August 5th, 2011


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August Books 2) Niccolò Rising, by Dorothy Dunnett

Am grateful to James Heald for giving me this, the first of Dunnett's fifteenth century series of thick dynastic novels, set in Western Europe between Bruges, Geneva and Italy. Twenty-five years ago or more I read Dunnett's King Hereafter, about Macbeth (who she reckoned was also known as Thorfinn of Orkney) and greatly enjoyed it. Now I'm a bit older, I can appreciate the good points of Dunnett's writing - she is great at the behind-the-scenes plot threads coming together, and very good, almost theatrical, at setting out a tableau of characters in action and conversation; I didn't feel quite so confident in her sense of geography, climate or linguistics, but I enjoyed it enough that I will read the next book in due course and perhaps get onto the series as a whole. Slightly irritating that though the characters have many discussions about going to and from Louvain/Leuven, we never actually see them there - the Belgian locations are Bruges, Sluys and a field near Genappe.