he will sail the Black Sea to Trebizond, last outpost of Byzantium, and the last jewel missing from the crown of the Ottoman Empire. But trouble lies ahead. Nicholas’s stepdaughter — at the tender age of thirteen — has eloped with his rival in trade: a Machiavellian Genoese who races ahead of Nicholas, sowing disaster at every port. And time is of the essence: Trebizond may fall to the Turks at any moment.

Review

The Spring of the Ram picks up after the end of Niccolo rising( review here) in 1461 where we learn that Nicholas believes himself to be the son of Simon St Pol- the cause of their enmity. His friends and allies are wary of Nicholas’s clever manipulations and have him on a short leash but are equally happy to follow through on his plans to make the Charetty company rich. But of course, his path is full of obstacles and people he has to conquer to fulfil his plan. Nicholas sets sail to Trebizond to trade but Doria, a rival merchant elopes with Catherine-Nicholas’s 13-year-old step-daughter sabotaging Nicholas’s plans at every opportunity.

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Niccolo Rising by Dorothy Dunnett , Book one of the House of Niccolo– Book Review

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.

Book Review

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.

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Checkmate by Dorothy Dunnett- Book review

An epic finale to the epic Lymond Chronicles, I found Checkmate by Dorothy Dunnett to be the perfect end to this historical series.

Genre: Historical fiction

Series The Lymond Chronicles ( series review here)

There may be spoilers for previous books in this review.

“The more modest your expectations, the less often you will court disappointment.”
― Dorothy Dunnett, Checkmate

Lymond is stuck in France and stuck in a marriage he is desperate to escape, so he agrees to France’s terms to ensure his divorce from Phillipa is granted. He is promptly embroiled in politics, intrigue and actual war but that is easier to manage than then an increasingly complicated relationship between him and Phillipa. Will Lymond ever find out the truth about his parentage? Will he find happiness with the woman he loves? Will he ever be free from Margaret Lennox?

So this is the final book in the Lymond story and I have to say it is the perfect finale to possibly the best historical fiction ever written. The covers for the Lymond books on my Kindle are abstract and boring but some of the older editions have a more romantic theme which always seemed to be a little misplaced. But there is a strong undercurrent of romance and angst throughout Checkmate that would explain why I have sometimes seen these books referred to as historical romance.

Lymond loves Phillipa and Phillipa loves Lymond and they are legally married. But Lymond, supported by almost everyone in his world with one exception, is determined that Phillipa will marry someone more suitable like Austin Grey. Poor Phillipa, even when she realises Lymond loves her too, she still cannot have her man, because he will not stay married to her. This has to be the most original barrier to true love in a book.

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The Ringed Castle by Dorothy Dunnett- Book review

The fifth instalment in the Lymond Chronicles has a restrained Lymond trying to influence change in Russia, in The Ringed Castle, historical fiction by Dorothy Dunnett.

Genre: Historical Fiction

Series: The Lymond Chronicles ( Review my series review here)

Lymond escapes to Russia with Guzel after the tragic chess game in Pawn Of Frankincense. Lymond and Guzel want to influence the Tsar in dragging Russia into modern times. Unfortunately, no matter how much he tries, Lymond can’t escape the people he left behind in England and Scotland, both family and foe, and finds his life in danger in the depths of Russia.

 Book Review

“Not to every young girl is it given to enter the harem of the Sultan of Turkey and return to her homeland a virgin.”

I have to make a confession- this is not one of my favourite books. I’m not sure why- it has everything I have come to expect from Dorothy Dunnett. Perhaps, this would be true of any book that comes after Pawn in Frankincense. But when I read this again recently, I found there is so much to like yet it remains my least favourite book in the series.

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Pawn in Frankincense by Dorothy Dunnett – Book review

Dorothy Dunnett knew how to keep her readers on edge. That chess game still gives me me goosebumps despite having read Pawn in Frankincense before.

Series Lymond chronicles ( review here)

This review may reference details from the previous book.

This book follows on from the climax of The Disorderly Knights where Graham Mallett reveals that he has Lymond’s son by Oonagh stashed away in return for Graham’s ongoing survival. Lymond travels to the Ottoman empire to find his son while acting as a French ambassador but has numerous obstacles to face including a chess game that will not only seal his fate but also the people he cares about.

Review

This is a hard book to feel ambivalent about. Now many how many times I read Pawn in Frankincense I still feel caught out by the sheer audacity of Dorothy’s writing. Lymond is caught out by the death of someone important to him, in the first quarter of the book, in a scene that still gives me nightmares.

I have seen the Lymond chronicles described as a medieval James Bond and in this book, I can see why. The action never stops from the pursuit at the start of the book to the fight against Graham in the Maltese sea to the chess game at the end. As always, Dunnett’s prose brings these scenes to life in a way very few authors can.

The story races along in the Ottoman empire filled with the dervish, mystic women, a tribe of young people preaching love, horse chases, harems, and of course chess. Despite the action, melodrama, tragedy  there is still an underlying sly humour.

And that chess game!

If you haven’t read Pawn in Frankincense be prepared for one of the most harrowing chess games ever written- Dunnett keeps piling on the tendsion move by move till the utterly devasting end.

Lymond

“I have learned,’ said Lymond, ‘that kindness without love is no kindness.”

Lymond changes from a larger than life and flamboyant person to someone more introspective and vulnerable. He puts other’s safety and needs ahead as seen by his actions with the Aga in Dherba. This is the first book where Lymond has no contact with his family and to me the absence of Sybilla and Richard’s support is evident.

By the end of Pawn in Frankincense, Lymond is not the same person he was in The Game of Kings. Lymond is tired,defeated,vulnerable and needs help from the people around him to keep him standing.

People obsessed with Lymond

“Don’t you think they would all have been happier if Francis Crawford had never existed?”

As always, people make it their life’s purpose to influence and control Lymond. Graham continues to pull his strings from a distance. Graham continues to toy with Lymond in ever more sadistic ways and by the end of the book, Graham may have succeeded in breaking Lymond in a way no else could.

Dame de Doubtance, a woman first introduced in Queen’s play and seemed to know more than she should about Lymond plays an important part in sending Phillipa down a certain path. She makes several prophecies that do come to pass and what stake does she have in Francis’s life.

Women in Pawn and Frankincense

“I do admire efficiency,’ said Marthe. ‘But how tedious it can be in excess.”

Phillipa transforms from a gawky girl to a self-assured, cultured seventeen year who can handle herself in any situation.

Marthe, the almost female equivalent of Lymond in both her looks and manner, makes her appearance in this book and almost immediately seem to torment Lymond and poor Jerrot. Marthe is a woman ahead of her times and her potential is limited by the restrictions placed on women which could explain her cold personality.  

Kiaya de Khatun, the mistress of Drais Ragut and friend of Roxanna the Sultan’s wife is another intriguing strong woman who can be influential in a world where women are hidden away.

How is he still standing? ( the Lymond Body Health Count )

In this book he survives a near-drowning, wound to the shoulder, opium withdrawal and being beaten unconscious- a little less than previous books!

Ongoing Arc

We finally find out Lymond’s age and it comes as a shock as to how young he is. His age puts his behaviour in previous books into context but also the reason why he and his family were cagey about this being known. But it does make the attention he has received in the past few books including Graham’s (some with sexual undertones) a little more disturbing.

The mystery about Lymond’s parentage comes to the fore here with the introduction of the mysterious Marthe.

Content warning

Use of an outdated racist term, child abuse, descriptions of drug withdrawal, sexual coercion, references to suicide.

Summary

An emotionally draining read but in my opinion the best book in the series.

The Disorderly Knights by Dorothy Dunnett- book review/discussion

Has Lymond met his match in, The Disorderly Knights, the third instalment of possibly the best historical series ever, The Lymond Chronicles, by Dorothy Dunnett?

Series: Lymond Chronicles

This remains one of my favourite opening lines :

On the day that his grannie was killed by the English, Sir William Scott. The Younger Buccleuch was at Melrose Abbey, marrying his aunt.

Disorderly Knights,Dorothy Dunnett

Please note that there may be spoilers in this review for the first two books and also for this one despite desperately trying to avoid them.

Lymond is persuaded to go to Malta to observe the Knights of Hospitallers and defend the island from the Turkish army. In Malta, he meets Graham Reid Malett, a charismatic knight and finds himself embroiled in a leadership challenge, rescue missions and fighting off the Turkish army. And this is just the first half of the book!

 In the second half, Lymond returns to Scotland, meets Graham’s beautiful sister Joleta and forms a private army all the while battling a worthy foe.

As always, the book has plenty of drama, intrigue, action and humour with Dorothy Dunnett’s amazing prose bringing these scenes to life. The battles and life in Malta are vividly described but have to admit,I found the scene of Lymond asking for his friends and family help the most nerve-wracking of them all.

Lymond may have finally met his match with Graham Reid Malett. Graham and Lymond are similar in appearance with blonde hair and blue eyes ( but not the yellow hair and deep blue that is associated with Sybilla and Lymond). They are both skilled speakers, fighters and leaders but one is better than the other.

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First Line Fridays

First Lines Fridays is a weekly feature for book lovers hosted by Wandering Words. What if instead of judging a book by its cover, its author or its prestige, we judged it by its opening lines?

Pick a book off your shelf (it could be your current read or on your TBR) and open to the first page.

Copy the first few lines, but don’t give anything else about the book away just yet – you need to hook the reader first.

Finally… reveal the book!

First line

On the day that his grannie was killed by the English, Sir William Scott. The Younger Buccleuch was at Melrose Abbey, marrying his aunt.

Any ideas ?

Reveal

Disorderly Knights by Dorothy Dunnett

Book 3 of the Lymond Chronicles

Genre: Historical fiction.

From Goodreads

The third volume in The Lymond Chronicles, the highly renowned series of historical novels by Dorothy Dunnett, Disorderly Knights takes place in 1551, when Francis Crawford of Lymond is dispatched to embattled Malta, to assist the Knights of Hospitallers in defending the island against the Turks. But shortly the swordsman and scholar discovers that the greatest threat to the Knights lies within their own ranks, where various factions vie secretly for master. (less)

I think the blurb isn’t half as interesting as that opening line!

Did you guess?

Queens’ Play by Dorothy Dunnett- Book review and Discussion

I always forget how much I enjoy reading Queens’ Play, the second book in the Lymond Chronicles by Dorothy Dunnett. Lymond infiltrates King Henri’s French court to protect the Queen Mary of Scots.

#DorothyDunett # Book review

Genre :Historical Fiction

Series : The Lymond Chronicles ( review here)

image form Amazon

Review

“It was one of the occasions when Lymond asleep wrecked the peace of mind of more people than Lymond awake.”

― Dorothy Dunnett, Queens’ Play

The second book in Lymond Chronicles follows the Game of Kings where Lymond has been redeemed. Mary of Guise wants his remarkable mind to work for her and would do anything to have him commit to her cause. Lymond agrees to spy for her in the French court but on his own unique terms and discovers that the Young Queen Mary of Scots life is in danger. Lymond takes on another identity to infiltrate the French court but finds his life in peril from the start yet still charms his way into the inner circle and the bedrooms of the women ( and possibly men) of the Royal Court.

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The Game of Kings, Book one of the Lymond Chronicles by Dorothy Dunnett- Book review and discussion

What can be better than reading Game of Kings by Dorothy Dunnett in Stirling? Read my review of the first book in the Lymond Chronicles.

Series review here.

Review

“I despised men who accepted their fate. I shaped mine twenty times and had it broken twenty times in my hands.”

The Game of Kings,Dorothy Dunnett

I have seen the first book of the Lymond chronicles compared to the Game of Thrones and it is easy to see why but The Game of Kings is so much more- you just have to get the first few chapters to get there. I gave up after the third chapter and only picked the book up again when I literally had nothing else on hand to read but so glad I did.

The story is set in a turbulent time in English and Scottish history- the decade before Elizabeth and Mary take up their thrones. Francis Lymond, the Master of Culter, the disgraced, second son of a noble family and traitor has returned to his homeland of Scotland and is on a mission.

Even though Lymond is the hero or more accurately anti-hero, we never read the book from his perspective but we learn about him through the eyes of the people around him and as their perception changes, so does ours. The author does this so well that I didn’t realise that I hadn’t read a single direct thought of Francis till the end of the book. Lymond almost seems too good to be true- good looking, a skilled fighter and leader, clever, fluent in many languages but we share his brother’s, friends’, allies’ and enemies’ frustration as Lymond is a hard person to like especially at the start of the book. His motives are murky and he knows how to use his charm and sensuality to achieve his goals, for example, poor Will, what was he expecting when he followed Lymond up the stairs in that Inn.

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