Game of Kings by Dorothy Dunnett
Review by Jacqui Slaney
I had vaguely heard of this author, but had never actually read any of her books. Then a friend asked if I knew the series as they had heard good things, so I actually looked at the description of series. What I read caught my interest, as I do like this period in history so I was intrigued enough to buy the book, despite the huge pile of other books waiting for me to read.
This is the description:
The opening book in the world famous Lymond Chronicles, Dorothy Dunnett's bestselling series. Lymond is back ... the whisper spreads quickly on that warm August night in 1547. Francis Crawford of Lymond, and outlawed rebel, is in Edinburgh again ... and his arrival in Scotland ignites a series of explosive events. Against a background of political intrigue and violence, Lymond is tracking three men, one of whom holds the only answer he can give to the world, the parliaments and the men who condemned him.
As you can see from the description, the book is set in the 16th century and as you can imagine it is full of the intrigue and political upheaval of that time. There is a boy king on the throne of England and a small girl child on the throne of Scotland and England want desperately for a marriage between the two, so Scotland can for once and for all be brought under their control.
Lymond the youngest Crawford son is seen as a traitor to Scotland as he has supposedly in the past sold all the families secrets to the English for gold, and seems to stop at nothing to get what he wants. Now he has returned following his exile and immediately causes uproar by arson, robbery it seems attempted murder.
This is a complicated story and not for anyone who fancies a light easy read before bed. Take it from me, if you read it at night then prepare to be up late, as the intelligent writing and superb characters catch hold of your attention.
I will admit that I struggled with the book at first, and was not sure if I could keep up with the extremely fast-paced plot, and struggled trying to keep up with the numerous characters and keep them straight in my head as to whom they were. Quotes in different languages thrown into the mix only added to my problems.
I persevered though; I found slowing down my reading speed helped a lot. I do have a bad habit of reading fast, which does not normally matter, but with this book, slower was definitely better.
The further into the story I read, the more enjoyable I found it and started to get a feel for the people in it. Lymond is a great character and he soon became a favourite of mine, although he is violent when it suits him and completely ruthless, and stops at nothing to get what he wants, he is one of the better main characters that I have read for a while.
To be fair though all the characters are real and have their own stories, I could go on for ages about all of them, but I will say that I liked Christian, a woman who helps Lymond when he is injured. As she is blind she does not know who he is, and with her, he shows a different side of his character. Will Scott is good, a young man who joins Lymond and wants to prove himself as better than his master, and when he tries, makes a great hash of it.
The author is obviously very intelligent, has a great knowledge of her subject, and does not dumb anything down for her readers. It is a tough read, but let me reassure you completely worth it. You get to the stage with it, that even when you are not reading, you are thinking about the story and that to me is a sign of a good book.
9 out of 10