To Lie with Lions
The Sixth Book of The House of Niccolo
By Dorothy Dunnett
(Vintage, Paperback, 9780375704826, 672pp.)
Publication Date: July 27, 1999
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With the bravura storytelling and pungent authenticity of detail she brought to her acclaimed Lymond Chronicles, Dorothy Dunnett, grande dame of the historical novel, presents The House of Niccolò series. The time is the 15th century, when intrepid merchants became the new knighthood of Europe. Among them, none is bolder or more cunning than Nicholas vander Poele of Bruges, the good-natured dyer's apprentice who schemes and swashbuckles his way to the helm of a mercantile empire.
The year is 1471. Within the circus of statecraft, where the lions of Burgundy, Cyprus, England, and Venice stalk and snarl, Nicholas wields a valued whip. Having wrested his little son Jordan from his estranged wife, Gelis, he embarks on the greatest business scheme of his life-- beginning with a journey to Iceland. But while Nicholas confronts merchant knights, polar bears, and the frozen volcanic wastelands of the North, a greater challenge awaits: the vengeful Gelis, whose secrets threaten to topple all Nicholas has achieved. Here is Dorothy Dunnett at her best. Robustly paced, prodigiously detailed, To Lie with Lions renders the quicksands of Renaissance politics as well as the turnings of the human soul, from love to hate and back.
Dorothy Dunnett was born in 1923 in Dunfermline, Fife, Scotland. Her time at Gillespie's High School for Girls overlapped with that of the novelist Muriel Spark. From 1940-1955, she worked for the Civil Service as a press officer. In 1946, she married Alastair Dunnett, later editor of The Scotsman.
Dunnett started writing in the late 1950s. Her first novel, The Game of Kings, was published in the United States in 1961, and in the United Kingdom the year after. She published 22 books in total, including the six-part Lymond Chronicles and the eight-part Niccolo Series, and co-authored another volume with her husband. Also an accomplished professional portrait painter, Dunnett exhibited at the Royal Scottish Academy on many occasions and had portraits commissioned by a number of prominent public figures in Scotland.
She also led a busy life in public service, as a member of the Board of Trustees of the National Library of Scotland, a Trustee of the Scottish National War Memorial, and Director of the Edinburgh Book Festival. She served on numerous cultural committees, and was a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. In 1992 she was awarded the Office of the British Empire for services to literature. She died on November 9, 2001, at the age of 78.
"Complex and entertaining . . . truly epic . . . Dunnett's great gift is to combine fascinating period settings and genuine historical events with characters of wit, deep emotion and strong desires . . . . New and old fans of Dunnett's fiction will be enthralled." --Booklist
"Gripping . . . vividly rendered . . . a dazzling portrait of Europe's courts and countinghouses in the 15th century . . . the best modern series of historical fiction." --Kirkus Reviews
"The finest living writer of historical fiction"--The Washington Post Book World