[personal profile] lightreads
The Game of Kings, Queen's Play, The Disorderly Knights, Pawn in Frankincense, The Ringed Castle, Checkmate

Being a chronicle of a decade in the life of Francis Crawford, brilliant younger son of a Scottish noble family in the full flower of the sixteenth century. Soldier, spy, poet, musician, cold bastard, political thinker ahead of his time, possessed by a humanitarianism so deep it turns right back around into viciousness. The six books take us through his tumultuous twenties in Scotland, France, Malta, Turkey, Russia. He is an outlaw and an advisor to kings by turns, and he has a line of poetry for every occasion.

I plowed through all three thousand pages two weeks ago, actually, staying up until dawn more than once. It's taken me this long to write about first because of exams, and second because I needed some time to breathe a bit and stop frantically flipping through to reread favorite bits while making high-pitched squeaking noises.

I . . . oh. I have not loved books like this in . . . it's been years. The first one takes a few hundred pages, but when it hits it hits hard, and the next thing you know you're shrieking into your pillow at three in the morning. These books are hysterically funny, achingly painful, sharp enough to cut yourself on nearly every page. They work so well as a block of dense, erudite, complex machinery that they gather up their own flaws and repurpose them into brilliance. The purple prose opens up hearts otherwise left opaque by the omniscient narrator. The repeatedly slow starts transform when you're not looking into the sort of grinding tension that keeps your hands shaking through hundreds of pages. The literary references, so numerous as to be laughable in anyone else's hands, are so carefully selected as to be comprehensible even when I couldn't place the source.
Please note: the above paragraph was written in an attempt to bring coherence to the urge to go 'Francis Crawford! EEEEEE!' Success may vary.

Brilliant, complicated to the point of baroqueness, extraordinarily demanding books. Worth every second.

Date: 2008-05-18 09:26 am (UTC)
ext_7845: (Default)
From: [identity profile] yunitsa.livejournal.com
It's so wonderful to see someone discover the Lymond Chronicles for the first time - with the tears and the high-pitched noises! And this phrase, a humanitarianism so deep it turns right back around into viciousness, is such a perfect description of Lymond.

Date: 2008-05-25 09:53 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lightreads.livejournal.com
I think these are the only books ever that have actually lived up. I held off reading them for a few years because everyone loved them so much, I didn't want to be disappointed. And, it turns out, I wasn't.

Date: 2008-05-18 12:40 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] grievous-angel.livejournal.com
I cannot begin to tell you how great is my love for these books and for Francis Crawford. I have loved them for such a very, very long time and yet I turn to them again and again and find something new and wonderful and joyous in them each time. I adore them.

Date: 2008-05-25 09:54 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lightreads.livejournal.com
And when he fights with his brother! and then in France! And Gabriel! And the chess game! And Philippa!

Sorry. I suspect I won't be over this for along time, if ever.

Date: 2008-05-18 01:29 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] readerjane.livejournal.com
So good to see you reviewing again! And just when I was almost done with Laurie King's Folly, looking for the next read. *g*

Date: 2008-05-25 09:55 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lightreads.livejournal.com
Yeah, I've been sadly MIA. Am trying to get back into the LJ habit, but it's difficult.

Yes, do read them. Just be warned, you may find yourself staying up all night.

Date: 2008-05-25 10:03 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] readerjane.livejournal.com
*Grump*

Went to my library today to pick up the first book, only to find them closed for the holiday weekend.

I thought the neighboring town's library might just be open, since today's not really the holiday yet. Called, got their recording saying "the library is open today", cheered, drove over there. Door was locked. *Grump*

Date: 2008-05-18 03:18 pm (UTC)
aella_irene: "Today I shall be witty, charming and elegant. Or maybe I'll say "um" a lot and trip over things." (a room without books...)
From: [personal profile] aella_irene
The literary references, so numerous as to be laughable in anyone else's hands, are so carefully selected as to be comprehensible even when I couldn't place the source.

Elspeth Morrison wrote a Dunnett companion in two volumes. The first volume covers Lymond, and the start of the Niccolo series, the second covers the end of the Niccolo series. They contain articles about the people, the places, and the literary references, down to the very obscure ones, and they're very good. Dunnett helped Morrison, and I think gave her access to her notes.

Date: 2008-05-25 09:56 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lightreads.livejournal.com
Yeah, I've been pondering those -- there aren't readily available electronic copies, so it would involve scanning them myself. But if they're worth it, I will. Thanks.

Date: 2008-05-18 03:56 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] quietann.livejournal.com
They sound lovely, and I'm looking for some new books to read, so... thank you! Hopefully the Andover library or its larger system has them...

Date: 2008-05-25 09:58 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lightreads.livejournal.com
I think you, in particular, will like these. I mean, I think anyone worth knowing will like these in that way you do when you love something that much, but certain strands of Dunnett have a lot fo congruiety with the bits you've written out from Bujold.

Date: 2008-05-18 07:36 pm (UTC)
ext_281: (Default)
From: [identity profile] the-shoshanna.livejournal.com
The Lymond Chronicles! So, so, SO wonderful.

Date: 2008-05-18 10:22 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] josanpq.livejournal.com
Francis Crawford of Lymond. I 'met' him when I was sixteen and I still love him all these many years later.

Also, the history. You didn't mention the history. So well presented. That and the historical characters Dunnett brings to life. (He husband held the Chair of History at Edinburgh.)

Have you read her MacBeth? (Damn, I can't remember its name! Has some great lines in it as well. KING HEREAFTER! That's it!)

Date: 2008-05-25 10:00 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lightreads.livejournal.com
Yes, the history! Particularly painful when it comes to Mary. I mean, the books end beautifully, but you keep thinking, 'oh, but you don't know what's coming . . .'

And she managed to make him pivotal in many key historical moments without making it weird that he's, you know, fictional. He is one of those characters that I sort of secretly have decided was real, though, if you know what I mean.

Date: 2008-05-19 02:10 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] fajrdrako.livejournal.com
How wonderful to encounter another Lymond-lover! 'Francis Crawford! EEEEEE!' has been my battle-cry since my first discovery of the books. Sadly, once you're addicted, I don't think there's a cure - I reread the books at regular intervals. And, incredibly, they always make me feel just as much as they did on the very first reading. Including the shivers down the back and the nail-biting and the (shameless) Francis-adoration.

As for recognizing all the sources - collective Dunnett fandom has been working on this for years. Are you aware of the "Companion" books by Elspeth Morrison? Let me see... here (http://www.amazon.com/Dorothy-Dunnett-Companion-Elspeth-Morrison/dp/0375725873/ref=sr_1_4/002-9048951-7816857?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1211162719&sr=8-4) and here (http://www.amazon.com/Dorothy-Dunnett-Companion-Elspeth-Morrison/dp/0375725873/ref=sr_1_4/002-9048951-7816857?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1211162719&sr=8-4). There are also numerous (and more complete) compendiums written by fans. The quest for these sources is endless and delightful.

Love your description of Lymond. (Though I have a special fondness for Leone Strozzi's description: "a drunken amateur who makes music and love comme une ange.")

Date: 2008-05-25 10:42 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lightreads.livejournal.com
Yeah, I'm contemplating picking up the companion volumes. I had a pretty solid grounding in the French end of the period lit, and a decent showing in the British, but I was still pausing and blinking on every other page.

One of my favorite descriptions was, "'You're the cleverest drunken lecher I know; and the only one who'd stand there and give me the chance to say it,'

Date: 2008-05-26 11:41 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] fajrdrako.livejournal.com
I was still pausing and blinking on every other page.

As were we all. Many of us knew the English, Scots and French history and language, maybe even the Italian - but that and the Irish? And the Turkish? And the Maltese? And the Russian?

"'You're the cleverest drunken lecher I know; and the only one who'd stand there and give me the chance to say it,"

Loved that, too!

Date: 2009-04-21 04:42 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] merryish.livejournal.com
I'm so glad you linked to this journal, because I didn't know it existed. YAY!

Also to say, I bought The Game of Kings long, long ago and never made it through those first 100 pages. But on your word, I'm going back in. =)

Date: 2009-04-22 02:19 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lightreads.livejournal.com
Put it this way -- I lump the Vorkosigan books, the Sayers Peter books, and these books into one category of awesome in my head. They all have the basic similarity of tracing the life of an extraordinary man in extraordinary times, though they're otherwise extremely different. Worth sticking it out for, though it might take a while to set in because of the style.

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