Queens Play by Dorothy Dunnett
Review by Jacqui Slaney
Though I thoroughly enjoyed Game of Kings, I delayed jumping straight into book 2, as though the writing was skilled and the characters detailed and real, I found that the book required a great deal of attention to read. Therefore, with the Christmas period and a bug that I could not throw off, I was worried that I would not give this book the attention that it deserved, so I controlled my impatience until now. This is the description:
The second book in the world-famous Lymond Chronicles, which bring to life sixteenth-century history through the eyes of one man: Francis Crawford of Lymond. Menaced by England and riven by internal discord, Scotland in 1548 clung to a single hope of survival as a nation - an alliance with France to be sealed by the betrothal of the five-year-old Mary, Queen of Scots, to the Dauphin. However, once in France, Mary suffers a series of ominous 'accidents'. The one-man Mary's mother, the Dowager Queen, feels she can trust to proctor her daughter, now seven, is Francis Crawford. Lymond is dispatched to France and embarks upon a nightmare game of hide-and-seek at the very heart of the glittering, decadent court of Henri II.Show More
Lymond in this story starts in a disguise to assist his work in France and the reader has to try to work out which of the Irish characters he is. Both of them are possible contenders’ so this is intriguing, I kept changing my mind for a while and was pleased when his alter ego was revealed and I was proved right.
Though the story line is just as intricate and there are various sub plots running through this book, I found to my pleasure that this book was easier to read than Game. Why, I am not sure, it might just be because of reading the first book I was more used to the writing style. As the reader already knows many of the characters and the history of the time had been explained there was also less emphasise on whom everyone was and on whose side they were.
This book though still brilliants paints the politics of the era and describes in detail the French court and the antics that the courtiers get up too, the roof chase is excellent and will keep you engrossed to its conclusion as will the hare hunt.
Lymond has definitely grown to be one of my favourite characters; he is developed more in this book becoming fleshed out and in a way more complicated if that is possible. As in the first book, he is shown to be unpredictable and this is part of his charm. You think he will act responsibly now in this story as he has undertaken such an important role for the Queen Mother, but how wrong can you be. The author in just two books has built Lymonds character in very skilful layers, so you cannot take anything he does or says at face value, as there is always something behind it.
This is clearly a book 2, so I would not recommend starting this one, without reading Game of Kings; you need to know the background to the characters and to understand some references made to the occurrences in the first book especially to Christian, Tom Erskine’s first fiancé.
This is one of those books, you will not want to put down. I found myself thinking about the book even when I was not reading, and when the ending came, though it was excellent I was sad to have finished, now I will have to try to contain my impatience to read book 3.
10 out of 10