The Game of Kings by Dorothy Dunnett

‘Lymond is back!’

1547:  Edward VI is King of England; Mary Stewart is Queen of Scotland.  Both are children. Francis Crawford of Lymond returns to Edinburgh after five years of imprisonment and exile.  He may be a nobleman, a soldier and a scholar, but he is not welcome. He is seen as a traitor: wanted for murder and treason. He has been outlawed for betraying Scotland to the English.  He is despised for having blown up a convent full of nuns.  Plenty of people, including his own brother would like to capture him.

Lymond is quick to make an impact, with his company of ruffians.  But what is his purpose in Scotland? Is he trying to seek revenge?  Or, perhaps, is he trying to clear his name?

Lymond can be a frustrating character.  He’s fond of quoting poetry, rarely lets others into his confidence and appears (at times) almost superhuman.

I first picked up this book in 1974.  I put it down without finishing it.  I was not yet ready for Lymond.

Some years later, I picked up and read a later book in the series.  Intrigued, I went back to the beginning.  Since then, I’ve read this series three times and have just started another read.

Some readers pick this book up are hooked instantly.  For some of us, it takes much longer.  But once hooked, this is a series which rewards rereading.

This is the first in Dorothy Dunnett’s six volume series ‘The Lymond Chronicles’.   Recommended, if you enjoy complex, well-written historical fiction.  But be warned: reading Dunnett can be addictive.

The six novels are:

The Game of Kings

Queens’ Play

The Disorderly Knights

Pawn in Frankincense

The Ringed Castle


Jennifer Cameron-Smith