The Game of Kings Audible –

I Despised Men Who Accepted Their Fate I Shaped Mine Twenty Times And Had It Broken Twenty Times In My Hands It Is And, After Five Years Imprisonment And Exile Far From His Homeland, Francis Crawford Of Lymond Scholar, Soldier, Rebel, Nobleman, Outlaw Has At Last Come Back To EdinburghBut For Many In An Already Divided Scotland, Where Conspiracies Swarm Around The Infant Queen Mary Like Clouds Of Midges, He Is Not WelcomeLymond Is Wanted For Treason And Murder, And He Is Accompanied By A Band Of Killers And Ruffians Who Will Only Bring Further Violence And StrifeIs He Back To Foment Rebellion Does He Seek Revenge On Those Who Banished Him Or Has He Returned To Clear His Name No One But The Enigmatic Lymond Himself Knows The Truth And No One Will Discover It Until He Is Ready A Storyteller Who Could Teach Scheherazade A Thing Or Two About Pace, Suspense And Imaginative Invention New York Times Melodrama Of The Most Magnificent Kind The Guardian

10 thoughts on “The Game of Kings

  1. says:

    Attention Please ignore the word romance in the goodreads description I would argue that classification.I spent years trying to get anyone I knew to read this book just so I could talk about it with someone other than myself I ve even given it as a gift half a dozen times or so Useless They all whine it s too hard to follow with the classical references, obscure poetry, and French quotes I say the story stands on its own without the reader being as well read as dear Dorothy Or you could look it up and learn something They groan Lazy readers.So I ve either just given the least persuasive book review ever or I ve challenged you It makes no difference to me I ve stopped recommending it It s one of my very favorite books and if you never read it that s fine I ll just go in the other room and laugh to myself about Mungo s pig When you follow and ask what I m laughing about I ll say Oh nothing You wouldn t understand.

  2. says:

    I despised men who accepted their fate I shaped mine twenty times and had it broken twenty times in my hands Bold words from a bold man Francis Crawford of Lymond has been accused of the most nefarious things deceit, treachery, rape, drunkenness, murder,and just so he will for sure hangtreason He has the same problem as Prince Harry of Wales does today He is the spare son, the second son The one that will have to make his own way while the grand Crawford estate goes to his older brother Richard Dumbarton Castle, ScotlandWomen are swept up under the sway of his seductive powers Men want to be him or kill him He makes it impossible for anyone to remain neutral in their regard for him His tongue is as sharp as a rapier and his reticence about not sharing plans has even his most stout allies tearing their hair out in frustration He is an accomplished polyglot and a master of disguise He is a force of nature creating havoc for the ever shifting alliances between the Scots and the English He does not join a side, does not trust any organization enough to actually call himself a member nice to know I m not the only one with this affliction In 1547 Scotland he is a Renaissance Man and that does create it s own problems Versatility is one of the few human traits which are universally intolerable You may be good at Greek and good at painting and be popular You may be good at Greek and good at sport, and be wildly popular But try all three and you re a mountebank, Nothing arouses suspicion quicker than genuine, all round proficiency When his sister in law first meets Lymond, under rather awkward circumstances He was looting her house of silver at the time She can tell this brother has different stripes than her husband So this was Richard s brother Every line of him spoke, palimpsestwise, with two voices The clothes, black and rich, were vaguely slovenly the skin sun glazed and cracked the fine eyes slackly lidded the mouth insolent and self indulgent He returned the scrutiny without rancour What had you expected A viper, or a devil, or a ravening idiot Milo with the ox on his shoulders, Angra Mainyo prepared to do battle with Zoroaster, or the Golden Ass OR didn t you know the family colouring Richard hasn t got it Poor Richard is merely Brown and fit to break bread with Milo with his OxNow you may have noted several classical references in that bit of repartee Throughout the book Dunnett shows her range of reading and her understanding of classical literature Look what we ve got Orpheus wriggling rump first out of Hades with his chivalry ashine like a ten thread twill It could make a reader ME feel self conscious about my own inadequate reading resume One of my favorite characters was a blind woman named Lady Christian Stewart who despite her affliction is brave and brilliant proving than a match for Lymond in a battle of wits To be sure, said Christian serenely And painting with breath is my stock in trade you d forgotten that, hadn t you I m an architect in lexicography I can build you a palace of adverbs and a hermitage of personal pronouns As the plot slithers around and the mystery surrounding Lymond s innocence or guilt becomes convoluted, key characters die at untimely moments, and shifting alliance change people s perspective of events The tension mounts as we are driven towards a final showdown between brothers, and a game of cards determines whether Lymond will swing or be welcomed back into the arms of his family The book is set against the backdrop of an English invasion of Scotland with Mary Queen of Scots a mere tot and incapable of providing commanding leadership Men like Lymond have to stand up and do than their share to insure that there remains a kingdom to be commanded Dunnett deftly weaves fictional characters in with real life personages giving us an authentic feel for this turbulent time in Scottish History In the next book in the series Lymond follows Mary Queen of Scots to France to insure her safety I wouldn t miss it for anything.If you wish to see of my most recent book and movie reviews, visit also have a Facebook blogger page at

  3. says:

    1.99 Kindle sale, June 23, 2019 If you ever feel like you need a REALLY mentally challenging novel, I have the solution right here Game of Kings, first published in 1961, is an intricate, well plotted tale of the conflict between England and Scotland in 1547, when Mary Queen of Scots is a very young child, and the machinations of the various players in that conflict, especially Francis Crawford, called Lymond Lymond is a young man, exiled from Scotland for treason, who has now snuck back into the country and is busy making waves and causing trouble, for reasons that gradually are revealed Dorothy Dunnett uses chess terms as chapter titles and Middle English quotes about chess at the start of most chapters, and really this book is very much like one massive chess game, played by a master player.Parts of Game of Kings were completely fascinating I always enjoy reading about a person who has their own mysterious agenda, which they follow to the end while everyone around them sees only their small piece of the puzzle This book is very well written, and a lot of the scenes really came to life for me The last couple of hundred pages kept me up until past 1 30 am reading, since I couldn t put the book down unfinished.But and this is a fairly large but any book that reminds me of reading Ulysses in college, I m going to have some issues with Lymond is a brilliant scholar as well as an athlete and musician, and excellent swordsman and archer, and well, I m not sure there s anything he doesn t do well Except not be an asshole So aside from being a bit of a Gary Stu, which I have absolutely no issues with when the book is good enough, Lymond is given to dialogue that includes various quotes in French or Latin which Dunnett never bothers translating for you and obscure literary references that may have been familiar to well read people back in the 16th century but certainly aren t well known now I was an English major in college, and most of this stuff I did not get AT ALL Here s a sample Lymond quote and no, this is not atypical Don t you think it s time my family shared in my misfortunes, as Christians should Then, vice is so costly May dew or none, my brown and tender diamonds don t engender, they dissolve Immoderation, Mariotta, is a thief of money and intestinal joy, but who d check it Here I am, weeping soft tears of myrrh, to prove it I rest my case I also had a challenge following the political maneuvering and battles, although that may not be a problem for historically savvy readers.Several people told me that you just need to let the parts that you don t understand roll over you Ignore them and just go on, was their advice And yes, that worked pretty well, but still, any book written as late as 1961 that needs to and does have several guidebooks written about it to help readers get all the in jokes and obscure quotes and references, maybe has a bit too much going on for its own good.I should be fair and add that most people in the book talk like normal people Even Lymond, when he s not trying to be mysterious or evasive, can use plain speech And if you re willing to take on or overlook the difficult parts, there is so much in this book to love Lymond s adventures, as well as his problematic relationships with his brother his second in command, Will Scott a blind woman, Christian Stewart and others make for incredible, sometimes humorous and often very exciting reading So, marvelous book, but minus a star for being a little too obscure and difficult and making me all irritated and surly for the first 100 pages, until I just got over it One of these times I m going to reread it, and maybe my rating will go up then.Thanks so much to Marquise for the buddy read ETA Queens Play, the second book in this series, is much easier to read though still challenging and incredibly gripping and rewarding So if you gave up on Dunnett after Game of Kings, I encourage you to give the second one a shot.

  4. says:

    In the hands of a less skilled writer, this could have been a real page turner The Game of Kings has all the ingredients to make it an irresistible read a romantic, handsome, complex hero, an exciting historical setting and era, family drama and politics, well researched details and vivid descriptions, intrigue and mystery.But like the hero, Lymond, the novel itself is in turns brilliant and frustrating Scotland, 1547 Diplomacy having failed, England has used force to bring Scotland into an alliance After five years in exile, Francis Crawford of Lymond returns to his homeland, a defiant Scotland Scotland, barren and beautiful Lymond is back Lymond is in Scotland Lymond We know all about Lymond Rieving and ruttery and all manner of vice And treason Why has Lymond, an outlawed rebel returned Is he come to wreak havoc with his band of outlaws And what of the uneasy relationship with his older brother, Richard Or has he other, deeper motives for his return Edinburgh, 16th century And, long since ashore with his men and his booty, Crawford of Lymond, man of wit and crooked felicities, bred to luxury and heir to a fortune, rode off serenely to Midculter to break into his new sister in law s castle.And so begins The Game of Kings. Battle of Pinkie CleughSome years ago after I met and fell madly, deliriously and irrevocably in love with Jamie Fraser and the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon, it was suggested that I go on and read The Lymond Chronicles, and that I would again fall madly, deliriously and irrevocably in love with one, Francis Crawford of Lymond.Lymond is a true Renaissance man He can be anything, and do everything Musician, swordsman, master strategist, man of breeding and education, accomplished linguist, actor, lover, patriot Man of mystery, gifted with intelligence and good looks And with the most amazing head for recalling obscure text and poems in any number of languages at just the right moment.On the plus side, The Game of Kings is complex, layered and brilliantly researched However, it is so often mired in French, Latin, Spanish and archaic English poems and texts with no translations, that it becomes a chore Lymond, our hero, is the worst offender I am a narwhal looking for my virgin I have sucked up the sea like Charybdis and failing other entertainment will spew it three times daily, for a fee Tell me again, precisely, what you have just said about Mungo Tennant Forget about Mungo, tell me precisely, what you have just said, Lymond.Though sometimes categorised as historical romance, it isn t This first book is not even romantic historical fiction The first third to half of this book is like wading through molasses in winter It does pick up after that There s a method to Lymond s madness If you can stick with it, it does finally pay off But the road to get there is often bumpy, difficult to traverse, with occasional glimmers of brilliance that help propel the reader forward Mired in minutiae, it s hard to see the big picture here.Dorothy Dunnett is a master storyteller, and an exquisite wordsmith A classical education, perhaps even a master s degree in English Literature and a facility with a number of languages notwithstanding, a reader is not going to fully understand or appreciate this Let s be honest here, you re not really going to enjoy it completely either, if you can only understand a half or two thirds of it I wish to God, said Gideon, with mild exasperation, that you d talk just once in prose like other people So say we all This is not an easy, accessible read by any means However, there are scenes and lines that are bursts of brilliance Here, Lymond is laying down the law to his band of outlaws Disobey me in action or in spirit, gentleman, and you ll stay alive much longer than you want to Absolute silence.And this, when Lymond is posing as a palm reader although the lady knows who he is Firmly, her wrist was taken, and the fingers spread out A fine, capable hand Line of life hullo You appear to have died at the age of seven The embalmers are exceedingly skilful nowadays, she said gravely.While it s safe to say Ms Dunnett was a literary genius, I also think it s safe to say that only a handful of readers might be able to fully appreciate The Game of Kings. For first time readers, here s a hint just read it avoiding the untranslated texts, gloss over the rhymes and riddles of Lymond, and you might end up enjoying it However, to fully appreciate this novel and series it needs to be studied. On a second or third read, buy the guide and companions, join discussion forums, and peel back the layers of Lymond.There is a lot to enjoy but quite frankly teasing out these pockets of bliss from amongst the other stuff is work For some readers, it s not going to be worth it All in all, The Game of Kings is a very uneven read for me When a good quarter or a third, is totally unintelligible and seems to be there purely as a gilt edged frame to highlight the author s masterpiece which it isin places , I can t give a novel 5, or even 4 stars.However, I enjoyed The Game of Kings enough to continue the series Thanks, Searock for the buddy read and suggesting another read of this classic

  5. says:

    This book, and how I feeeeeel about this book They demand flights of eloquence and rhetorical brilliance that I just don t have right now Or probably ever, if I m honest, not for this.It s only the second time I ve read this cover to cover But pieces of this book are graven into me Particular turns of phrase from scenes I ve read over again I despised men who accepted their fate I shaped mine twenty times and had it broken twenty times in my hands And fundamental things I remembered the fact of Lymond s speech about patriotism, but not it s chilling, blazing content Yet when I got to it again, it rang my whole brain like a bell because it turns out I did remember, I just remembered so far down it felt like it came from me.It s a book with speeches, let me just repeat that.Okay, some actual content This is Scotland, 1547, conflict sparking with England, France circling It s a story of nations, but mostly it s about the lost son coming home, about his brother s marriage bending and bending until the cracks show, it s about his extraordinary mother, and their friends, and a long, awful, painful coming in from the cold I love them all so much I am helpless about it This is a ridiculous, absurd book where the main character is incomprehensible 75% of the time if you don t have a Ph.D in sixteenth century literature, and you don t have the faintest idea what anything means for about 500 pages, and I love it as passionately and unreservedly as all its excesses demand It s about the flaw, the break, the shattering, and building strength from personal anialation And in the last, a humanitarianism so strong, it feels brutal.Nope, definitely don t have it in me.

  6. says:

    Six stars out of five for Dorothy Dunnett She s in class of her own when it comes to historical fiction and, while I continue to enjoy the epics told by Bernard Cornwell or Patrick O Brian the ones I m currently in the middle of , I have to admit that in a celebrity deathmatch they would come second place to the Lymond Niccolo series Fans of the author tend towards unbridled enthusiasm witness the 4,42 median rating here on Goodreads the highest I ve come across so far, and the international conventions meeting in places of import from the books So what is the secret of this amazing popularity, seeing as the number of votes is relatively low I could point out to the erudition and the word plays that rival Umberto Eco, to the wild swashbuckling adventures that surpass even Alexandre Dumas, to the intricate puzzles and whodunnit investigations that pay tribute to Arthur Conan Doyle or Agatha Christie, the grand vision, panoramic scope that challenge Gone with the Wind and War and Peace, and last but not least the wild, absurd, disruptive sense of humour that reminds me of the best of Blackadder or Monty Python We need to uthe thronger perthuathion The men below are obviouthly in colluthion too Lord Grey channeling Michael Palin as Pontius Pilates All these aspects are part of the attraction, but I believe above and beyond the technical skills and the richness of the setting, the books of Dorothy Dunnet are about passion for history, for the people that made history and for living life to the full Wikipedia mentions that the inception of the Lymond Chronicles came when Dunnett complained to her husband that she has run out of things to read, and he suggested she should write her own Thus we are reading the kind of tale a voracious reader wrote for her own enjoyment, and we tag along with googly eyes and mouths open in wonder As for the low number of votes the books were written five decades ago, so they lack the exposure of newcomers on the scene They are also too big for impulse buyers and too complex to be included in a school curriculum maybe at university level These factors combine to keep away the casual browser of library shelves, but attract the dedicated readers of history and the ones who prefer sprawling, immersive adventures And once you pass the initial reluctance to invest time and effort in 13 books you end up under Dunnett spell I wished to explore, within several books, the nature and experiences of a classical hero a gifted leader whose star crossed career, disturbing, hilarious, dangerous, I could follow in finest detail for ten years And I wished to set him in the age of the Renaissance Enters Francis Crawford of Lymond, younger son of the Coulter family The year is 1547 and Scotland is like a lark surrounded by crocodiles After a series of disastrous military campaigns, most of the nobles are either dead, prisoners across the Border or secretly in the pay of the English who claim the hand of the six year old Queen Mary in marriage to their own infant heir to the throne At the start of the novel Francis is an outlaw, hunted across the realm for betraying his side to the English, and at the most basic level the plot can be resumed as the struggle of Francis to clear his name and discover who and how he was framed Complicating the issue is the deadly rivalry between Francis and his older brother, the heir to the Coulter castle and lands, his responsibility in the death of their beloved sister, a budding romance with a blind heiress and a disfunctional relationship with young and idealistic Will Scott, who wants to become an apprentice to the charysmatic outlaw leader The Game of Kings reflects the battle for Scottish sovereignity through the language and tactics of chess The analogy is deeply embedded at all the levels of the story from the opening moves of Lymond stealing his mother s jewels, burning the family castle and flirting with his brother s wife, to his game of cat and mouse playing both sides against each other and stealing equally from the British and from the Scots, to the relative role of each piece on the board passive kings and queens, fiery knights, besieged towers, wild horse runs or bishops betrayals The rybauldes, players of dyce And the messangers and corrours ought to be sette tofore the rook For hit apperteyneth to the rook to have men convenable for to renne here and there for tenquire and espie the place and cyties that myght be contrarye to the kynge Each chapter is prefaced by a reference to the game, written in old English and usually related to the current developments in the plot As a side note, don t get unnerved by the apparent obscurity of these introductions the rest of the novel is written in plain English, or what Dunnett considers plain English in the context of the Renaissance authentic Scots idiom seasoned with Latin, French, Italian, occassional German, Dutch and Spanish, verses from popular ballads and court poets, references to mythology and the equivalent of XVI century pop culture It comes as no surprise that the Lymond Nicollo Chronicles have spawned a two volume hefty companion book that references and translates and comments on all the trivia and all the research included in the original books I am lucky to be familiar with the major European languages and with several modern Scottish authors, and to have the patience and the drive to solve compose crossword puzzles, but even so I could not claim to have caught every nuance and every reference here There s just too damn many of them, every time a character opens his her mouth, especially Lymond But I had no problem following the gist of the conversations and the subtle putdowns or barbed arrows of irony The book practically begs for a re read, both for spotting the later developments as they are first introduced Lymond is always thinking and responding to his adversaries with several moves ahead of the game, like a true chess grandmaster and for taking a breather from the frantic pacing and spend some leisure time with Wikipedia and with the adnotated reference books, savouring the obscure points of the text.Coming back to Francis Lymond, the hero of the epic, I can understand but I cannot subscribe to the theory that he is a Gary Stu, unrealistic, uberpowerful and infallible Yes, he is super smart, good looking, proficient with bow and sword, well read and a musical prodigy, but he is not supposed to be an ordinary Joe or a farmboy with a secret identity and a prophecy to fulfill, he is a Renaissance man, a natural born leader, a hero of his time period Most of his talents can be explained by the fact that he is a second son, who inherits nothing and who has the pressing incentive to make his own place in the world, and by the circumstances forced on him warrior, prisoner, galley slave, outlaw leader, spy, etc In addition to his talents, there is the way Dunnett is treating him, like a bar of iron that is heated and re heated in the fire of adversity and then moulded into shape with sledgehammers until the sword is sharp and deadly This peculiar mental agility of yours has been no friend to you, has it Without it, you might have survived, harmless, in a lukewarm limbo of drink and drugs and insipid women He is an actor who struggles to give up his mask and change the role Fate and the lords of the land have written for him, he tries to do right by his followers and by his friends, but often than not the results are hurtful to guilty and innocents alike He makes mistakes, big ones, in keeping with his big struggles He learns painfully that a leader is responsible for the lives of the peolpe he involves in his plans and for the unforeseen consequences of his actions And now where are we It s difficult, isn t it, to know whom to trust Fide et diffide, in fact and that is the moral of this little story Be mistrustful, and you will live happy and die hated and be much useful to me in between In a great supporting role is Will Scott, who wants to learn from Lymond how to lead, how to be free of family and patriotic bligations, how to control his own life Where Francis is practical and cynical, Will is idealistic and impulse driven He is easily manipulated because he doesn t follow through the moves of the chess game far enough into the future Next is Richard Coulter, blinded in his turn by his passions, by hatred as strong as his former love of his brother Insufficient or false knowledge drive both Will and Richard to pit themselves against Francis and his plans in a struggle that sees a new twist and reversal of fortunes every other page Apparences are misleading and than one killer may be interested in putting Francis Lymond out of the game I could pick any of the major themes of the novel Patriotism is a fine hothouse for maggots It breeds intolerance , family relations, youth versus experience, law versus freedom for a indepth analysis, but I would like to pause for a moment on the way Dunnett treated gender roles in the novel While men have the lion s share of the action and women are generally relegated to passive roles as childbearers and household managers, the end result is refreshingly well balanced with the ladies than holding their own in the unravelling of the mysteries and as adept in working from the shadows as the men are at swinging their axes and swords Stately clan matron Sybilla Coulter, fiery Irish wife Mariotta Coulter, no nonsense Lady Buccleuth, romantically challenged thirteen year old heiress Agnes Herries, malefic Margaret Douglas countess of Lennox, reliable and sensible Christian Stewart they usually surpass their men in wit and fortitude I particularly like the way Dunnett moulded her militant feminism to the social strictures of the period and didn t try to endow her heroines with modern sensibilities There is friction and misunderstanding between the genders, but there are also open channels of communication and the promise of a path together, side by side into the future As George Douglas responds to Agnes Herries on the lack of romance in arranged marriages It s pretty well a full time job, these days, keeping a family housed and clothed and warm and protected Doesn t leave much time for poetry under the apple trees But chivalry hasn t gone don t think it You ll even find it paramount still with some people, but a trifle the worse for wear, because it s not the best protection against an aggressive and materialistic world I ve run out of bookmarks, and I still feel that I only touched on the surface of the story, that I didn t stress enough how wildly entertaining and how intellectually stimulating the journey was I ve actually put off writing the review for a couple of months, hoping for inspiration to match the enthusiasm I felt reading it, but as I m already halfway through book three of Lymond I was in danger of falling too far behind to ever reach closure Maybe I ll rewrite when I get around to reading the books again, this time back to back with the house of Niccolo, to see how they are related Until then, I ll leave you with these rambling notes.

  7. says:

    In order to clarify the situation with regard to said novel, let me first rehash what the two sides of the discussion have been saying Side What the fuck is this It s obscure Every time Lymond opens his mouth, I want to smack his face and make him eat his weird ancient references Side This book is brilliant Well if you were less lazy, now That s classics for you, lads You have to work a little to discover the gem Me chokes Now let s deconstruct something together, okay No classic needs to be obscure Many aren t That was fast, wasn t it What, not convinced Alright What is the similarity between say, The Red and the Black, The Three Musketeers by the way, I saw readers comparing The Game of Kings with this one and please, don t even , Anna Karenina, Stello and Les Mis rables They re classics, but they re utterly readable One does not need a textbook to understand every fucking page, and you know what It doesn t mean they re average because the masses can understand them I genuinely saw people referring to the masses in reviews today are you guys for real , no It means that their authors are master of storytelling, and do not feel the need to drown their readers in ludicrous and useless literary references to get their point across Is it possible to go beyond their first glance easiness and extract well hidden references with the help of some sharp expertise Hell yes, or my five years in Uni would have been useless, and I can t have that Yet first and foremost, they are stories, and the weight of references never becomes a burden the reader has to bear in order to unravel the layers and get to the fucking story Hence why I whole heartedly disagree with any reader who would stamp his contempt upon me and from the great height of his pretension, dismiss me the right to call myself an intelligent reader because no, I have no intention to waste my time on Google when I should be reading, thank you very much I realized I should stop trying when the French jokes made me readjust what exactly people referred as jokes Look, I am French I understand French I am not quite bad at Latin, and I can decipher Spanish sentences if they are written and aren t too many At no moment did it change a thing It s not the language I don t understand, it s the purpose I abhor I do not care about so called winks and I do not believe that needing a textbook to be understood reflects some kind of superiority The Game of Kings reeks of pretension and everything I despise in Literary circles Even if I could ignore my annoyance and follow the story which I could, it didn t bode well for my love for the main character, Lymond I am sorry Any man who declaims obscure French quotes while fighting annihilates any interest I could have felt for him.The guy s a Gary Stu of epic proportions there s literally nothing he cannot do who loves nothing than hearing himself talk, and I m supposed to swoon Ugh, nope And given that he is the heart of the story, excuse me if I m slowly disengaging from this mess Therefore, I shall leave you all on this by all means, entertain yourselves, but do not come at me and at other readers for being too lazy and not clever enough Fuck this rhetoric, and please give this French proverb a thought Un point fait temps en pargne cent. Dorothy Dunnett, for all her outstanding education, forgot that I m sure there is a splendid story hidden somewhere in the clusterfuck that is this book however, I do not think it s worth wasting my time And for all the literary warriors out there Ab imo pectore, fuck off For of my reviews, please visit

  8. says:

    Doubleday Vintage Anchor has reprinted the Lymond Chronicles series with gorgeous new covers in paperback form I loved my first adventures with Lymond Francis Crawford of Lymond stands accused of many crimes, including deceit, drunkenness, murder, and treason It s 1547 when he returns to his native Scotland, just as it is threatened by an English invasion Lymond leads a group of outlaws and dissidents to defend his land, as well as his name Lymond is the second son, and second in line for any inheritance Classical literature references abound, always testing me and adding fun when I actually knew one Characters also abound, and we are on pins and needles as we wait to find out if Lymond is guilty or innocent Lymond is in a fight to end all fights with his brother, and the outcome will determine if Lymond dies or is welcomed back into the fold of his family Mary Queen of Scots is here, too, but too young to truly lead, which is why Lymond and men like him have to join up and join in to make sure Scotland remains a kingdom There are true to history characters mixed in with fictional ones Lymond is a main character to champion complex, foolhardy, passionate, clever, impressive The writing is rich and intricately detailed and is rather sumptuous overall I m so grateful there is a series to continue on with because I can t wait to read Lymond s next adventure, where he escorts Mary Queen of Scots to France I m so grateful this book and series was put on my radar because I have lots of adventure ahead of me I received a complimentary copy All opinions are my own My reviews can also be found on my blog

  9. says:

    A massive BR with Alex, Amanda and great people in fab group for reading Dorothy Dunnett books Sigh IDK what happened for sure The Game of Kings has all I need for the historical treat, interesting historical spices, naughty and evil main character, some action, peculiar writing Hmmas long as I read Riyria Revelations alongside it was ok, but when I ended up with Lymond and Lord Idiot Dragon Actually only, I felt that it was going to be a downfall for my reads After finishing Rise of Empire I couldn t get properly involved into reading The Game of Kings and it s bad, cause this book is really outstanding and it should keep me hooked without any additional help from Riyria or other books So I m putting this book on hold for some time Sorry guy I promise to stalk you for yummy updates on this book

  10. says:

    I ve never liked those books and TV shows in which the writers felt that the readers need to have it all spelt out for them for a variety of reasons, mainly the assumption that they will miss it otherwise And then I found Dorothy Dunnett and met the other extreme of the dumbing it down for the masses spectrum That I didn t like it either is evident, but my issue isn t that she employs language that most of humanity won t get It s what it does to the narrative.I won t include here a summary of the plot, there are excellent reviews out there that have done it better than I could instead I ll talk about my own impressions, not being experienced enough in reviewing to do much , and so I ll go point by point.THE PLOT The story starts interestingly enough, wrenching some laughter from the readers via Lymond s comical initial antics, and keeping the interest till the middle with a rapid succession of swashbuckling adventures that makes the delight of those of us that grew up crushing hard on d Artagnan, Edmond Dant s, and Percy Blakeney You begin to see in Francis Crawford of Lymond another potential classic hero to love You start to make conjectures about the genesis of his mystifying feud with his elder brother, you mull earnestly over your own hypotheses that would explain things ranging from why he doesn t kill his brother to why he seems to be courting his sister in law, you try to make sense of his mother s baffling sang froid towards two sons that aim to rip each other s throat, you laugh at Lymond s abduction of a certain lady and the way he outmanoeuvres his pursuers, you admire his pluck, his ruthlessness, his apparent flexible morality, his devil may care attitude in playing chess with humans that results in the death of an innocent woman By the time of the duel, you think you know as much as you can surmise from the obscure narrative who and what he is and what he may be doing or may have done.But then the last pages come The courtroom comes And it all goes down in a crash.The author that hadn t given a fig for whether her readers would or wouldn t grasp what she was saying and what the storyline was about, resorts to a literary resource that smells suspiciously of Agatha Christie, in my opinion We find out that, oh no, it wasn t precious Lymond after all, it was that weakling Dandy That s so, folks, the assassin was the butler all along, and with a stroke of the plume everything that had added some layers of greyness, of human fallibility and base demeanour is swept away from Lymond s sheet, which is left lily white clean And what s worse, it s not even Lymond who unveils it it s his mother There s a word for that trope character idealisation, or in plain slang, Mary Sue ness The courtroom wasn t an appropriate closure, it was anticlimactic With it, the reader s laborious mental work during the entirety of the book just doesn t pay off You were lost and buried under the avalanche of rhymes and preciousness, and didn t understand what the thing was about Don t worry, it will be explained, no, spelt out in detail, to you at the end during Lymond s trial Without his distracting rhyming for the most part and obtuse referencing, so you won t miss a thing Isn t it just wonderful all that worry that you were missing something was for naught, all that theorising and guessing was for naught, the author is telling you what happened, so the job is done for you This I can t forgive Dame Dorothy for One star is lost.THE CHARACTERISATION Although I tend to prefer deeply flawed men with scores of layers, men who aren t redeemed with a stroke of a magical plume and that know what they are, unapologetically so, yet still are likable because one dozen or two of their layers are relatable, very human, I can also love the conventionally perfect brand of literary heroes With a caveat that they must be believable There is where the characterisation of Lymond fails He isn t believable to me not only is he extremely capable at everything under the sun, which itself alone would be enough to cast a fake varnish over his character, but he s also physically impressive Sure, there were and are some extraordinary souls that can leave us mere mortals with our jaws hanging low in amazement But they also have their darker sides Which is Francis Hard to tell from the way Dunnett has described him He feels like an idealised Renaissance man raised exponentially to the Nth power a Leonardo da Vinci with the handsomeness of Leonardo DiCaprio and the luck of Lucifer His idiosyncratic speech doesn t help much either, but would ve been better taken in if not for Dunnett s decision to spread the same merry rhymin and recitin across several pages and characters, which brings me to the next point.THE LANGUAGE For many readers, language is the sole reason they can t persevere with this book, and a good reason this one is A very good one.Being a polyglot myself, I didn t have excessive trouble with the quotes in French and Spanish, and could comprehend the Latin quotations as well I was able to recognise the source of many of them from earlier readings of Spanish writers from the period and some Roman classics they aren t that unknown for a modern well read person as the Olde English ones The Middle English quotes gave me headaches because they were just too obscure I don t know if, were they from known period sources like, say, Shakespeare, a greater number of readers would ve gotten them, because he s accessible But that s not the case, the quotes she includes, without name of the source, aren t readily recognisable, which may be due to the fact that they re chess quotes, though not all of them are Because of that, and the fact that the quotes can be skipped with no loss, is why I said that my issue isn t the language itself as much as what it does to the narrative I m not sure I can explain this in a way that conveys exactly what I mean, but I ll try and hope you bear with me First things first, let s state the bare facts the quotations aren t restricted to chapter openings They are all over the place, everywhere Second Lymond can t speak without a quote thrown in to save his life Third And it s not only Lymond, other characters are afflicted with the Quotation Fever as well Now my point it s excessive If the literary references were for chapter openings or for reinforcing the chess imagery only, then very good If not that, then if the quotations were made to be a speech quirk of Lymond s only, it d be counted as a character trait, irritating or endearing depending on the reader s taste but no than that But he s not the only one that speaks like that, others do too, and that gives the impression of being in the company of actors, not of real people that existed at the time period The little foreign language lines are too distracting even if you don t read them, because they interrupt the flow of the dialogue and force you to either stop to try to understand it, or to skip them, so you read dialogue hop hopping from one English phrase to the next And though likely the Guides that were written to clarify these will disagree with me on this, I can say that a good number of them are just too random and don t really add to the narrative At times, it even reads like Dunnett was just showing off her scholarly knowledge there are lines that could support my point It s that sense of unreality brought in by that narrative style what I liked the least The period description and the historical accuracy may be splendid, but the characterisation, the language and Dunnett s storytelling left me with the sensation of watching a mummer s show instead of real people in real events, which I appreciate in historical fiction I felt like the characters were actors performing for an audience, they spoke like actors for an audience, and the events unfold just like in a scripted play in which the characters are the puppets moved by a master puppeteer, not events that unfold naturally and suffer the setbacks of chance and human nature Mummery, in sum, it felt like mummery.So, to conclude, the book loses another star on account of the last points, and is left with three only The book is enjoyable up to a certain extent, but definitely not for everyone __________________________________________REREAD UPDATE 18.01.2015I ll upgrade this book s rating to 5 stars this time round But I won t modify my initial reaction review even though I ve come to realise where I was wrong and corrected my opinion accordingly Yet I do think my 1st review should stay as a testament to how brilliant the author is and how she plays with readers emotions Besides, it will be proof that there s hope for the poor souls struggling with the 1st book so they don t give up Look at me, I persevered and the payoff was huge I love Lymond and I m almost indecently pleased that I changed my mind on this .There s no shame in being fooled by such a smart lady P