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The Lymond Chronicles:
-- Vol. 4 --
Pawn in Frankincense

Marthe/Vermeer: The Girl wth the Earring
"...Fiftteen-year-old," said Philippa furiously, for the third time.
"Or fifty-year-old: what's the difference?" said Lymond. "The coast is a jungle of Moors, Turks, Jews, renegades from all over Europe, sitting in places built from the sale of Christian slaves. There are twenty thousand men, women and children in the bagnios of Algiers alone. I am not going to make it twenty thousand and one because your mother didn't allow you to keep rabbits, or whatever is at the root of your unshakable fixation."
"I had weasels instead," said Philippa shortly.
"Good God," said Lymond, looking at her. "That explains a lot. However. The fact remains. I'm not taking a woman."
"Dear me, but aren't you?" said Georges Gaultier, arriving at that precise moment and standing, wet cloak in his hands. "But I did tell you, didn't I, that my assistant's a woman?..."

Again in French service, Francis Crawford of Lymond returns to the Mediterranean, charged with delivering an eccentric spinet to the Sultan of Turkey as a gift from the French King.
He is accompanied by Philippa Somerville, Marthe, a ward of the mysterious Dame de Doubtance and Archie Abernethy and Jerrott Blyth, two of his captains from St. Mary's.
And under cover of the diplomatic mission, he is searching throughout the lands of the Mediterranean for the child of Oonagh, his former mistress.
In Algiers the small group is split up. Their dangerous trip leads them into some harmless meetings with silkworms, dead giraffes, and wandering singers -- and some not-so-harmless encounters with pirates, ambushes, and Turkish tribute officers. They are finally reunited in the palace of the Sultan, where Lymond is forced to make a horrifying choice in a chess game with living pawns.


In this volume Dunnett introduces us to the other power centre of the 16th century, the Ottoman Empire. Dunnett's style and her delicate irony provide a measured counterbalance between the exotic setting and the gruesome climax in the palace of Topkapi, where this journey inexorably leads.
Among many suspense-filled scenes, this exciting adventure novel features one of the smartest tricks for getting into a hostile fortress (and getting out again unscathed!), and a breathless chase through the subterranean cisterns of Istanbul.

 
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The Lymond Chronicles:
-- Vol. 5 --
The Ringed Castle

Philippa/Holbein: Lady Parker
"... My God he must be a good man with his fists."
"Lymond?" said Danny sweetly.
"Lord Culter. I assume," Ludovic said. "At least, he was the last person up the stairs before Yeroffia. What did they quarrel about?"
"Can you remember," Daniel Hislop said, "how many times you have wanted to do that in the last two or three years, and the occasion each time?"
"Once a day," d'Harcourt said, "Sometimes twice. And for as many different reasons."
"As you say," Danny agreed. He dipped a cloth in cold water and squeezed it. "He can make you want to knock him down, if he feels like it, by simply saying "good morning". He possibly said simply "good morning" to Lord Culter. The difference was that, being his brother, Culter hit him. ..."

After a narrow escape from the Sultan's henchmen, Lymond turns his back on Europe. With the ambitious courtesan Güzel he leaves for the Russian court of Ivan the Terrible. As the Tsar's counsellor and military leader, he creates a new life for himself far from his family and homeland.
But after the English explorer Richard Chancellor arrives at the court of the Tsar, Lymond is sent back to England in the Tsar's service, in an attempt to buy the Western technology the Russian empire needs if it is to reach the status of a great power.
Together with Chancellor Lymond seems to strike out toward a new age, but the voyage back to England is dangerous. And there, at the Tudor court of Mary I, Lymond's old enemies are waiting for him.


In Ringed Castle Dunnett sets her scene first in the backward empire of Ivan the Terrible. On the edge of the known world everything is possible, even the creation of a new world and the birth of a new world power.

The second part marks the successful dawning of a new age of marine power in England, thanks to merchant adventurers and explorers such as Richard Chancellor and John Cabot. It also deals with Russia's less successful attempt to ally itself through England to Europe, and thus to the modern world.

 
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The Lymond Chronicles:
-- Vol. 6 --
Checkmate

Sibylla/Unknown: French Court Woman
"... Danny got up as well.
Piero Strozzi, a single earring swinging against his dark face, looked up and grinned at him.
"Why are you going? France is a civilized country. The two wives of the Comte de Sevigny - does my poor Earl doubt it? - are found of one another."
"I know,"said Danny Hislop, "I want to see them being fond of one another. I want to see everybody brazening it out. And then I want to see what your petit François does to you when the party's over..."

Lymond's enemies have managed to thwart his return to Russia. Now in French service once again, he leads an army against the English town of Calais. But the more successful his military career grows, the more his old adversaries and friends begin to focus their interest on the secrets of his past.
What mystery is hidden in the legacy of the Dame de Doubtance? And why does she demand from the other side of the grave that he hold to the vows of his strictly-on-paper marriage?


In the last book of the Chronicles, Francis Crawford has to face his past, which he fled to Russia to avoid. He must also confront the trauma the Istanbul journey has unleashed.
Checkmate is the most psychological of the six-volume adventures of Francis Crawford of Lymond and Sevigny, but not a jot less exciting than the first five. Dunnett brings her series to a fantastic conclusion that holds the reader in its spell right up until the last page.

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