Ringed Castle

Dunnett, Dorothy. The Ringed Castle. New York: Vintage Books, 1971.

Reason read: to continue the series started in August in honor of Dunnett’s birth month.

When we left Francis Crawford of Lymond he had just married Philippa Somerville and sent her home to England with his two year old son, Kuzum. Meanwhile, he hooked up with harem head, Kiaya Khatien, the former mistress of Dragus Rais. Because of her, his next adventure takes him to the crude and unforgiving lands of Russia where he becomes advisor to Tsar Ivan (later, Ivan the Terrible). It becomes Crawford’s mission to create, muster, train and equip a professional Russian army. Francis, now called the Voedoda Bolshoia, is becoming even calmer and more complicated but he remains just as cool and cruel as always. Typical, his motives are constantly questioned. I find his relationship with a golden eagle under his command is fascinating. I enjoyed best the scenes with this bird despite the cruel end.
Meanwhile, back in London, Philippa digs into her husband’s heritage and uncovers some troubling secrets, which by the way, sets up the final book, Checkmate, perfectly.

A line to make you sit up: right from the beginning, the opening sentence is “Not to every young girl is it given to enter the harem of the Sultan of Turkey and return to her homeland a virgin” (p 3). Hello. Another line I liked, “And because death was a friend, the one man who was made to receive, like a tuning fork, the whispering omens of fate did not recognize it, until too late” (p 312).

Author fact: I am uninspired to dig up anything new on Ms. Dunnett at this time.

Book trivia: this installment of the Lymond series doesn’t have a Cast of Characters list. I guess you’re supposed to know everyone by now. Also, Dunnett wrote the foreword admitting to “manicuring to repair the defects.”

BookLust Twist: from More Book Lust in the chapter “Digging Up the Past Through History” (p 73).

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