Cascoly Books: Dorothy Dunnett - House of Niccolo

Cascoly Books - Dorothy Dunnett - House of Niccolo

These are among my top recommendations on many levels - for complex plotting and fascinating characters; for historical interest and accuracy, and for pure escapist fun
Dorothy Dunnett's Lymond Chronicles & Niccolo Series invoke the Renaissance as masterfully as Colleen McCullough portrays Rome. These books are thickly plotted, with characters who develop and mature over the course of many adventures and volumes. The history is solid, and the backgrounds highlight various less well known incidents of history -- for example, the last gasps of the Byzantine Empire from its toehold in Trabzond in the Eastern Black Sea, or the early explorations of the African coast. Dorothy Dunnett's earlier series of Lymond chronicles is another great read set in the time of Mary, Queen of Scots, the action begins along the Scottish borders but expands to the entire Mediterranean basin. Long out of print, they've been republished at last..

House of Niccolo

  •  Niccolo Rising (
  • Spring of the Ram  
    "Get Me on the Next Flight to Trabzond " was my reaction after reading this sequel to Niccolo Rising . Dunnett's blend of intricate plotting and historical depth is amazing. Here she concentrates on the little known period immediately after the conquest of Constantinople, when the Byzantine empire struggled to survive in a corner of the Black Sea. Their allies are possibly more dangerous than their enemies, making a perfect setting for Niccolo's games. In 1999, we visited Trabzond as part of a 5 week trip to Turkey, and while the modern town is rather dreary, Dunnett's descriptions of past glories were still fresh in my mind.
  • Race of Scorpions 
    The struggle for Cyprus in the 15th century. Again, her evocation of these times were one of the reasons we visited Cyprus, and walking the ruins of Famagusta recalled many incidents from the siege described in her book.
  • Scales of Gold 
  • The Unicorn Hunt
    After the comparatively linear plotting of Scales of Gold, Dunnett's back to her wonderful tricks in this book. Niccolo and friends (and enemies) continue to tear about the known world, making modern day travelers envious (although we do wind up in fewer dungeons than the resilient Niccolo). This volume starts in Scotland, but the ferment in the Eastern Mediterranean is still the focus of the plot. Dunnett has an amazing ability to weave intricate plots, then resolve or dissolve them within a few paragraphs, leaving the reader breathless. She continues to capture the essence of each country that Niccolo explores. Her descriptions of Cairo can serve as a guide for modern travelers -- having visited Cairo, her descriptions of medieval Cairo evoked memories of the khans and citadel.
  • To Lie With Lions :
  • Caprice and Rondo
  • Gemini

The Lymond Chronicles

The Lymond Chronicles -- an earlier multi volume historical fiction series that prefigures the Niccolo masterworks -- first published in the 1960's but still worth reading on its own. set in the time of Mary, Queen of Scots, the action begins along the Scottish borders but expands to the entire Mediterranean basin.

  • The Game of Kings
  • Queen's Play
  • The Pawn in Frankincense
  • Checkmate
How the Renaissance influenced the scientific revolution
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