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Not quite a year after I read the first in this series, I've read the second, and have certainly worked up an appetite to read the rest now. Niccolò, the Flemish apprentice-turned-magnate of the first book, is sent on a mission of cut-throat mercantile competition to Trebizond, the only surviving point of the Byzantine Empire; but the year is 1461, and Trebizond's time is also running out. There's some very skeevy (though not at all explicit) underage sex in this book, though our hero nobly stands aside from it; there's also a lot of appropriately byzantine political conspiracy, with tendrils reaching from Georgia to Scotland in a beautifully drawn pattern of entanglement. It's all very lush and convincing, and just as I was wondering if Niccolò would ever actually lose any of the conflicts he gets involved with, I was blindsided by one of the several twists at the end. Good stuff.

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( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
tchernabyelo
Jul. 27th, 2012 08:27 pm (UTC)
Overall, my feeling is that the Niccolo series somewhat tails off, particularly the last couple of books, in contrast to the Lymond cycle which really hits its stride in the four closely-linked final books (the first two being much more standalones). But the first four Niccolos in particular are very fine.

There is indeed a lot of ambiguity in the handing of sex - both the underage stuff you mention and also the homosexuality - but then Dunnett excels in ambiguity in interpersonal relationships.

She's still one of the biggest influences on my writing - I would love to do a fantasy version of a DUnnett series...

saare_snowqueen
Jul. 27th, 2012 10:15 pm (UTC)
Dunnett is one of my favourite authors. I have all the volumes in the House of Niccolo and Francis Crawford series - and reread them regularly.
alitheapipkin
Jul. 28th, 2012 10:40 am (UTC)
I have the last two of this series still to read and they have gone straight into my all-time favourite series' list. I utterly adore them, and not just because they inspired the 7th Sea game I'm currently playing and loving to pieces.
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )

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