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Queens' Play: Second in the Legendary Lymond Chroniclesby Dorothy Dunnett
Synopses & Reviews
The Fork Is Chosen
The cauldron is exempt from its boiling when the food, the fire and the cauldron are properly arranged, but that the attendant gives notice of his putting the fork into the cauldron. That is, but so he warns: 'Take care, ' says he. 'Here goes the fork into the cauldron.'
She wanted Crawford of Lymond. His nerves flinching from the first stir of disaster, the Chief Privy Councillor understood his mistress at last.
Regal, humourless, briskly prosaic, the Queen Dowager of Scotland had conducted the audience with her usual French competence and was bringing it to its usual racing conclusion. She was a big woman, boxed in quilting in spite of the weather, and Tom Erskine was limp with her approaching visit to France.
To the most extravagant, the most cultured, the most dissolute kingdom in Europe the Queen Mother was shortly to sail, and her barons, her bishops and her cavalry with her. And now, it appeared, she wanted one man besides.
The Queen Mother was a subtle woman, and not Scots. The thick oils of statesmanship ran in Mary of Guise's veins, and she rarely handed through the door what she could throw in by the cat's hole. So she talked of safe conducts and couriers, of precedents and programmes, of gifts and people to meet and to avoid before she added, 'And I want intelligence, good intelligence, of French affairs. We had better place some sort of observer.'
Her Privy Councillor had never found her foolish before. From the Duke de Guise downwards, every member of that privileged family, with its quarterings of eight sovereign houses, its Cardinals, its Abbesses and its high and influential posts at the French Court, might be worldly, might be charming, would almost certainly be a congenital gambler; but would never be foolish.
These were the Queen Dowager's brothers and sisters-good God, where better could she go for intimate news? Granted, it was now twelve years since, a young French widow, she had come to Scotland as King James V's bride, and eight years since he died, leaving her with a war, a baby Queen and a parcel of rebellious nobles. True, again, that she would be watched, by her Scottish barons no less than by the enemies of her brothers in France. Only, for a French King, however friendly, to find an informer at Court would be disaster.
Erskine said aloud, 'Madam . . . you are supposed to be joining your daughter, nothing else.'
'-Some sort of observer, ' she was repeating, quite unruffled. 'Such as Crawford of Lymond.'
With an elegant yellow head in his mind's eye, and in his ears a tongue like sword cutler's emery, Tom Erskine said bluntly, 'His name and face are known the length of France. And I'm damned sure he'll not be persuaded.' Notoriously, at some time, every faction in the kingdom had tried to buy Lymond's services. Nor was the bidding restricted to Scotland, or to statesmen, or to men. Europe, whenever he wished, could provide him-and probably did-with either a workshop or a playground.
The Queen Mother's manner remained bland. 'He is possibly tired of trifling at home?'
'He isn't dull enough to commit himself to a contract.'
'But he might come to France?'
Oh, God 'To entertain himself, ' said Tom Erskine warningly. 'But for nothing else.'
The Queen Mother smiled, and he know that he had misjudged her again, and that, as usual, streets and palace
Francis Crawford of Lymond finds his life in peril when he becomes caught up in the political intrigues in Scotland during the sixteenth century and comes to the aid of a young Queen Mary, who is being groomed for marriage to the dauphin of France. Reprint. 20,000 first printing.
For the first time Dunnett's Lymond Chronicles are available in the United States in quality paperback editions.
Second in the legendary Lymond Chronicles, Queen's Play follows Frances Crawford of Lymond who has been abruptly called into the service of Mary Queen of Scots. Though she is only a little girl, the Queen is already the object of malicious intrigues that extend from her native country to the court of France. It is to France that Lymond must travel, exercising his sword hand and his agile wit while also undertaking the most unlikely of masquerades, all to make sure that his charge's royal person stays intact.
About the Author
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.
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