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To Lie with Lions: The Sixth Book of the House of Niccoloby Dorothy Dunnett
Synopses & Reviews
AMONG THE RICHER class of dealers and traders, the kidnapping of the heir to a bank signifies trouble. Some investors snatch back their ducats at once, assuming that half an ear and a ransom note are about to arrive at the counting-house. Those with propositions to make do not make them. Invitations drop off. The market oscillates; the Bourse proceeds to lose bottom.
Finding itself assailed by such rumours in Venice, the Banco di Niccol? took immediate measures to quash them. Fortunately, its management was adroit. Business clients were calmed by Gregorio, the company lawyer. The well born were embraced by the handsome notary Julius, and left heartened. The heir to the Banco di Niccol?, they all learned, was aged two. And the kidnapper was the Bank's founder himself, the child's legitimate father.
The client was occasionally puzzled. 'Ser Niccol?, you say, stole away his own son?'
'Following a disagreement with the lady his wife. An irrational impulse. Ser Niccol? will tire of the boy in a week.'
'Tell me if he does, ' said one client at least. 'He can have my son instead. I would pay to have the turd stolen. And meanwhile, the Bank goes on as usual?'
'As usual, ' the notary Julius always agreed, tilting his classical head and occasionally smoothing the silk on his uppermost knee. 'That is, Master Gregorio will be in Venice, as always. I may have to go to Cologne.'
That was between February and March.
The news spread.
The Duchess Eleanor of the Tyrol heard the tale from a band of noble pilgrims from Venice on their way home to Bruges in the Low Countries. Their leader Anselm Adorne broached the subject. 'You will have heard. Nicholas de Fleury has disappeared. A dispute over a child. I am sure his company will keep you informed of it.'
'Nae doubt, ' said the Duchess, who was Scottish. They had been hunting from her castle of Brixen. She finished feeding her dogs and, wiping her hands, picked up her embroidery. Despite her lack of youth and her girth, she was as adept in the field as she was at fending off probes about mineral rights. She said, 'And how's the wife taking it then? Glad to get rid of them baith?'
'Glad ' exclaimed Adorne's son drolly. Adorne's niece Kathi screwed up her face.
'Katelijne?' encouraged the Duchess.
'Gelis is very sad, ' said the girl.
'Sad. Deary dear, ' said the Duchess. 'Mind you, that's a handful, that fellow Nicholas. And you're a mite peaky yourself, my wee lass. Come to me later, and I'll find ye a potion. And how did ye manage on Cyprus? Is yon feckless lad Zacco properly married yet?'
That was in the middle of March.
The King of Cyprus, who was not properly married yet, heard the news in the third week of March, in the hills where he was hunting with leopards. Two days later, his party somewhat depleted, he rode back to Nicosia and called to the table the envoys of Venice, of Rhodes, and of all those other peoples who were immediately threatened by Turkey.
'It appears, ' said Zacco, of Cyprus, 'that despite all he promised, the padrone of the Banco di Niccol? is not to fight at our side. De Fleury has fled. He has abandoned us, and his God. I cast him off. I wait to hear what you offer instead.'
The man from Cairo sighed; the Venetians shuffled; and the Treasurer of the Knights of St John muttered under his
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 Niccol 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.
The sixth volume in the popular The House of Niccolo series, this vivid novel of the 15th century centers on Nicholas vander Poele who, in 1471, is acclaimed by all the great courts of Europe, but whose personallife is tumultuous. He and his passionate rival--his wife--embark on a deadly competition for control of their mutual destiny.
From the Hardcover edition.
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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