Dunnett, Dorothy. Race of the Scorpions. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1999.
Reason read: to continue the series started in August in honor of Dunnett’s birth month.
Race of the Scorpions is the third installment in the House of Niccolo series. Nicholas vander Poele is a mere twenty-one years old and already a widower. His stepdaughters want nothing to do with him and summarily locked him out of house and business.
Of course there are interesting character maneuvers as well. Niccolo has a new enemy in Katelina van Borsten. She seduced Claes into taking her virginity and after their second tryst became pregnant. She ended up marrying Simon who’s first wife gave birth to Claes. Ultimately, Kate married Claes’s stepfather and together they are raising Kate and Claes’s child, unbeknownst to Simon. All the while, Nicholas is growing in power. His business sense is blossoming which further irritates his enemies.
Dunnett continues to masterfully weave fictional story-lines around real people, places and events. It’s what could have happened and probably did.
As an aside, her sex scenes are only hints of trysts and conquests, tastefully done.
Quotes to quote, “She long ago concluded that the world would be a more efficient place if managed by women” (p 9), “He assumed the face of an owl” (p 137), “No matter what you did, no matter what you planned, the unexpected happened” (p 203), and my favorite, “You don’t inherit three hundred years of scorpion blood and end up a buttercup” (p 265).
Author fact: Taking a break from author facts for this one. I will have several opportunities to say more as I am reading lots of Dunnett in the future!
Book trivia: the introduction to Race of the Scorpions spells out exactly what has happened in Niccolo Rising (Vol. One) and Spring of the Ram (Vol. Two).
Nancy said: Nancy said it would be “a shame to miss out on [the] House of Niccolo series” (More Book Lust p 80).
BookLust Twist: from More Book Lust in the chapter called “Digging Up the Past Though Fiction” (p 79).