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Cyprus is partitioned between feuding rulers, one a proxy of distant Christian Europe, the other beholden to the more local Muslim regional power; the larger part of of the island is controlled by one faction, but the key cities of Famagusta and Kyrenia are in the hands of the minority.

However it's not 1974, or any year since, but 1463, and Dorothy Dunnett's Flemish hero Niccolo gets drawn into the dynastic dispute between the legitimate (but losing) heiress Carlotta, and her very handsome half-brother James. There are beautiful women and fierce battles, and terrific derring-do; there is a brilliant scene with chemically impregnated clothes and a valley filled with snakes; there is gut-wrenching, understated tragedy as Niccolo works through his own complex family back-story against the foreground of the Lusignan succession. It's brilliant stuff.

In addition, anyone who actually knows Cyprus will find it particularly attractive. For the same reason as Dunnett's hero, I have an affinity with the Gothic cathedral in Famagusta; much of the rest of the landscape, and a surprising amount of the architecture, is familiar even today - it may be that the same is true of the scenes in Burges or Rhodes, which I know rather less well. It's not essential to enjoying the book, but it adds some much appreciated colour.


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 26th, 2014 06:13 pm (UTC)
Dunnett plotted the Niccolo series by marking up a map of Europe with all the places the most interesting things happened during the fifteenth century, and deciding which ones she fancied visiting. She then spent the next decade or so visiting those places on her research budget.

That's what she said the one and only time I saw her live, anyway.
Sep. 26th, 2014 06:53 pm (UTC)
I always love it when people love books I love too :)

And yes, Hubby & I spent our honeymoon going round all the locations in Bruges from the books, she definitely did her research.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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