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The Lymond Chronicles:
An Introduction

chess allegory/Master B R: Chessgame with Death
The Lymond Chronicles were Dorothy Dunnett's first historical series. The setting is Scotland and Europe between 1547 and 1557. The first controversies over the Reformation; the politics of European courts among and against each other; and the power blocs of England, the Hapsburg realms, France, and their allies all form part of the background.

Each of the six books can be read as a self-contained novel and has several theatres of action. Only the first volume, The Game of Kings, is wholly devoted to Scotland. In the six volumes readers make the acquaintance of the Crawford family and their friends and enemies. As an established part of the minor landed aristocracy, the Crawfords cannot avoid becoming entangled in the complex politics between England and Scotland, or in the military conflicts in the Borders region between the two kingdoms.

The main character is the younger son, Francis Crawford of Lymond, who throughout his turbulent youth is drawn deeper and deeper into the intrigues of the Stuarts and Tudors. Brought up according to the Renaissance ideal, polyglot, educated, musical and intelligent, he deploys his talents equally in the quiet warfare of diplomacy and in the loud clash of the battlefield.

On the surface The Lymond Chronicles are six adventure tales, written on a level well above the average and, to the joy of every historian, based on authentic sources and researched to the smallest detail. But in each of the six books, readers learn more and more about the skeletons in the Crawford family closet, the main characters develop further and further, and individual relations and alliances grow ever more complex.

In relation to the family story, each book has its own motif. Thus Game of Kings focuses on ethics and moral philosophy; Queens' Play on fellowship; The Disorderly Knights on order and loyalty, and whether either is possible in a secular lay community; Pawn in Frankincense on the family; Ringed Castle on friendship; and Checkmate on love. Each of these generally accepted values has in the respective volume a price that calls its desired worth into question.

With regard to the German editions of The Lymond Chronicles:

Although all the English titles of the series are derived from the game of chess, the German translators did not adhere to the theme. Equally hard to understand is why the German editions were abridged without informing readers. And the German publishers' failure to publicize this extraordinary writer adequately in the German market is all the more regrettable. With the recent boom in historical novels, which has made it so hard to separate the wheat from the chaff, Dunnett could have found many new readers.

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