Book: The Unicorn Hunt by Dorothy Dunnett

Excellent fifth book in a series of historical novels set in the early renaissance

Dorothy Dunnett
The Unicorn Hunt
Vintage, 1999 (originally published in 1993)
ISBN: 0-375-70481-7
656 pages

The Unicorn Hunt is the fifth book in the seven-book "House of Niccolò" series of historical novels by Dorothy Dunnett. (Reviews of the previous books in the series are at: 1, 2, 3, 4.) The books are set in the early Renaissance and the main character is Nicholas vander Poele, who begins in Bruges as a dyer's apprentice with a mind for figures and a knack for mimicry. He goes on to have some very interesting adventures.

Little needs to be said here. No one should begin the series except at the beginning and fans of the series will not be surprised to be told that this book is at least as good as the four that have preceded it. Some spoilers for the previous books follow.

As the book begins, Nicholas is in Scotland, which is ruled by the young James III. Nicholas is now going by his mother's surname, de Fleury. Scotland is a bit primitive compared to Bruges and the other tidy Flemish cities ruled by the Duke of Burgundy, but it's very pretty and a good place for Nicholas's business empire to expand. (Rather better than England, where they're busy having the Wars of the Roses.) Being in Scotland also provides Nicholas with the opportunity to pursue his feud with Simon de St Pol. Both plans begin pretty well, but nothing can be straightforward for NIcholas and of course he ends up going off in an entirely different direction. Happily for the reader, Nicholas's unplanned adventures are even more interesting than the ones he plans.

As usual with the series, the women characters are generally more interesting, especially in their motivations, than the men. But that's not important.

Posted: Wed - November 11, 2009 at 06:01 PM   Main   Category: