To Lie with Lions
To Lie with Lions
The Sixth Book of the House of Niccolo
Vintage, Paperback, 9780375704826, 672pp.
Publication Date: July 27, 1999
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, Lady Dunnett, was born in Dunfermline, Scotland in 1923, the only daughter of an engineer, Alexander Halliday, and his wife Dorothy. Whilst gifted academically and musically, she was not encouraged to further her talents by attending university, and instead joined the civil service in Scotland as an assistant press officer. In 1946, she married Alastair Dunnett, who was at the time the chief press officer to the Secretary of State for Scotland. He went on to become editor of 'The Scotsman' newspaper, whilst she later worked on a statistics handbook for the Board of Trade. After a brief spell in Glasgow, the couple settled in Edinburgh where their home became a centre for hospitality and entertaining, mostly in support of Scottish art and culture. Dunnett had also taken evening classes at the Edinburgh College of Art and the Glasgow School of Art, and from 1950 onwards she established a prominent career as a portrait painter, being exhibited at both the Royal Scottish Academy and the Royal Academy. She was also an accomplished sculptress. Her interest in writing developed during the 1950's. Her own tastes took her to historical novels and it was her husband who eventually suggested she write one of her own, after she had complained of running out of reading material. The result was 'The Game of Kings', an account of political and military turmoil in sixteenth-century Scotland. Whilst turned down for publication in the UK, it was eventually published in the USA where it became an instant best seller. Other titles, such as the 'Lymond Chronicles' and 'House of Niccolo' series followed and which established her international reputation. She also successfully turned her hand to crime, with the 'Johnson Johnson' series. He is an eccentric artist, famous for bifocals, and of course amateur detective. All of the titles in the series somehow also feature the yacht 'Dolly', despite ranging widely in location from Scotland, to Ibiza, Rome, Marrakesh, Canada, Yugoslavia, Madeira and The Bahamas. There is plenty of sailing lore for the enthusiast, but not so much it detracts from the stories genre; crime. Each of them is told by a woman whose profession explains her role in the mystery and we learn very little about Johnson himself, save for the fact he is somewhat dishevelled in appearance. Dorothy Dunnett somehow fitted in her many careers and voluntary work, along with supporting her husband's endeavours, yet still found the time to correspond widely with her readers from all over the world, and was often delighted to meet with them personally. She held the rare distinction of having a Dorothy Dunnett Readers Association formed during her lifetime and collaborated with it as much as possible. A writer who has been described as one of great wit, charm, and humanity, yet whose work displayed toughness, precision, and humour, she was appointed to an OBE in 1992 for services to literature and became Lady Dunnett in 1995 when her husband was knighted. She died in 2001, being survived by her two sons; Ninian and Mungo.
"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