Monday, May 24, 2010
Title- The Game of Kings
Author- Dorothy Dunnett
Publisher- Vintage Books
Genre- Historical Fiction
Publishing Date- April 29, 1997
Rating 3.5 Crowns
The Game of Kings, the first in the six book Lymond Chronicles, takes us back to Scotland in 1547 and introduces us to the roguish and swashbuckling Francis Crawford of Lymond. The country is in the throes of a battle with England who wishes to conquer Scotland politically via a marriage between five year old Mary Queen of Scots and nine year old Edward VI of England . Francis Crawford (or Lymond as he is referred to most often), once thought to be firmly on his country’s side is now accused of treason for spying for the English. He returns to Scotland and forms a band of mercenaries who spend their time harassing their fellow Scotsman and avoiding capture. Lymond insists that he did not betray the Scottish government and makes it his mission to track down the man who can prove his innocence and restore his name. Further complicating matters is Lymond’s older brother Robert who has a list of grievous wrongs done to him by his brother and is determined to find him and bring him to justice. With his band of ruffians including a gypsy king and a fellow nobleman’s son, Lymond scours Scotland and northern England to find the man he seeks, makes many enemies, and has several adventures and narrow escapes along the way.
The Game of Kings is full of lively characters, political intrigue, and many complex plots and subplots. Lymond is the kind of “hero” I love to meet-fundamentally good when you get right down to it but with a streak of bad that makes him just plain fun. Throughout the book he appears to be of questionable morals but his reasons for his actions when finally revealed prove otherwise. The book is an interesting look at this period of time in Scotland . This is by no means an easy read however. The language is a bit complex as are the plots. There is a lot going on at any given time and I found myself getting lost and having to reread passages if I wasn’t fully concentrating. Also, Dunnett likes to throw in bits of French, Latin, and Spanish throughout the book with no indication of what is being said. I did realize about halfway through the book that I could still follow the story fairly well without knowing the translation. The story starts off rather slow and took me a bit to get into but I am glad I stuck with it. Francis Crawford is one of the liveliest characters I have encountered in awhile. I found myself enormously entertained as we follow him from Edinburgh to Dumbarton, and through the moors and borderlands of Scotland . I would recommend this to anyone who is looking for a rich, complex and involved read-quite a commitment but well worth it in the end.
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Royal Reviewer Angela Renee at 1:10 PM