Friday, December 16, 2022

Dorothy Dunnett’s THE SPRING OF THE RAM – Nicholas Strives to Overcome in Trebizond

This second in The House of Niccolò is set in the 15th century at the edge of the European Renaissance. It takes young Nicholas to Trebizond, the last outpost of Byzantium at the far eastern end of the Black Sea where merchants vie for the attention of the Emperor and seek to make a grand profit from silk and other goods. Leaving his wife, Marian in Bruges, Nicholas travels to Florence where he wins the respect of the Medici bankers and becomes their agent. Backed by Cosimo de' Medici, Nicholas sails with his companions to Trebizond, the last jewel missing from the crown of the Ottoman Empire.


Meanwhile, Nicholas's stepdaughter, 13-year-old Catherine de Charetty, has been seduced and seemingly married to his rival in trade: a Genoese sea pirate who races ahead of Nicholas, sowing disaster at every port to try and stop him. In addition to the man from Genoa to contend with, there is still the villain, Simon de St Pol, who Nicholas thought was his father. Nicholas is a solver of puzzles and impresses the Emperor with his unusual clock. Just when Nicholas seems to have overcome his enemies, he realizes that Trebizond may fall to the Turks and he must get the de Charetty ship and their goods out.


This is an exciting story with Nicholas having many narrow escapes and adventures as he cleverly impresses the powers over him to defeat his enemies. The research for this one was deep and that impressed me. Dunnett’s writing is like a roller-coaster, exciting and hard to put down. There are many names and gobs of characters, but I never minded. Dunnett paints the era brilliantly and brings the fictional characters to life against a real historical setting. I can’t wait to read book 3.


House of Niccolo series:


Niccolo Rising

The Spring of the Ram

Race of Scorpions

Scales of Gold

The Unicorn Hunt

To Lie with Lions

Caprice and Rondo




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