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Race of Scorpions by Dorothy Dunnett
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Race of Scorpions (1989)

by Dorothy Dunnett

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: The House of Niccolo (3)

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Book 3 of the Niccolo series, and we are just about starting to root for Niccolo, who on the whole seems to have come back from Trebizond having tried his best for the Charetty company; only to be met by the cold shoulder of his daughters in law. He sets out for himself, but is caught up in the war between brother and sister in Cyprus. There are a hell of a lot of double crosses going on, difficult to keep track of, and we are introduced to the Vasquez family, who Simon's sister married into. Kateline has been staying with them. In all the politicking, Nicholas marries a courtesan and spy, Primaflora, we are never sure if there is a genuine relationship between them, or just physical attraction. She contrives to dispose of Kateline on several occasions, one of which results in Kateline and Nicholas becoming reconciled, He thinks he has sent her and Diniz Vasquez (who he thinks of as his nephew) home to Portugal, but finds that they are holed up in Famagusta, which he has been besieging on behalf of Zacco.
After Famagusta, Nicholas's disputed grandfather, Jordan de Riberac arrives to exact revenge.
I did find it tricky going, still on this reread.I think there's a lot of plot setting going on and things become clearer in the later books. Maybe ;) ( )
1 vote jkdavies | Jul 7, 2016 |
http://nwhyte.livejournal.com/2357757.html

Cyprus is partitioned between feuding rulers, one a proxy of distant Christian Europe, the other beholden to the more local Muslim regional power; the larger part of of the island is controlled by one faction, but the key cities of Famagusta and Kyrenia are in the hands of the minority.

However it's not 1974, or any year since, but 1463, and Dorothy Dunnett's Flemish hero Niccolo gets drawn into the dynastic dispute between the legitimate (but losing) heiress Carlotta, and her very handsome half-brother James. There are beautiful women and fierce battles, and terrific derring-do; there is a brilliant scene with chemically impregnated clothes and a valley filled with snakes; there is gut-wrenching, understated tragedy as Niccolo works through his own complex family back-story against the foreground of the Lusignan succession. It's brilliant stuff.

In addition, anyone who actually knows Cyprus will find it particularly attractive. For the same reason as Dunnett's hero, I have an affinity with the Gothic cathedral in Famagusta; much of the rest of the landscape, and a surprising amount of the architecture, is familiar even today - it may be that the same is true of the scenes in Burges or Rhodes, which I know rather less well. It's not essential to enjoying the book, but it adds some much appreciated colour. ( )
  nwhyte | Oct 5, 2014 |
It's okay to admit that I still don't have the foggiest idea about much of what goes on in this book, right? Especially in the last third, when the plot twists, revelations and political machinations are coming fast and thick. Still, fast-paced enough to be very enjoyable, though, and I think it's a lot easier to spend six hundred odd pages with Niccolo than it is with Lymond. (Don't get me wrong, I'm very fond of Lymond, but the urge to smack him upside the head is so strong.) ( )
  siriaeve | Apr 26, 2008 |
2924 Race of Scorpions, by Dorothy Dunnett (read 6 Nov 1996) This is the third volume in the House of Niccolo series. It tells of Niccolo in Cyprus and Rhodes, where in 1461-1464 he helps James of Lusignon, bastard son of King James II of Cyprus, defeat his sister Carlotta and become sole ruler of Cyprus. There is stirring action at times, but I have decided not to read the fourth volume--while there is a lot of research in these books, for long periods they are not too interesting, and I have decided that I have read enough of Dorothy Dunnett. ( )
  Schmerguls | Jan 23, 2008 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Dorothy Dunnettprimary authorall editionscalculated
Kay, ChristopherNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Book description
With the bravura storytelling and pungent authenticity of detail she brought to her acclaimed Lymond Chronicles, Dorothy Dunnett presents The House of Niccolò series. The time is the 15th century, when intrepid merchants became the new knighthood of Europe. Among them, none is bolder or more cunning than Nicholas vander Poele of Bruges, the good-natured dyer's apprentice who schemes and swashbuckles his way to the helm of a mercantile empire.
In 1462, Nicholas is a wealthy 21-year-old. His beloved wife has died. His stepchildren have locked him out of the family business. He and his private army are the target of multiple conspiracies. And both contenders for the throne of Cyprus, the brilliant Queen Carlotta and her charismatic, sexually ambivalent brother James, are demanding his support. Walking a tightrope of intrigue, Dunnett's hero juggles adversaries and allies, from the delectable courtesan Primaflora to the Mameluke commander Tzani-Bey al Ablak, a man of undiluted evil. Masterfully paced, alive with sensual delights, Race of Scorpions confirms Dorothy Dunnett as the grande dame of the genre.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0375704795, Paperback)

With the bravura storytelling and pungent authenticity of detail she brought to her acclaimed Lymond Chronicles, Dorothy Dunnett presents The House of Niccolò series. The time is the 15th century, when intrepid merchants became the new knighthood of Europe. Among them, none is bolder or more cunning than Nicholas vander Poele of Bruges, the good-natured dyer's apprentice who schemes and swashbuckles his way to the helm of a mercantile empire.
      In 1462, Nicholas is a wealthy 21-year-old. His beloved wife has died. His stepchildren have locked him out of the family business. He and his private army are the target of multiple conspiracies. And both contenders for the throne of Cyprus, the brilliant Queen Carlotta and her charismatic, sexually ambivalent brother James, are demanding his support. Walking a tightrope of intrigue, Dunnett's hero juggles adversaries and allies, from the delectable courtesan Primaflora to the Mameluke commander Tzani-Bey al Ablak, a man of undiluted evil. Masterfully paced, alive with sensual delights, Race of Scorpions confirms Dorothy Dunnett as the grande dame of the genre.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:11:20 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

In 1462, widowed twenty-one-year-old merchant/adventurer Niccol and his private army become caught between warring factions--respectively led by Queen Carlotta and her brother, James--battling for control of Cyprus.

» see all 2 descriptions

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