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The Game of Kings by Dorothy Dunnett
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The Game of Kings (1961)

by Dorothy Dunnett

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Lymond Chronicles (1)

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2,235724,426 (4.29)185
In 1547 Scotland has been humiliated by an English invasion and is threatened by machinations elsewhere beyond its borders, but it is still free. Paradoxically, her freedom may depend on a man who stands accused of treason. He is Francis Crawford of Lymond, a scapegoat nobleman of crooked felicities and murderous talents, possessed of scholar's erudition and a tongue as wicked as a rapier. In The Game of Kings this extraordinary antihero returns to the country that has outlawed him - to redeem his reputation even at the risk of his life.… (more)
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» See also 185 mentions

English (70)  German (1)  All languages (71)
Showing 1-5 of 70 (next | show all)
This book is one of the best books I have ever read, and is the beginning of my favorite series. It is the first book of the Lymond Chronicles, which span six historical fiction novels following the life of Francis Crawford of Lymond across Europe and North Africa. The Game of Kings takes place primarily in Scotland in the late 1540s as Lymond returns to his homeland in a whirl of violence, intrigue, and charm after being gone for five years. He is accused of high treason against Scotland and leads a band of mercenaries from conflict to conflict. The fascinating twisting and turning puzzle-piece plot aside, it is a brocade of characters and relationships that hasn't been equaled on this grand scale.

It's a dense read and takes a few pages to get into, but once you have a foothold in Lymond's world, you won't want to let it go. I first read the series in the Peace Corps (thanks, Mom!), and having read through the first book for a second time, I have discovered even more of the rich world Dunnett has recreated and am greatly looking forward to re-reading the other five books.

I have never been really excited about historical fiction, but Dunnett turned me completely around; characters like hers are nearly impossible to find. I also enjoy history, and know a (very) little bit about English and Scottish history, which helped make it very real and poignant. This first book stands on its own and may be read as an individual work. But why would you when there are five more tasty morsels?

Um, and I love it. ( )
1 vote barrettlucero | Aug 23, 2019 |
What a wonderful book! The story is not only exciting but manages to keep its secrets until the end. It was a bit rough at first getting used to all the Latin used by the author, but worth sticking with it. ( )
  a1stitcher | Jun 22, 2019 |
I bought this after seeing the author recommended by Harry Turtledove on Twitter. I'm actually surprised I didn't find this series in my teens. This is historical fiction at its highest: deep, complex, incredibly well researched, and enlightening. The dialogue is so well steeped in the voice of the 1500s that at times I wasn't sure what was happening, but I was so enthralled by the very lyricism that I kept reading nonetheless.

The plot itself defies simple description. This is politics at its most topsy-turvy, where prisoners are a commodity to be traded like sacks of wheat, and northern England and the Scottish lowlands see fighting and raids more often than the sun. Amid all this is Lymond: a rogue prone to verse in a myriad of languages, a declared traitor to Scotland who has returned home for presumably nefarious purposes. The reality is far more complicated.

The cast is vast, and if you're like me and have trouble tracking names, that can be an issue, especially near the start. The characters are fantastic and realistic, and the sense of place is incredible. I can see why these books are considered classics. I wouldn't mind reading on at some point. I don't usually like rogueish characters, but like many of his peers, I couldn't help but be intrigued by the charismatic Lymond. ( )
  ladycato | Feb 24, 2019 |
I didn't expect to be so excited as the narrative drew to its conclusion. I'm looking forward to the next Lymond. ( )
  jonfaith | Feb 22, 2019 |
My three star review probably doesn't give a good indication of how much I liked this book. I liked it very, very much. But (and all my three star reviews have a "but") you have to be on your toes when you read it. Dunnett, unlike many authors, assumes you're smart and does not ever write down to you. She assumes you've brought your brain with you when you open the book. That's one of the best features of the book but it isn't for everyone. ( )
  MelissaLenhardt | Mar 11, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 70 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (7 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Dorothy Dunnettprimary authorall editionscalculated
Gillies, SamuelNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Monteath, DavidNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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