Monday, January 24, 2022

Dorothy Dunnett’s THE RINGED CASTLE – Lymond is in Russia and Philippa is in England, worlds apart.


This 5th in the Lymond Chronicles takes our hero, Francis Crawford of Lymond, from Queen Mary’s Catholic England to the Russia of Ivan the Terrible, a rather erratic and cruel leader. In Russia, Lymond proves his worth as he forges a new army for the Tsar and becomes the general above all.


The winter scenes in Russia with its vast white wilderness are stunning. Lymond acquires an eagle that tests his strength and he plays a dangerous game of chess with the Tsar. His desire is to civilize Russia but he knows they need a strong defense first. Honing their skills, his army conquers the Tartars. Meanwhile, England and her rulers have not forgotten him and would use Phillipa, his bride of convenience, for their own purposes.


One has to love Phillipa. She is smart, witty, courageous and inventive—the perfect wife for Lymond. Not that he can see it, of course. Forced to come to England on a mission for the Tsar to acquire weapons for the army, Lymond becomes involved in the plots surrounding the English throne. And he comes up against his bride’s inner beauty and the fact men in Queen Mary’s court desire her above others. But Phillipa us still Lymond’s wife. European politics will delay their annulment.


I have to say that I liked Lymond less in this of the 5 stories I have read thus far. He was more cruel, more indifferent to his family, his young son, his men and to Phillipa. But we shall see.


The writing is brilliant and engaging even if Dunnett did lose me in a few places. Lots of names to remember and parts in other languages not translated. But the adventures never stop.

Another wonderful installment in the Lymond Chronicles: 

The Game of Kings

Queens’ Play

The Disorderly Knights

Pawn in Frankincense

The Ringed Castle



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