Saturday, April 1, 2023

Dorothy Dunnett’s THE UNICORN HUNT – From Scotland to Egypt to Venice, Nicholas seeks revenge and the truth—a fast-paced read!

April is Classics month and Dunnett is one of my favorites. Her stories are complex, stunningly fast-paced in places and filled with intrigue. This one is from her House of Niccolo series. I do recommend reading the series in order. All the books are closely linked.


Another wild ride from Dorothy Dunnett. This one begins in Scotland in 1468 where our hero Nicholas de Fleury (aka Nicholas van der Poele), is still burning from the horrible truth his bride revealed on their wedding night. (Gelis van Borselen, Nicholas’ wife, may be the most despicable female villain ever. What woman would go whoring to her husband’s worst enemy just to spite him?) To me, Gellis appears cold, twisted and loathsome, and, like her sister, deceived.


Nicholas seeks revenge on Simon St. Pol, the man who was her partner in crime. While about that effort, Nicholas endears himself to the court of King James III and gains yet another knighthood. Granting the dying request of Nicholas’ priest, Godscalc, he agrees to stay away from Scotland for two years. So, he puts on hold his plans for Scotland and dedicates himself to a hunt for Gelis’ son who, like the fabled unicorn, might not exist. The chase takes him to Bruges, the Tyrol, Cairo, Mt Sinai, Cyprus and eventually Venice where a dramatic but wonderful ending awaits.


Some wonderful characters emerge, including Katelijne, the niece of Anselm Adorne, who in my opinion would make Nicholas a perfect mate, as well as the regulars who come at Nicholas’ call. Dunnett weaves an intricate story only she could hold together. So many threads, you’ll lose track. But the story will keep you turning pages, I promise.


The House of Niccolo Series:


Niccolò Rising (1986)

Spring of the Ram (1987)

Race of Scorpions (1989)

Scales of Gold (1991)

The Unicorn Hunt (1993)

To Lie with Lions (1995)

Caprice and Rondo (1997)

Gemini (2000)



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