Book: To Lie With Lions by Dorothy Dunnett

Excellent sixth book in eight-book series of historical novels set in early Renaissance Europe

Dorothy Dunnett
To Lie with Lions
Vintage, 1995
ISBN: 0-375-70482-5
626 pages

To Lie with Lions is the sixth book in Dorothy Dunnett's eight-book "House of Niccolò" series of historical novels. (Reviews of the previous books in the series are at: 1, 2, 3, 4. 5.) The series is set in Europe in the early Renaissance and the main character of the series is Nicholas vander Poele (who is now going by the surname de Fleury). He begins as a dyer's apprentice in Bruges with a head for figures and a knack for mimicry. In the course of the books he goes on fascinating and astonishing adventures. It is an indication of Ms Dunnett's skill that it sometimes appears that the history of early Renaissance Europe was arranged for her convenience.

Little needs to be said here. No one should begin the series except at the beginning and readers of the series who have gotten this far will not be surprised to be told that the book is at least as good as its predecessors. Significant spoilers for the previous books follow.

At the end of the previous book, The Unicorn Hunt, Nicholas disappeared in a ship with his son Jordan from Venice during Carnival. As this book begins, Nicholas, his son, and his son's nurses are sailing slowly to Marseilles. Nicholas's wife, Gelis, had kept Jordan from Nicholas for the first two years of his life and now Nicholas is keeping him from her, at least temporarily. Nicholas uses the time on board the ship to get acquainted with Jordan and begin to become friends. After some minor adventures, Nicholas, Gelis, and Jordan are reunited in Scotland, though Nicholas and Gelis are far from being reconciled. Nicholas, artificer that he is, puts on an elaborate play to everyone's delight, including the king's.

Then there's a fishing expedition to the north which ends up involving an overland journey (readers of the series will know to expect an arduous one). Then it's back to Venice, but there's a stop to make on the way. You'll get the idea that a great deal happens in the book's 600-odd pages. And there's a very dramatic scene at the book's end.

Posted: Sat - December 26, 2009 at 09:08 PM   Main   Category: