Stayed up until 4 am on a weeknight again then proceeded during the next day to read it in the bathroom over a breakfast of oatmeal and in the car while waiting for traffic lights to turn green Seen by the lucid light of day this fixation seems a little overwrought Why am I weeping on the airplane with the wadded up ball of my Southwest complimentary napkin affixed to various parts of my splotchy streaming face Why pray tell am I contemplating the idea of purchasing all ight of the Niccolo books new off of com But man oh man this one hit all of my buttons Like ALL of them Continent spanning action check Dazzling descriptions of xotic locales check Political intrigue check Massive motional stakes check Gorrrrrrrgeous mind xpanding writing yes Reuisite writerly showboating which in the past has availed itself to cheetah hunts rampaging lephants moonlit rooftop races pic castle sieges and other carnivalesue riots of activity but now xpands its scope to include um gymnastics performed atop galloping horses yup Main character through no small devising of his own WRITHING IN HELLISH AGONY and if you read this series you will understand why this is a source of jolly good fun rather than an indication of my own severely unbalanced mental state check Complex pivotal nuanced girl roles uh huh Adorable kid mommying scenes that made my ovaries suirm check Tension between main character and his dedicated captainbrooding Christian knightloyal friend so thick you could stand a spoon in it awwww yeahLonger thoughts continue here Pawn in Frankincense opens up shortly after the nd of The Disorderly Knights as Jerrott and Philippa track down L How do you review a book for which the current rating system with its maximum five stars looks so insufficient That s the dilemma facing me And as much as I think I can t do justice to it words might convey what the five stars can t xplain why xactly I came to love thisThe Chronicles of Lymond had a very rough start for me very rough not so much for the usual reasons as for the protagonist character himself and I was highly sceptical of the day I d adore the series ver arriving Like it maybe Love it unlikely Yet that day has arrived and after Pawn in Frankincense there s a place for Francis Crawford of Lymond and Sevigny in my very short list of favourite literary charactersAll right all right that s too solemn a way to put it I have a crush on him I bloody love himDone that s better now Forward to the review bos nWhen the book opens we see him through the unsentimental point of view of Philippa Somerville the girl that hated him for long and the circumstances are so deceptively decadent that we re ready once to place Lymond back so neatly in his little incurable rake box he s gambling at a bathhouse with a dubious personage and some nuns Could it look any debauched Yet hardly a couple of pages go by before we learn that as it s a rule in Dunnett s books nothing is as bad or as good as it appears and Lymond is really on a mission that has for a purpose to recover a child born in the Turkish harem of Dragut whose parentage is part of the plotline s mysteries Off we go then on another adventure sailing out of Lyons with a troupe including headstrong Philippa loyal and tortured Jerott ambiguous Marthe Buried even ambiguous Kiaya Khat n tightfisted Gaultier trusty Salablanca and sickly sweet solicitous Onophrion This voyage will take them along the coast of the Moslem ruled parts of the Mediterranean chasing the child Khaireddin from one place to the next barely stopping to catch their breath always finding his trace always getting within arm s reach of him and always crashing down when about to snatch him from his kidnappers It s a mad game in which the personage behind the kidnapping dangles Khaireddin as a carrot before the Scots hare to keep him racing against time and hope People die people betray people hold fast to friends and people love during this years long race that concludes in the mostxotic of places the seraglio of sultan Suleiman the Magnificent in Constantinople There Lymond and his nemesis see ach other and have to play chess with human lives it s an astoundingly brilliant scene that will put Lymond in the impossible position of playing God with living and breathing pawns He is a genius at chess yes but is ncumbered by the burden of scruples a disadvantage in this circumstance The decisions he makes are therefore sure to break the readers heart That s as much as can be said without spoiling veryone roundlyThe pace of this storyline is sprightly and rarely allows the reader moments of pause and the revelations come in so uick and fast as in a long line of ducks ready to shoot I d joked that Dunnett had pulled the rug from under me so many times that I was collecting bruises and as hyperbolic as that might sound it does illustrate how surprising the twists were I didn t xpect nor guess practically any but one which is disgraceful for my poor analytic skills but with a writer like this one I don t mind feeling all fooled and silly It s ven part of the charm of these books by this point Does it speak for the xtent of my conversion that I ve come to have an indulgent soft spot for the rhymes and the often unintelligible uotes that frustrate so many Yes that s actually happened I don t know from where they come and for the most part not ven what they re about really but there are some that I liked such as the one Lymond sings to Marthe Speaking of the female characters are strong in this narrative a very appreciated bonus in a genre that tends by one reason or another to feature mostly males To the likes of Lady Sybilla Christian and Kate from previous installments we have to add Marthe and Philippa now Both are so well defined ach in their own consistent characterisation and add the commonsense touch to the testosterone driven swashbuckling and in some instances ven save the day for the whole group Philippa to me has added a new dimension to the phrase The things we do for love that strips it of its negativity whilst keeping the undercurrent allusion to sacrifice One can t help but love her personality her practicality and no nonsense worldview a much needed anchor to reality that was so needed in these booksNo I can t do justice to this book You will have to read it and submerge yourself into the plot and see with what motions you merge at the nd To me this deserves to be widely read and appreciated so paraphrasing the wise words of Gandalf Run people run to read this now OH MY GOD MY HEART I justWHAT SO UPSETTING Every book I think it can t possibly get worse and then it DOES And A Certain Justice (Adam Dalgliesh, every book I think I can t possibly love this book series and I do I think it s been years since a book has made my cry uncontrollably like I did reading this one So heartbreaking and yet so good The plot is crazy as usual and this book like the third was action packed pretty much from start to finish All the new characters were greatspecially Marthe who is badass All the characters are so well drawn and developed and feel so much like real people. Is hidden Now his father Francis Crawford of Lymond soldier of fortune and the xiled heir of Scottish nobility is searching for him while os.
Holy smokin story I nearly had a heart attack several times and if I hadn t been at work I would ve sobbed my yeballs outAnd of course now I can t stop so planned November reads Bye bye This series is absolutely wonderful Why are people surprised that Lymond loves Of course he does so intensely he just can t show itI can t say anything at all without it being a spoilerLymond takes a gift to Sultan Suleiman in Istanbul from the King of France chasing his bastard son before the baby is murdered by the totally Cinderella Unmasked (Fairytale Fantasies evil Graham Mallett As always we see him throughveryone s yes but his New characters and old ver fascinating and richly drawn Incredible detail of the riches and cruelties of the Islamic countries of that time The looting of Hagia Sophia the maze of the Seraglio where the harem is kept the polishing of Phillippa his old friend s daughter from previous books All of it fine beautiful terrifying and achingly sad 111710 I m adding this bit from a blog post that was lifted by someone The Power Of A Choice else in a yahoo group devoted to Dorothy Dunnett because it so much says how I feelfelt about these boooks Unfortunately the lifter didn t give a source so I can tither But anyone who grows to know and love Francis Crawford of Lymond will be able to relate It s a good thing she s dead It was my friend Nora on the phone Not hello Penelope this is Nora how are you Just It s a good thing she s dead or I d kill her I d bugged Nora to read the Lymond Chronicles raving that it was the most intense reading xperience of my life Now Nora had just finished book four Pawn in Frankincense She was crying she was raging and she wanted nothing better than to throttle Dorothy Dunnett I knew how she feltLymond is my favorite sort of hero the tormented mastermind He is a poet musician mathematical genius and the greatest military mind of his day He is witty in at least a dozen languages He is also so racked by self loathing that he repeatedly tries to goad otherwise nice people into killing him He commits appalling acts for reasons that may become clear only hundreds of pages later into the story Which brings me back to Nora s phone call Dunnett inflicts some cruel sucker punches on her readers This is mbarrassing to admit but at onepoint I screamed Traitor threw the book across the room and began wailing in grief My bewildered husband tried to comfort me saying But it s only a story Only a story For the past six weeks it had been my life I have NEVER read poetry so obscure that Googling it doesn t turn up at all I can now paraphrase the Koran s injunctions on left handed people recite the names and succession of upto ten of the 16th century Grand Masters of the Hospitaller Knights use the word corybantic in conversation and probably ven play a little bit of chess And for all that my god the book still took my heart out and ate it I hate Lymond HATE him Oh Jerott Blyth I love you though The words now had meaning All poetry had meaning and sorrow she had never nvisagedIt would take a review approximately the length of the book itself to do Pawn in Frankincense justice and The Case for Paleolibertarianism and Realignment on the Right even t I have run out of stars to award and out of superlatives to describe how awesome this historicalpic by Dorothy Dunnett is The previous three books were all five stars for me but Pawn takes the game to a whole new level of Oh My God, What a Complete Aisling emotional turmoil Gone is the playful mischievous tone of the youtfull Francis Lymond Gone is for the moment his political ambition to make a name for himself and to prop up his beloved Scotland teetering monarchy This time it s personal I wish to make my fortune with you Well you can forget about that for a start said Francis Crawford And if your place in Paradise has been written then for God s sake hang on to it Because we re going in the opposite direction Note may contain spoilers from this point forward aboutvents and characters from the previous volumes i recommend reading the books in chronological orderHis Nemesis Graham Reid Mallet has been thwarted in his plans to take over the mercenary company Lymond created and forced to run away But he has promised revenge and the lynchpin of his dirty plans is Khaireddin an innocent child unknowingly fathered by Lymond in one of his past affairs The child is hidden kidnapped and then moved from one city to another all along the Arab controlled part of the Mediterranean coast leading Lymond and his companions on a wild goose chase fraught with peril the roadway to Hell alluded to in the above uote The title of the fourth novel references Khaireddin as the pawn in this latest game of deadly chess Dorothy Dunnett is constructing with frankincense as the symbol of Oriental mysteries But there is a remark by Jerott Blyth that I found relevant and with a deeper reach into Lymond motivations You summon and you throw away You treat love like a bird for the table Like a pawn now in frankincense now discarded and thrown in the dirt You don t know what love is Monsieur Pain either of you And God help us and you if youver find out I see it as a comment on Lymond s previous gamemaster role his intellectual detachment and his ruthlessness in following his plans as opposed to those driven by their motions by their passions In the beginning of the series Lymond was indeed than a bit annoying in his multiple accomplishments and arrogant superiority Chapter by chapter we watch now as he struggles to maintain his cool xterior demeanour while Gabriel strikes indiscriminately at the people around him When the control slips Lymond is deadly and towards the nd of the novel he will sacrifice his own health and sanity to put a stop once and for all to Gabriel power plays Lymond was too near the dge too near the limit of the drug the place where driven beyond their means first the body relinuished the race and then the mind Madness cometh sometime of passions of the soul as of business and of great thoughts of sorrow and of too great study and of dread The amount of suffering Lymond is forced to go through is staggering clipsing often all other considerations about the wealth of historical detail in the novel and the clever plot twists or reversal of fortunes for the secondary characters I know now how some of the other readers were pushed to throw the book at the wall in anger at reading some of the most painful scenes in the novel view spoiler I really wanted Lymond to get back together with Oonagh O Dwyer as I believed she was strong and smart and a good choice for a lifelong partner for our hero out of the several women offered as possible candidates Her gruesome fate might be a clever move in the conomy of the chess game the author is playing with us but I could have done without the pain and the sorrow of losing her Later Dare to Lead: Brave Work. Tough Conversations. Whole Hearts. even her death pales in comparison with the actual chess game using human pawns that is played between Lymond and Gabriel in the Top Kapi palace hide spoiler Oooooh boy I feel like I m at the top of a rollercoaster s first steepest drop Here I goEdit ARRRRRGH SO FUCKING GREAT EXTREMELY LENGTHY THOUGHTS TO COME LATEREdit the secondI could not stop reading this book. Pawn in Frankincense is the fourth in the legendary Lymond Chronicles Somewhere within the bejeweled labyrinth of the Ottomanmpire a child.
Also they are awesome Lymond Phillipa I missed the Crawford family but if I had my way these books would be all Crawfords having fun times instead of being motionally destroyed I m so afraid of the terrible things that I m sure are to come in the next book But I feel like starting it now SO GOOD AND YET SO UPSETTING The character of Philippa Somerville pretty well stole my heart in the second half of the prior Lymond novel The Disorderly Knights as I watched her turn from passionate Lymond hater to grudging Lymond supporter largely via her well developed sense of fair play You ve got to njoy any character who can not only admit she s wrong but take all the necessary steps to redress the wrongs she s done in thought or deed Philippa is in other words a character with character And she s not ven a grown up yet as that novel ndsIn Pawn in Frankincense she is still uite young but that doesn t stop her doing Glitter Bomb (A Scrapbooking Mystery, exactly what she wants which in this case is to take off in search of Lymond that she might continue to make up for herarlier bad opinion of him by helping him in his current uest in a way that she has decided only she can Even though she really doesn t know nothing about nursing no babies as it wereBabies Yes babies For it turns out that Lymond is a daddy having apparently fathered an illegitimate son on the lovely but perhaps slightly foolish Oonagh O Dwyer in between bouts of derring do back in ueen s Play Which son partly through Oonagh s own uestionable choices and partly through the machinations of Graham Reid Mallett revealed last novel as the Moriarty to Lymond s Holmes has been hidden away somewhere in the Ottoman Empire and as Pawn in Frankincense opens is basically being used as the titular pawn by Mallett Lymond of course claims not to care all that much about a mere by blow but he ll be damned if anybody gets used as a human shield by his Il morto di Maigret enemy Philippa though dear Philippa is not fooled and bullies her way onto the team solely by means of her advancedmotional intelligence ven though she has no idea how she can really be of help So she just starts learning stuff along the way Like oh Arabic and Turkish for a start Go Philippa goMeanwhile another remarkable woman has shown up on the scene the fabulous and nigmatic Marthe who is attached to Team Lymond as the assistant to the builder of the world s most xpensive spinet which TL is charged with delivering on behalf of the King of France remember Lymond s prior xploits on behalf of the current ueen of Scots who is also the Dauphine of France have landed him a French title Globalization: A Multi-Dimensional System, Third Edition even though he s Scottish to the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire Thus giving TL the perfect cover for looking for the baby McGuffinBut back to Marthe Marthe Marthe Marthe She is blond and blueyed and comes off as kind of cold hearted and genuinely doesn t care if other people think poorly of her and devastatingly cunning and intelligent and manipulative and cynical and sound like anyone we know I mean Sebastian and Viola called they want their bit back amiriteNo seriously amirite Because all we get are hints that somehow this French woman with a French name might possibly be somehow rather closely related to Lymond Whom by the way she cannot stand Um wow Just wowAnd it all Billionaires Contract Engagement (Kings of the Boardroom ends bizarrely and veryxcitingly in a live chess but not Doctor Who live in this case live means people used as pieces not currents of Sexual Secrets electricity running through the pieces game deep in the seraglio of the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire And things get tense and tragic And also weirdly satisfying in a way I totally did not see comingI now already want to go back to the first book and read all these again and I m notven finished with the seriesThe blurb for the next Lymond novel The Ringed Castle indicates that his next adventure is largely in Russia But with things as they ve nded here I cannot imagine how that s going to come to pass But I don t have to The brilliant the wonderful the mind boggling Dorothy Dunnett done it for meBut turns out to be not uite as young as I ve been thinking Lymond speaks of her and treats her as younger than she is for a variety of good if irritating reasons and since a lot of the fun of reading these books is being misled by Lymond well there you go At any rate as becomes clear in this novel Philippa is 15 going on 16 so probably newly nubile and given the adventures she has it s probably just as well that most verybody believes she s still a kid though of course the concept of the teenager had a few centuries before it really became a thing As such Please do me a favor and block off a significant portion of your day to finish this book ALONE I had a busy week and nded up only having time to read on the bus When it got to that scene I was finding it difficult to breathe difficult to continue reading without shaking and crying and I had to take breaks from the scene to breathe and look out of the window so I wouldn t throw the book across the crowded Ride On bus and break down into tears On the walk from the bus stop to my building I actually told myself I had to be as strong as Philippa Marthe and I held my head up high with watery yes and braved the five minute walk without having to stop and cry As soon as I was alone in the bathroom the intense motions took their tollWhat a beautiful book though Dorothy paints an xuisite background for us as we go baby hunting all across the Mediterranean and Purely Sexual end up within the gorgeous Topkapi Palace in Stamboul Istanbul Constantinople It was such fun to imagine the city in all her splendor under the reign of Suleiman the Magnificent with Rustem Pasha as the Grand Vizier We are in Jerott s head for a lot of Pawn in Frankincense and Phillippa s Phillippa comes along for the ride and we love that don t we She is so identifiable and she made the book fun with her letters back to Kate and her sweetnduring innocence Dorothy has created a handful of the strongest female characters that I have The West Transformed: A History of Western Civilization, Vol 1, to 1715 everncountered in fiction and Phillippa is our strong little pre teenteenager who nds up proving herself beyond anything I would have imagined For about a week I was convinced that I would name my first daughter Phillippa but I m starting to rethink that It s kind of a horses name isn t itLymond has so many feelings We never see them but in this book we certainly do I felt like I actually knew what was going on behind those cold beautiful blue yes for awhile there Oh my and Marthe and the poetry Ohh and this book is so gay Much gayer than the last some of it is only there if you notice it not super obvious but some of it is pretty blatant And Phillippa in the Harem Scandalous I was looking forward to witnessing an Oonagh Lymond conversation in the first half of the book and that was cruelly denied to me by Gabriel We did pick up another badass female king maker of sorts though which is Guzel Kiaya Khatun We also get Mikal as one of my new favorite minor charactersIn conclusion Lymond s parents were fucking around what will Kate say when Phillippa comes home bahhhh and will Marthe actually be kind to Jerot. Tensibly ngaged on a mission to the Turkish Sultan At stake is a pawn in a cutthroat game whose gambits include treason nslavement and murd.
hereDorothy Dunnett Society