Tuesday, June 1, 2010


Here’s a short passage from The Game of Kings by Dorothy Dunnett, book one of the Lymond Chronicles. Dunnett was a true great in our historical fiction genre, best known for her two superb series, The Lymond Chronicles and The House of Niccolo, ranging all over Europe in the 15th and 16th centuries while being anchored in Scotland, and for King Hereafter, the 11th century story of Earl Thorfinn of Orkney whom Dorothy believed was also King Macbeth. Our contributor here, Jen Black, says: “Game of Kings is a fantastic read for sheer plotting brilliance and the sizzling dialogue. If there are patches of slightly mauve prose, then you have to remember it was written nearly fifty years ago. I've grown up with the Lymond Chronicles and compared every other historical to them and mostly found them wanting.”

So, name the city:

Rumour of the hurried Assize had reached the streets by midday, and by two o'clock the Lawnmarket from the Butter Tron to St. Giles was thick with people. By mid afternoon, a further rumour spread that the prisoner, taken out through the Castle postern, was already in the Tolbooth. As this became known there was a good deal of shouting, and someone with no religious intent started up the 109th Psalm; the grave words, used ceremonially at a degradation for treason, yammered on the wind up to St. Giles' sunny crown.

Plenty of clues there. Click on comment and join in. If you’re a Dunnett fan, tell us your favourite book of hers, and why.


Carla said...

Name the city? - sounds like Edinburgh. I can't place the Assize, though, which tells me I should re-read Game of Kings :-)

Favourite Dorothy Dunnett novel - King Hereafter, her take on the historical Macbeth, and written with some of the terse elegance of the Norse sagas.

lordteaspoon said...

All I'm saying, Carla, is that you've convinced me about King Hereafter, especially as it was a response to a school essay on Macbeth that kindled my passion for writing!

Mike Burr said...

Edinburgh, first from the mention of the Tolbooth, and then from St Giles, where in 1638 a Presbyterian harridan tossed a 3-legged stool at a bishop's head with the (rhetorical) question, "Wilt thou say Mass in my lug?" with an unrecorded addition of "tosser!!"


lordteaspoon said...

How fabulous to be running a blog, learning such brilliant facts, and having a laugh to boot!

Nan Hawthorne, Shield-wall Books said...

Definintely Edinburgh!

Nan Hawthorne, who was so blown away by this novel and the character Lymond in it that I cannot even begin to express it!