Pawn in Frankincense by Dorothy Dunnett

Pawn in Frankincense cover

Pawn in Frankincense by Dorothy Dunnett was first published in 1969 and it’s the fourth book in her Lymond series.

To begin with I had a look at the chapter headings to see where the story was set because I much preferred the Scottish parts of the last book, so I was slightly down-hearted when I realised that it was almost all set in the near/middle east. But I needn’t have been as this was a great read.

The year is 1552. In the last book Lymond discovered that a woman he had had a brief relationship with had given birth to a son, but they’ve been captured and he’s intent on tracking them down.

An old soothsayer has given him hope that his quest will be succesful. At the same time he plans to seek out Sir Graham Reid Mallett and give him his comeuppance.

As ever with Dunnett there’s plenty of action and intrigue, right up to the very end.

I’m not doing very well with my Scottish reading so far this year, this is only the second book I’ve read by a Scottish author – must do better.

4 thoughts on “Pawn in Frankincense by Dorothy Dunnett

  1. I’m glad you still liked this one even though it isn’t set in Scotland. This is not my favourite of the series because it’s such a dark story and because I missed some of the characters from the previous books, but it’s certainly unforgettable – especially the chess game!

    • Helen,
      That chess game was so tense. I’m just glad that I didn’t read these books at the time they were first published. I would have hated to have to wait that long for the next one.

  2. I read this when it came out, many years ago. I was a teenager and passionately in love with Lymond. Before reading the book, I did the unforgivable and looked at the end – had he survived? Yes, he had, and all would be well.
    So I was completely unprepared for the traumatic, heart-wrenching scene (yes, at that chess game) that had me sobbing inconsolably into my pillow at four o’clock in the morning. There are some wonderfully beautiful scenes in the book – I’m thinking particularly of the poppies, but it’s also terribly sad. Dunnett really did like to put her readers, and her characters, through the mill, but in Francis Crawford she wrote possibly the most compelling, charismatic and amazing hero in all fiction. Oh, and by the way, I’m still in love!

    • Pam Thomas.
      I was just thinking as I read it that as it’s called the Lymond series it must mean that he survived, a luxury that readers didn’t have back when it was first published. It sounds like you must have re-read them over the years. I’m just wondering why these books were never dramatised for TV or in film. Mind you I don’t know who could have played Francis Crawford!
      Thanks for dropping by and taking the time to comment.

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