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Friday, February 15, 2008


***** Checkmate by Dorothy Dunnett. Historical fiction.

6th and last of the Lymond Chronicles. *sigh* I'm going to miss them.

Francis Crawford is back from Russia, against his will. If he returns, he'll forfeit any possibility of divorce from Philippa. His friends and family don't want him to leave; his enemies don't want him to stay in England or Scotland. Torn between the various demands, he's betrayed and ends up in France.

All the plots from the previous books come together here, and Francis is pushed to the breaking point. Dangerous and sensitive politics, martial strategy, the confusing and shifting truth about his family, and his intense and turbulent relationship with Philippa--it's all there, and every time he gets a little breathing room in one area, the others start boiling over. It's the guy at the circus with the spinning plates, but Lymond's plates are incendiary, and if he drops one, he'll be immolated. Rather a mixed metaphor, but it conveys the pressure on our hero.

The six books in this series are all intense and intriguing, and, fittingly, Checkmate is the culmination of all that tension and intrigue and is the most emotionally consuming. The ending is, frankly, exhausting... and supremely satisfying.

As has happened with other series I've absolutely loved (Carol Berg's Transformation series comes to mind), I have a bit of resistance to trying Dunnett's other work. But given the size of my TBR pile (over 600 books at this point, including my recent indulgence in ebook purchases), and the fact that 99 times out of a hundred when I love one series by an author this much, I'll enjoy their other books, too, I've put the Niccolo series on my to-buy list.

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You know Darla, I have not even go back and re-try reading Dunnett first book. It was struggle for me first time I read it. I tell myself it moods thing, but it was struggle reading it.

I know I will re-try reading it again someday...you and Antje gave it a high grade, that I really want to read it. Since I trust your and Antje recommendation. Hey if you talk to Antje, tell her I say Hi :)
I really must give the Dunnett books I go. I have been meaning to for ages!
Gives me some books to add to my list. Thanks!
Hi Darla,

I'm so glad you liked this series :-)
About the other books: I've read the Niccolo books, but since they're quite densely written, too, having to wait for the last couple of books definitely dimmed my pleasure since I couldn't remember half of the details and didn't have time to re-read the previous ones. Just one reminder: don't expect Niccolo to be like Francis. Same's true for the hero of her mysteries which were not my cup of tea at all (probably because I hoped to get someone like Lymond...). But I've heard from so many book-(and DD-)lovers who had quite some interest in all-things-do-do-with trade that they in fact like the HoN-books (Niccolo) even better. You'll definitely have another view on Renaissance business after that (have you read Iris Onigo's Merchant of Prado-book about a real-life Renaissance merchant quite like Niccolo? I found it totally thrilling).

Lots of love,
Doris in Munich
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