Game of Kings

Dunnett, Dorothy. The Game of Kings.New York: Random house, 1997.

Reason read: Dunnett’s birth month is in August. How boring of a reason is that?

16th century Edinburgh, Scotland (1547). The Game of Kings sets the stage for the subsequent five additional volumes in the Lymond series. Master Francis Crawford of Lymond is the anti-hero with “elastic morals.” He is smart, funny, sarcastic and knows how to steal, kill, and charm. I’m sure he’s handsome, too. That is, if you like blondes. Dunnett refers to Lymond’s golden or yellow head quite frequently. Crawford has a chip on his shoulder. His reputation is shot and everyone is after him, friend and foe alike. He’s a scapegoat with a band of misfits (some not to be trusted) who traverse the countryside trying to clear his name. There are enough characters and subplots to make your head spin, but stick with Lymond! He’ll cheer you up.
If you read Game of Kings make sure you pick up the Vintage publication. Dunnett wrote her own foreword and confesses that the text has been “freshened.” Having not read other versions I have no idea what has been “freshened.”

Best lines, “You are not being badgered; you are being invaded” (p 21). See, Francis Crawford of Lymond has a sense of humor! More great lines, “My brilliant devil, my imitation queen, my past, my future, my hope of heaven and my knowledge of hell” (p 237), “There’s nothing to stop you from associating with my servants if you want to, but I’d prefer not to have the younger ones reduced to a state of crapulence for your purposes” (p 397), and “Open your mouth too far and someone will fill it with rubbish” (p 502).

Author fact: Dunnett also wrote the House of Niccolo series (also on my list).

Book trivia: The Game of Kings is “First in the legendary Lymond Chronicles” according to the front cover. Additionally, The Game of Kings is a self-contained novel and doesn’t leave the reader hanging.

BookLust Twist: from More Book Lust in the chapter called “Digging Up the Past Through Fiction” (p 80).

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