I came back this year promising Lymond and have so far delivered none…. so here goes:
An infamous man returns to sixteenth-century Scotland. Six years previous he sold secrets to the English that almost destroyed the Scottish army, and rumour hints at darker and worse.
The first thing he does on his return is to nick all his brother’s silver and set the house on fire – with the mother he hasn’t seen for six years still inside.
So begins the story of the best anti-hero I have ever read.
Lymond is charismatic and intelligent – he comes complete with obscure literary references for any and all occasions – and incredibly cold. This uncanny self-possession that encases the mind and soul of a genius is just as compelling to a reader as it is to his various followers and detractors.
It isn’t an easy to series to get into, because within the first pages you encounter that odd sensation of having to really think, just to figure out what’s going on. As Lymond and his Machiavellian schemes unroll with stunning precision, so the reading experience becomes a quest to connect the dots and apply your mind to the riddle of the subtext.
Two characters have an ordinary conversation. One reacts in an extreme way. Stop. Rewind. What the hell were they actually talking about?
This happens to me all the time, reading Lymond.
Because Dunnett is a genius for plotting and for inscrutable, irresistible characters, I’m going to follow up with a series of posts trying to figure out how the hell she does it.