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Carpe Librum

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Historical Novel Society

The Game of Kings (Lymond Chronicles 1) by Dorothy Dunnett

The Game of Kings - Dorothy Dunnett

3.5 stars, and, yes, I wish that I could justify more.

I wanted to love this book. With the rest of the series already sitting on my shelf in the assumption that I would love it, imagine my surprise when I had to force myself to keep reading after the first 50 pages. If it hadn't come so highly recommended or if people hadn't continuously encouraged me to hang on, it would have found it's way to the DNF pile.

If you are adventurous enough to begin this book, you will be encouraged with comments from previous readers who tell you it is all worth it. By the end of this book, which required that I also download a companion reference in order to understand it, I have to admit that it was not. Maybe I'll feel differently as I continue with the series, but as a stand alone novel, Game of Kings was disappointing.

Maybe it's just me, but I don't think a novel should require a companion reference.

I understood the links between the 16th century Stewarts, Tudors, and Douglases and am familiar with the intermingled family trees that resulted in the political escapades of this book. If you don't know that much, well, good luck.

What lost me was *every single thing that ever came out of Lymond's mouth*. He speaks in at least four languages, makes references to ancient texts, and rarely makes a statement that is uniquely his own. With the companion at my side, I could at least translate his words, but I often still didn't know why the heck he was saying it. Even after the Big Reveal, I just still didn't like this guy. Not one little bit.

Not to say that the novel doesn't have redeeming qualities and better characters. I was rooting for Richard, Lymond's brother, from the beginning and felt no differently about him once he learned The Truth. In fact, he was much more forgiving and compassionate than I would have been. We won't talk about what that means about me. Personally, I felt that there was quite a bit of collateral damage that Lymond never answered for.

Other characters had interesting stories and some great one-liners, but it just wasn't enough for me to say that I wholeheartedly enjoyed this novel. I continue to have high hopes for the series but am a little nervous to move on at this point.

If you're interested in a more concise, funny, and accessible summary of this book - seriously lots of spoilers - you can read this, which was shared with me by Marquise on Goodreads.