Queens' Play

Queens' PlayFrustrating, absorbing and intensely emotional, I can t stop thinking about this bookLymond is back, this time in France, hanging out in disguise in the most extravagant and decadent court in 16 c Europe, trying to protect the young Mary queen of scots The story starts with a bang, there are many twists and turns and Dorothy Dunnett had me wrong footed right form the start Fans of the main character may be a little disappointed with the first half of the book as Lymond is deep in disguise and not quite himself It is a little lighter than a game of kings on the what the hell is he talking about factor for that very reason There is plenty of adventure though as his alter ego lurches from one madcap set piece escapade to another in fine style, his true motivations often not fully understood until much later in the book The writing is fantastic, thrilling and complex, well worth reading out loud, the lynx hunt was one stand out episode for me This is a book to read slowly, to think about, keep your focus and it will reward you The authentic historical detail is fantastic.The plot unravels slowly, as does the still mysterious main character, you never quite know where you are with Lymond I found this an intensely emotional book, triumph and tragedy go hand in hand I can t wait to dive into the next book, I feel I should give myself a bit of a rest first For you are a leader don t you know it I don t, surely, need to tell you And that is what leadership means It means fortifying the fainthearted and giving them the two sides of your tongue while you are at it It means suffering weak love and schooling it till it matures It means giving up your privacies, your follies and your leisure It means you can love nothing and no one too much, or you are no longer a leader, you are the led. c est vraiment magnifique new word I ve learned from this bookAn ollave of the highest grade is professor, singer, poet, all in the one His songs and tales are of battles and voyages, of tragedies and adventures, of cattle raids and preyings, of forays, hostings, courtships and elopements, hidings and destructions, sieges and feasts and slaughters and you d rather listen to a man killing a pig than hear half of them through After the epic struggle to clear his name in Scotland, you would think Francis Lymond deserves some rest, but he has come to the attention of the high and mighty, and they have plans on how to use him Mary of Guise, the Queen Mother of Scotland doesn t like a free agent of Lymond caliber roaming the home country, and she plots to bring him under her thumb to France, where she and her seven year old daughter Mary Queen of Scots have taken refuge from English attacks at the court of young Henry II It will be difficult to describe the plot without giving up spoilers Even mentioning names would point out who made it through from one book to the next a word of warning Dunnet outplays even George R R Martin when it comes to offing main players she has built over hundreds of pages and made the reader care deeply about Queens Play has a very complex plot, but at its most basic level it is a spy story, with one man attempting to infiltrate a foreign government at the highest level in order to save the life of an innocent The man is out on a limb, as his sponsors deny any knowledge or support of his activities The only resources at his disposal are his wits and his courage, a fast tongue and a talent for mischief.Disguised as Thady Boy Ballagh, ollave to Phelim O Liam Roe, an Irish prince coming to the court to ask for French support against the British invading his beloved Eire, Lymond is supposed to keep a low profile, but his journey will become a long list of deadly incidents as he tries to unmask the shadow puppetmasters who would destroy an alliance between France and Scotland view spoiler Lymond will drowned at sea, trampled by berserk elephants, stabbed, burned, poisoned, thrown from heights, hunted with panthers and wild boars, mauled by wild horses, and so on Dunnett is ruthless in applying the old technique of putting her hero under pressure to show what he is made of But the physical tortures are nothing compared with the emotional turmoil Lymond, and the reader, will go through by the end of the book hide spoiler Me, after A Game of KingsCan I shoot him, preferably with a harquebus, please Lymond is so insufferable Me, after Queen s PlayCan I have him, preferably scantily dressed, please Lymond is so entertaining That could comprise my whole review of Dunnett s series in a nutshell, were it not for a I am bound to a compromise to review, and b I m likely to regret this fangirly statement in a few years, when old and toothless I don t believe I ve had a sharp turnaround of this sort before, going from having a poor opinion of a character in one book and liking the same character in the next, and if I have, it mustn t have stayed with me for later recalling The first of the reasons to point out would be that my three major complaints about the debut book are toned down in the second Not only is the plot better fleshed out, following a less confusing plotline, keeping it still in the traditional swashbuckling mould, and that the author doesn t spell all out for the reader at the end as before Instead, the surprises ambush the reader at every turn and the head scratching comes from trying to figure out the solution to mysteries that drive the story rather than interpreting the obscure quotes The atmosphere of court intrigue as opposed to the insane castle to fortress to countryside adventure route of the previous volume also helps in following the narrative with ease, for me at least, as I tend to like that setting.Those who complained about the language and foreign phrases in Game of Kings will be pleased to know that this time Dunnett doesn t overuse this technique, and not only does the language become clearer but also flows better because of it True, the foreign quotations and the unknown allusions are still there, but both because the reader would already be familiar with the author s style as well as for the lesser quantities to be found Lymond can now speak in prose like everyone else, to paraphrase an exasperated character.Lymond his character had such an aura of immaturity and preciousness that didn t quite do it for me, and when I don t warm up to the main character, it s not easy for me to appreciate a book as it would deserve And it was him out of all my issues with the first book what had left me hesitant to ever pick up the next I didn t like Lymond Didn t like him in the first book But persistence paid off Dunnett is slowly starting to pan out the personal growth of her young character, that wasn t evident before, and we start to see glimpses of Lymond s inner demons and doubts and the regrets he seemed incapable of having We witness that he does carry a cross in the form of the memory of the people that died in his service, like Christian Stewart, that manifests itself in his reluctance to risk his men or women and his preference for jeopardising his own life by attracting the would be assassins unto himself to spare his men any risks It s said that Dunnett s been too heavy handed with Lymond s physical safety this time, and whilst it s true that in this book he gets broken bones, wounds and poisonings than one can count, they aren t gratuitous and within the context of his reasons for that behaviour, I wouldn t be inclined to consider all that excessive whatsoever To me, it makes sense, and does add to his character growth, and there s also that he for the first time that I can recall expresses hopelessness, when confronted by a well meaning appeal to keep on living, he blurts out For what And then there is the guilt over the archer in whose demise he has his share of responsibility In sum, two years haven t passed without a mark on the carefree Scottish adventurer s personality he is maturing, yet still delightfully childish He is better at his job and cautious, yet still insanely daring A side of him that will likely emerge in its full glory later is also glimpsed here he has a great capacity to love, unlike what a certain embittered lady tells of him, and when it s time, he is going to fall hard Can t wait to see it, personally.Now, what about the storyline Oh, the storyline I fear you all are going to have to read the book to find out exactly why I m giving this five big shiny stars All I can promise you is lots of adventure, so make sure not to read it in the night once you re close to the ending. Second reading June 2016 via audio book, as with TGoK made me love it even original review I still think Francis Crawford of Lymond, the Master of Culter, is basically Lord Flashheart from Blackadder in subtler guise But now, now he actually seems even over the top than that.In Queens Play, the second of the six Lymond Chronicles, Lymond is amuck in France at the behest of the Scottish Dowager Queen Mother, Mary de Guise, whose seven year old daughter Mary, Queen of Scots, is being raised at the French court alongside her intended husband, the Dauphin, supposedly to keep her safe from the hated English The little girl turns out to sorely need a guy like Lymond in her corner, because someone is making some truly outlandish attempts on her life Elephants and cheetahs are used as would be murder weapons, to give you some idea.Ah, but good thing there is Lymond, the most accomplished and capable hero, maybe ever I kid because I love, but really, there appears to be nothing this guy can t do He is simply the best at everything, be it dialogue so subtle I m not even sure he really knows what s going on I sure never felt like I did, and I supposedly had the third person omniscient narrator on my side , as we already knew from The Game of Kings fighting and sword play, ditto disguise, ditto but also it turns out he can juggle better than a professional entertainer, play all the musical instruments to a similar standard, sing like an angel seriously, even given that his milieu is Life Before TV and all, who in the world ever had the time and energy to get that good at absolutely everything I mean, the dude even competes brilliantly at what amounts to Renaissance parkour.All this, and he spends most of the novel drunk out of his mind, too.Lymond, in short, is the guy everybody wants on his or her side but whom nobody can be sure actually is, even when they re pretty sure he s said he would be As in the previous novel, he spends a lot of his time concealing his identity from everyone, including the reader, who often thinks she knows which of the novel s other characters he s impersonating in a given scene but who turns out, often, to be wrong It makes for maddening reading, but then, this is a great part of the fun, with Lymond, whose mystique Dunnett most carefully maintains by making sure his is the only point of view we never get to share, to whose thoughts we are never privy Instead, entire, sometimes lengthy, scenes come from the perspective of a throwaway character like, say, a nobleman s wife whose dinner is incommoded, whose superficial impressions of Lymond s appearance and behavior are all we get to work with even as Dunnett adds an extra layer of opacity to it all by summarizing dialogue as obliquely as possible We are often told of, for instance, someone using a unique and colorful phrase, but I guess we are supposed to work out which phrase all on our own Based on our great erudition regarding all matters lexical, continental and Renaissance Sigh.But amid all the bafflement, there is again some astonishingly good action writing Swordplay, hunting, horse racing through a tower, the aforementioned Renaissance parkour, all have an immediacy and a breakneck pace that few writers could equal, in any age It s as though Umberto Eco were writing a script for Tony Scott, or something And yes, these scenes are well placed, as if to wake up the reader who is getting a little weary of all the subtlety and archaic wit.But speaking of wit, or at least of its cousin, humor, tne thing that I missed this time around, though, was the entertaining array of supporting characters from the first novel No Jonathan Crouch types here everybody is in deadly and often dull earnest, and while the figure of Prince O Liamroe seems to have been intended as a bit of comic relief in that vein, he s just not as fun And no counterpart for Sybella or Lady Agnes appears at all This may be the fault of the setting and the higher stakes, but I missed this element dreadfully, and no amount of cheetah coursing really made up for the lack.I m still in for the rest of the Lymond Chronicles, though I just need some time to rest ze brain a little, from this one. I said on twitter that I am smart enough to read Dunnett, but just barely She layers intrigue and action with some beautiful language but I was often forced to go back and reread several pages because i missed something vital she doesn t hold your hand and warn you when something major is coming up.I still can t help but seeing Lymond as a historical Bugs Bunny with at stake He is in and out of every situation, changes personas like hats, and is good at everything More importantly, he never REALLY seems to be in trouble and through two books I never doubt his eventual victory Perhaps depth will come of his character though the seven book series Great series so far Historical Fiction is rarely my thing but I will continue working through Dunnett s. It is two years since the close of The Game of Kings and someone is planning the murder of young Mary Queen of Scots, and Mary of Guise summons Francis Crawford of Lymond to France to stop the murderous plot Francis comes in disguise as a member of the entourage of a Prince of Ireland, and the game is on Thady Boy Ballagh nee Lymond charms the decadent French court with his wit, sarcasm and music as Dunnett slowly unpeels the layers of her tale with plot twists and surprise turns around every corner No one is what they appears to be at first glance, even Francis Is Thady Boy really a drunken sot or is someone trying to poison him Someone is trying to kill O LiamRoe but is it because they think he is Lymond in disguise Does the young Archer Robin Stewart who befriends Thady Boy have another motive than friendship While the book is slow at times, this story unfolds amidst the decadence of the French Court, it s hard drinking, partying courtiers, scheming noblemen, a race atop the roofs and steeples of Paris brilliant , and ending in a nail biting finish as the plot to murder Mary comes full circle and Francis efforts to save Mary include some members of the King s menagerie a couple of elephants, a roaring lion and even the chimpanzees get in the act Throughout, Francis Crawford is a fascinating hero, and is as suave, debonair, flawed and fascinating as only a 16th Century version of James Bond could be This is a complicated tale, and one that a reader has to pay close attention to, if you let your mind wander you may have to back track occasionally as I did However, if you enjoy a complicated, action packed, surprise around every corner type of novel ala Dumas, you will probably find this series to be right up your alley Five stars and now on to book 3 The Disorderly Knights. This second book of the Lymond Saga opens in 1550, two years after the events described in The Game of Kings.Mary of Guise, queen dowager and regent of Scotland is planning a journey to France to visit her eight year old daughter Mary, Queen of Scots, who is being brought up at Henri II s court as the affianced bride of the Dauphin She knows that the fate of Scotland is tied up with the fate of its young queen, and her she has been given reason to believe that her child is in danger.She is right to be concerned.She knows that there are some very unscrupulous people in and around the French Court and that the English and the Irish in particular would seize any chance to break the alliance between France and Scotland Queen Mary of England is struggling to contain the Protestant movement and keep her land as a strong Catholic power, and she knows that the alliance will make that difficult to achieve The Irish want to end of the English occupation of their country, they need France to help them and they are ready to use any means necessary.Francis Crawford of Lymond, newly restored to favour, is the man that the queen dowager wants to accompany her to France, and to uncover any plots against the little Queen Her advisers counsel against that, they warn her that he would not agree, that he was not biddable, that he would too recognizable to the French but she is quite certain that he is the best man for the job and she agrees to his terms that he may carry out the job as he sees fit.Given such a charge, most men would travel discreetly, live quietly, and observe the court from the sidelines but that is not Lymond s way He sets about winning a place at the very centre of the court, hiding in plain sight, and putting himself in a position influence people and events and to reveal the machinations of all of the interested parties It was intriguing to watch as Lymond stepped into and between fraught political alliances and schemes, knowing that any one of them could pose a threat to Queen Mary s life and that the slightest misstep could herald the end of his own life.I found the difference in scale and perspective interesting when I compared this book with The Game of Kings On one hand this book was concerned with greater matters affairs of state and the future of countries rather than one man s future but on the other hand it felt smaller and enclosed, in the confines of the court rather than moving freely and at will.That gave a different perspective on Lymond, a different view of his many accomplishments, his skill at managing people and situations, his resourcefulness and the resources he had to draw upon but because he was playing a role for most of this book I can t say that I understand too much at the end than I did at the beginning, or that I am at all sure where the performance ends and the person behind it begins.That plot is complex, multi stranded, and so cleverly constructed I couldn t say that I had a good grasp of what was going on, but I was captivated by wonderfully rich and detailed writing by a wealth of scenes that had different tones and different tempos but were all quite perfectly painted and the set pieces were dazzling There s a near disaster at sea, a stampede of elephants, a wrestling match and best of all a moonlit roof top race that I could quite happily re read and re live time and time again.The court of Henry II was so well evoked and I loved the cinematic sweep as well as perfectly framed close ups There is such a wealth of detail that makes up the bigger picture, I m sure that I missed things, that a second read will reveal , but this book lived and breathed and I know that I have to read on, to find out what happens next and understand where this series of books is going.I was unsettled at first by the loss of so many characters from the first book who I thought would be of continuing importance, and I am not sure that this book caught up with one particular quest moved things forward too much and that means that I have to say that I couldn t love this book as much as I loved The Game of Kings I m sure that it has a purpose I think saw seeds being sown I think I met characters who will move forward, beyond this story and it might be that I will appreciate it when I see its place in the series as a whole.And I think I need to stop writing and go back to reading. It is funny that I know that there are four books left, and I know some history about Scotland, but I am still chewing my finger nails off anticipating the worst outcome possible Ahhh, it must be a great a book Dorothy Dunnet, you have an amazing writing style. For The First Time Dunnett S Lymond Chronicles Are Available In The United States In Quality Paperback EditionsSecond In The Legendary Lymond Chronicles, Queen S Play Follows Frances Crawford Of Lymond Who Has Been Abruptly Called Into The Service Of Mary Queen Of Scots Though She Is Only A Little Girl, The Queen Is Already The Object Of Malicious Intrigues That Extend From Her Native Country To The Court Of France It Is To France That Lymond Must Travel, Exercising His Sword Hand And His Agile Wit While Also Undertaking The Most Unlikely Of Masquerades, All To Make Sure That His Charge S Royal Person Stays Intact

here.Dorothy Dunnett Society

✰ [BOOKS] ✸ Queens' Play By Dorothy Dunnett ✽ – 502udns.info
  • Paperback
  • 432 pages
  • Queens' Play
  • Dorothy Dunnett
  • English
  • 15 April 2018
  • 9780679777441

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