Das Königsspiel

Das Königsspiel Blog-Archiv

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Return to Book Page. Preview — Das Königsspiel by Dorothy Dunnett. Ein schillernder Roman aus der Welt der Renaissance.

Get A Copy. Paperback , pages. Published March by Rowohlt first published More Details Original Title.

The Lymond Chronicles 1. Other Editions Friend Reviews. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

To ask other readers questions about Das Königsspiel , please sign up. Hey, I read a bit about this book and it sounds right up my alley.

My only concern is that I don't like books with a lot of explicit adult content in them and it sounds like romance is a big part of this.

I don't mind romance, adultery or anything like that as long as it's not graphic. Could somebody let me know how much adult content is in this book please?

Bryn Clegg This is not a romance in the bodice-ripper sense of the word. I am also someone who stays away from books with too much content of a certain type, and that was not this one.

There is no attribution for the apparently old-English verses at the head of each chapter. What's up with them?

Dee The Lymond Chronicles--all six books-- are loosely seen by Dunnett as a series of chess moves.

Chess, being a strategic game of war, was traditionally …more The Lymond Chronicles--all six books-- are loosely seen by Dunnett as a series of chess moves.

Chess, being a strategic game of war, was traditionally played by kings and is commonly known as the game of kings.

The quotes do come from the book titled Game and Playe of the Chesse, by William Caxton, as explained below by Melanti.

See 2 questions about Das Königsspiel…. Lists with This Book. This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Community Reviews.

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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. I say the story stands on its own without the reader being as well-read as dear Dorothy.

Or you could l Attention: Please ignore the word romance in the goodreads description. 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. View all 88 comments. I shaped mine twenty times and had it broken twenty times in my hands.

Francis Crawford of Lymond has been accused of the most nefarious things: deceit, treachery, rape, drunkenness, murder,and just so he will for sure hang 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, Scotland Women 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.

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.

He was looting her house of silver at the time. She can tell this brother has different stripes than her husband. 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. 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?

Poor Richard is merely Brown and fit to break bread with Throughout the book Dunnett shows her range of reading and her understanding of classical literature.

Orpheus wriggling rump first out of Hades with his chivalry ashine like a ten-thread twill. One of my favorite characters was a blind woman named Lady Christian Stewart who despite her affliction is brave and brilliant proving more than a match for Lymond in a battle of wits.

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 more 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.

View all 27 comments. Game of Kings , first published in , is an intricate, well-plotted tale of the conflict between England and Scotland in , 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 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.

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.

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 also had a challenge following the political maneuvering and battles, although that may not be a problem for more 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 that needs to and does!

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 pages, until I just got over it.

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. View all 42 comments. 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, Diplomacy having failed, England has used force to bring Scotland into a 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.

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.

We know all about Lymond. 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? And so begins The Game of Kings. Battle of Pinkie Cleugh Some 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. 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.

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.

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.

This is not an easy, accessible read by any means. 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.

Line of life — hullo! You appear to have died at the age of seven. 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. 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 is However, I enjoyed The Game of Kings enough to continue the series.

View all 52 comments. This book, and how I feeeeeel about this book. But pieces of this book are graven into me.

I remembe This book, and how I feeeeeel about this book. 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.

Okay, some actual content. This is Scotland, , conflict sparking with England, France circling. I love them all so much I am helpless about it.

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. View all 4 comments. Six stars out of five for Dorothy Dunnett.

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 internati Six stars out of five for Dorothy Dunnett.

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. 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 more 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 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 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.

But I had no problem following the gist of the conversations and the more 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 more 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 more 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 more 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 more 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 more 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 more 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. View all 16 comments. 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.

No 'cl 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.

No 'classic' needs to be obscure. Many aren't. That was fast, wasn't it? What, not convinced? 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?

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 more 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'.

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 more of my reviews, please visit View all 23 comments.

Margaret I absolutely agree with this review. I did over a period of years read all the series,curiosity having overcome ny dislike of the "hero".

Still didn;t find him in the least believable. I fear that Ms Dunnett was writing too much of herself into Lymond. Another gripe was in a later book she plagiarised a complete story by Kurt Vonnegut-anyone else notice?

Josi I absolutely agree. I had to stop reading this book as I was tired of looking up the vague, antiquated phrases used in the book.

It made no sense to m I absolutely agree. It made no sense to me. I read for enjoyment and escapism Being a fan of Game of Kings—of any Dunnett novel—is a strange experience.

Dunnett makes no concessions to readers. You have to think about what you are reading. Plus, Dunnett is given to quotations in Renaissance French, Spanish, and Latin without the benefit of tran Being a fan of Game of Kings—of any Dunnett novel—is a strange experience.

Plus, Dunnett is given to quotations in Renaissance French, Spanish, and Latin without the benefit of translation which can also take you out of the flow And her hero frequently comes off as a terrible person, although he invariably has his reasons.

But if you are willing to do what the author demands, the thinking and the Latin Googling, and the adapting yourself to her style , what you get is a dazzling portrait of the High Renaissance, with an equally dazzling cast of characters at its heart.

In Game of Kings, the first book of the Lymond Chronicles, Francis Crawford of Lymond, disgraced younger son of a noble Scottish family, returns to Scotland, an outlaw, after a long absence.

With this background of turmoil, and at the head of a band of fellow outlaws, Francis will reunite with his estranged family, strike up a complex friendship with the heir to a great estate, and with his outlaws, interfere in the political workings of England and Scotland—but is he betraying his country or saving it, trying to clear his name, or just cause trouble?

It is dense, rich, distinctive, full of allusion, implication, and subtlety. Often she will imply something rather than tell the reader outright.

Her descriptions—of clothing, food, weather, are incredibly evocative. The second thing that strikes you is her hero, Francis.

But nothing is as it appears, and if you are willing to put up with Francis, the unfolding of his story—including the purpose behind his actions—will hit you like a rock to the forehead late in the game, one of those fantastic ah-ha moments that every writer hopes to give their readers.

And fortunately Francis is surrounded by a vivid and appealing supporting cast, in which one is happy to find a lot of amazing women.

Not romance in the sense of love or sex, although that plays a part. But romance in the sense of swordfights, last stands, desperate escapes, grand sacrifices, a larger-than-life hero.

View all 3 comments. 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 ; View all 24 comments.

I loved my first adventures with Lymond! 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 received a complimentary copy.

All opinions are my own. My reviews can also be found on my blog: www. View all 9 comments. Shelves: insanely-badass-moment , buddy-reads , best-loved-reads , historical-settings , 5-stars , exceptional-characterisation , oh-the-twists , rips-your-heart-out-and-eats-it , historical-fiction , fantastic-swordfights.

You begin to see in Francis Crawford of Lymond another potential classic hero to love. But then the last pages come.

The courtroom comes. And it all goes down in a crash. One star is lost. With a caveat: that they must be believable. There is where the characterisation of Lymond fails.

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. Hard to tell from the way Dunnett has described him. He feels more 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.

A very good one. The Middle-English quotes gave me more headaches because they were just too obscure.

They are all over the place, everywhere. If the literary references were for chapter openings or for reinforcing the chess-imagery only, then very good.

At times, it even reads like Dunnett was just showing off her scholarly knowledge; there are lines that could support my point.

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. Zum Trailer. Meine Freunde.

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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. I say the story stands on its own without the reader being as well-read as dear Dorothy.

Or you could l Attention: Please ignore the word romance in the goodreads description. 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. View all 88 comments. I shaped mine twenty times and had it broken twenty times in my hands.

Francis Crawford of Lymond has been accused of the most nefarious things: deceit, treachery, rape, drunkenness, murder,and just so he will for sure hang 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, Scotland Women 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.

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.

He was looting her house of silver at the time. She can tell this brother has different stripes than her husband.

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. 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?

Poor Richard is merely Brown and fit to break bread with Throughout the book Dunnett shows her range of reading and her understanding of classical literature.

Orpheus wriggling rump first out of Hades with his chivalry ashine like a ten-thread twill. One of my favorite characters was a blind woman named Lady Christian Stewart who despite her affliction is brave and brilliant proving more than a match for Lymond in a battle of wits.

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 more 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.

View all 27 comments. Game of Kings , first published in , is an intricate, well-plotted tale of the conflict between England and Scotland in , 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 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.

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.

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 also had a challenge following the political maneuvering and battles, although that may not be a problem for more 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 that needs to and does! 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 pages, until I just got over it.

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. View all 42 comments. 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, Diplomacy having failed, England has used force to bring Scotland into a 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.

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.

We know all about Lymond. 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? And so begins The Game of Kings. Battle of Pinkie Cleugh Some 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. 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. 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.

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.

This is not an easy, accessible read by any means. 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.

Line of life — hullo! You appear to have died at the age of seven. 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.

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 is However, I enjoyed The Game of Kings enough to continue the series.

View all 52 comments. This book, and how I feeeeeel about this book. But pieces of this book are graven into me.

I remembe This book, and how I feeeeeel about this book. 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.

Okay, some actual content. This is Scotland, , conflict sparking with England, France circling. I love them all so much I am helpless about it.

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. View all 4 comments. Six stars out of five for Dorothy Dunnett. 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 internati Six stars out of five for Dorothy Dunnett.

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. 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 more 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 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 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.

But I had no problem following the gist of the conversations and the more 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 more 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 more 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 more 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 more 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 more 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 more 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. View all 16 comments. 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. No 'cl 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.

No 'classic' needs to be obscure. Many aren't. That was fast, wasn't it? What, not convinced? 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?

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 more 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'.

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.

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