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The Unicorn Hunt by Dorothy Dunnett

The Unicorn Hunt

by Dorothy Dunnett

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: The House of Niccolo (5)

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566517,572 (4.39)8



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Fifth in the series of eight novels about Dunnett's fifteenth-century hero Claes van der Poele, now rebranded Nicolas de Fleury, on a canvas that takes us from a long first section in Scotland at the court of the young James III, to Cyprus, Alexandria and the monastery of St Catherine on Mount Sinai. I must confess that I felt Dunnett was not fully in control of her material here. The core of the narrative is the feuding between Claes on the one hand and his estranged wife Gelis and his secret father Simon de St. Pol on the other. I was not convinced by Gelis's means or motivation; her end game is not at all obvious, and she seems to have almost supernatural means of keeping Claes apart from his son and his treasure (and at one point his liberty in a gruesome torture scene). Claes meantime has acquired his own supernatural powers of divining the location of sought objects and people by pendulum - though this only works as effectively as the plot needs it to. The attention to local historical and geographical detail is still very worthwhile and engaging, but I hope the next book (which I have ordered, naturally) is more coherent. ( )
  nwhyte | Aug 22, 2016 |
After the cliffhanger ending of Scales of Gold, the story picks up again; Gelis has disappeared, apparently pregnant with Simon's (Nicholas's arch enemy and father) child. Nicholas spends time in Scotland, nurturing plans for the future, and plans to disadvantage, taking care also to sleep with every woman Simon has had recently. A parrot provides a clue to the missing gold from the Africa trip, and the rivalry with the Vatachino, linked to the Adorne family also grows. We are introduced to Katelijne Sersanders, who attaches herself to the Adorne pildrimage to Sinai, and Nicholas also goes (via the Tyrol, where he discovers he can divine) to Egypt.
Finally, Nicholas and Gelis meet again, on top of Mount Sinai, where it is confirmed that she did have a child. Finally, everyone arrives back in Venice, in Carnival season, and the scene is set for Nicholas to finally meet the child; and promptly disappears into the night.
There is a sense of plots starting to come together in this book, although there are still a hell of a lot of red herrings being trailed. ( )
1 vote jkdavies | Jul 7, 2016 |
A typically intricately plotted and dense offering from Dunnett; before I began this series, I would not have thought it possible to complicate one's life more than Lymond did, and yet Nicholas seems more than up to the task. This is the darkest of the 'Niccoló Rising' series so far—an echo of Pawn in Frankincense in the Lymond series, I think; there are certainly thematic and plot resonances, too—with Dunnett breaking Nicholas down as far as he can go before it's possible to make of him the kind of hero/protagonist we see in Lymond. There is one plot point that I intensely disliked, because it introduces an element which seems to jar with the incredibly realistic world which Dunnett has created, and is far too much of a deus ex machina. Everything else, however, rollicks along at a suitably fast pace, and ends on a typically Dunnettian (Dunnettish?) cliff-hanger. I'm glad I have the next book to hand. ( )
  siriaeve | Apr 1, 2009 |
From Library Journal: "Fans of the author's saga of Nicholas van der Poele will be thrilled to read the fifth installment. Dunnett (Scales of Gold, Knopf, 1992), a highly regarded author of historical romance, furthers her reputation with this work, a vivid depiction of 15th-century Europe. Nicholas works his way up through the social strata of early Renaissance Europe during the first books of the series. Here his adventures continue in great detail, starting with the discovery on his wedding night that his bride is pregnant by his sworn enemy. Dunnett's writing style is somewhat complex but rich in information. The reader can feel immersed in the environment she creates; the characters (there are many) have well-developed, unique identities."
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  kristian_m | Sep 13, 2006 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Dorothy Dunnettprimary authorall editionscalculated
Kay, ChristopherNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0375704817, Paperback)

With the bravura storytelling and pungent authenticity of detail she brought to her acclaimed Lymond Chronicles, Dorothy Dunnett, grande dame of the historical novel, presents The House of Niccolo 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.

Scotland, 1468: a nation at the edge of Europe, a civilization on the threshold of the Modern Age. Merchants, musicians, politicians, and pageantry fill the court of King James III. In its midst, Nicholas seeks to avenge his bride's claim that she carries the bastard of his archenemy, Simon St. Pol. When she flees before Nicholas can determine whether or not the rumored child is his own—or exists at all—Nicholas gives chase. So begins the deadly game of cat and mouse that will lead him from the infested cisterns of Cairo to the misted canals of Venice at carnival. Breathlessly paced, sparkling with wit. The Unicorn Hunt confirms Dorothy Dunnett as the genre's finest practitioner.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:22:35 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

The fifth installment in the saga of Nicholas van der Poele, the Flemish adventurer who rises from obscurity to a position of power in 15th Century Europe. It begins with his bride's wedding night revelation that she is pregnant by his sworn enemy. By the author of Scales of Gold.… (more)

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