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The Ringed Castle Paperback – 16 Jul 1987

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Product details

  • Paperback: 522 pages
  • Publisher: Arrow Books Ltd; New edition edition (16 July 1987)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099523000
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099523000
  • Product Dimensions: 19.2 x 12.6 x 4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,422,627 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Marshall Lord TOP 500 REVIEWER on 21 April 2006
Format: Paperback
This is the fifth book in a series which you will either love or hate. It is also one of those multi-book series which must if at all possible be read in the right order, which is

1) "The Game Of Kings: The Lymond Chronicles"
2) "Queens' Play"
3) "The Disorderly Knights: The Lymond Chronicles"
4) "Pawn in frankincense"
5) This book, "The Ringed Castle"
6) "Checkmate."

The Ringed Castle has one of the more memorable opening lines in historical fiction: "Not to every young girl is it given to enter the harem of the Sultan of Turkey and return to her homeland a virgin."

After the shattering events of book 4, "Pawn in Frankincense", Phillipa Somerville so returns to England, while Francis Crawford of Lymond goes to Russia and takes service with Ivan the Terrible.

There are two reasons why this series, and indeed the author's similar "Niccolo" series, should be read in chronological order. The first is that the plots are incredibly complicated and if you read them out of sequence you have no chance of understanding what is going on. You certainly won't get full value out of this on if you have not read "Pawn in Frankincense.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Misfit TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 10 Mar. 2008
Format: Paperback
"Not to every young girl is it given to enter the harem of the Sultan of Turkey and return to her homeland a virgin." Now that's what I call an attention getting opening! The Ringed Castle begins book #5 in the series as Philippa returns home to England a very self assured young woman and Francis has hitched his wagon to the mysterious Guzel and heads to Russia to bring Tsar Ivan and his army out of the dark ages with the aid of Francis' highly trained mercenary corps.

As Francis treads the treacherous waters of the Russian court and political intrigues, there is a traitor amongst his troop who has been hired to kill him. At the same time, Philippa is called to court to serve as lady in waiting to Mary Tudor and the delightfully evil Countess Margaret Lennox continues her intrigues against Francis and Philippa. Eventually Francis is ordered by the Tsar to leave Russia, and after a harrowing sail through the dangerous waters of the northern seas, Francis comes to London as part of Russia's trade embassy. There he is reunited with his wife, Philippa, who has stumbled across a long hidden mystery regarding Francis' paternity.

As with the first four books in the series, Francis Crawford is a fascinating hero, and is as suave, debonair, flawed and fascinating as only a 16th Century version of James Bond could be. While I thoroughly enjoyed this book, I didn't find it as fast paced as the previous four, particularly the time spent in Russia, although necessary to set up the rest of the story. What I very much enjoyed was the maturation of Philippa and she has become the perfect foil for Lymond, she matched word for word in all their verbal battles and was the highlight of the book. I am dying to read the last book in the series, Checkmate and anxiously await the answers to just who fathered Francis Crawford of Lymond. Five stars.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Roman Clodia TOP 100 REVIEWER on 26 Mar. 2008
Format: Paperback
Dunnett's dedicated fans seem to be split over this book: people either love it or hate it (perhaps that's the same with the whole series?) but personally this is my favourite in the series.

After the heated and heart-crushing journey in Pawn in Frankincense, Lymond is in Russia, building an army for the increasingly-insane Tsar Ivan (the Terrible). Like the Russian landscape itself, he is cold, frigid, icy, unreachable to either his own men of St Mary's or the potential new friends such as the navigator and explorer Diccon Chancellor. But no-one in Europe can leave him alone, not the people who love him like his estranged mother Sybilla nor those who hate him; and so Lymond is brought back to England where the fortress of his heart is suddenly breached, and no-one is more shocked than him.

Lymond is the most incrediable character you will ever meet in fiction, but a far cry from the average 'romantic' hero. These books are wonderful, opaque, frustrating and ultimately hugely rewarding but they're not an easy read. Once you start though they are the most compulsive reading ever, so set aside the time they deserve - to be read and re-read.
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By Susan Lee on 13 Nov. 2014
Format: Paperback
Amazing writer, neglected in my opinion.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 39 reviews
19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
Philippa is a great character! 14 Jun. 2001
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Most reviews of the Lymond series focus on Francis Crawford of Lymond, the enigmatic, often-tortured central character around whom all the other characters revolve. This isn't surprising because he is the central player on the stage. But my favorite character is Philippa, not just because she is genuinely good, but because whenever she enters a scene, it simply begins to sparkle.
Dorothy Dunnett obviously feels a great love for Philpipa because she gives her the best lines and gave her a marvelous sense of humor. She is a wonderful character, both funny and wise. But her greatest attribute is her strong moral character, her desire to do the right thing. In the prior novel, her desire to save Lymond's son caused to her to risk everything--not everyone would become a member of a harem in an effort to save a life. In Ringed Castle, her desire to reconcile Lymond with his family causes her to place herself at great risk.
With regard to Ringed Castle, I didn't find it as consistently compelling as Pawn in Frankincense, but it is still a wonderful book, particularly the haunting and tragic voyage back to England and the last 100 pages at the English court.
I have a tinge of sadness in the realization that I have only one more installment to see how it all ends, to see if Philippa can ultimately tame Lymond.
Luckily, this series is so strong on many levels I can look forward to many productive and enjoyable re-readings.
20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
This book has the best scene in the whole series... 7 July 1999
By Edward T. Powell - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
In Novemeber 1997 in Orinda CA, on a book tour for her latest Niccolo book, I had the pleasure to hear Dorothy Dunnett read aloud the "Revels" scene (essentially the last part of Part Three, Chapter 9 from The Ringed Castle) which is my favorite scene in the entire series. She is truly a remarkable woman, still hearty at 75, with a wit and intelligence rarely scene in real life. She told us she reads numerous (sometimes hundreds!) of history books before writing each novel to make sure that nothing in the novels contradicts anything from known history. She has created in the Lymond Chronicles the best historical fiction I have ever read, and the most compelling fiction of any genre I have ever read. When she does her book tour for the final Niccolo book in 2000, be sure to go see her--it may be your last chance to see one of the most remarkable women authors of the twentieth century.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
That's All She Read: Magnificent! 13 April 2010
By Christopher Moss - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Well, here it is, the second to last volume in the Lymond Chronicles. I shiver thinking that I have only one more before I have read them all, and Lymond will be out of my life. As if. Like just about every other nut about the series, I will read, re-read and then read a third time.

Let me just say the end of this novel is nothing like the beginning. We find Francis Crawford of Lymond and Sevigny in Ivan the Terrible's Russia. He is the supreme commander of the Czar's military forces, and by all appearances has completed his personal transformation into a cold, calculating machine. This serves him well in his present position, where ruthlessness is king. He has an unstable Ivan to manage, a resentful and murderous aristocracy to defend himself and the men of St. Mary's from, and, thank heavens, Philippa safely in England. No, wait, Philippa is never safely anywhere... but at least her attempt to join him in Russia is foiled. I would not have put it past her, but frankly I just was not ready for that.

While Lymond works to keep the Czar on task to rid Russia of the Tartars and thereby free the backward, zenophobic empire to get with the Renaissance, Philppa is a lady in waiting for the new queen, Mary Tudor. The plots and conspiracies are just too much for Philppa, who, while investigating Lymond's origins and half-heartedly seeking her annulment from him, gets herself embroiled with some dangerous folks, including the great mathematician, alchemist and astrologer, John Dee. Margaret Lenox is aiming to trip her up however she can, just to get her former boy lover's goat.

Enter a wonderful new character, the factual Richard Chancellor, one of the first navbigators to reach Russia by going north of Scandinavbia. He and Lymond become friends. Chancellor, in fact, was told by Margaret, who is riding high on the return of Catholicism to England, and who is shooting for her son, Lord Darnley, to become the next king, to warn our hero of dire consequences to himself and his loved ones if he does not come back to Scotland. Chancellor, whom she threatened to charge with heresy, does not inform Lymond until he absolutely has to, but manages to save his life during one of the promised attacks. It becomes clear that someone in either Lymond's or Chancellor's party is the culprit.

Everything starts to change when Ivan is convinced to send his best buddy and commander of all his armies to England to get Mary and her new husband, Philip of Spain, to give him weapons. After a grueling voyage and tragedy, Lymond is in London and sparring with his erstwhile bride. She has learned that he is a bastard, though the story changes a couple times as to the dramatis personae, and while the dramatic events of Bloody Mary's reign unfold, Lymond confronts his enemies and his great uncle, who, it seems, has been blackmailing his mother, something becomes apparent in Lymond. He is starting to get it. He is starting to recognize that he too has a caring nature and that there is some good to be had from the relationships in his life.

Like most Dunnett, The Ringed Castle s a mix of psychological drama, expert character development, absurd plot lines that you wouldn't miss for the world, and the totality a novel where you can't, tense and expectant, put the book down. During the reading of this volume, I went from thinking "The approapriate approach to reading Lymond is alarm, to the appropriate approach being intense anxiety. This magnificent self-destructive, brilliant, infuriating man is capable of anything, no matter how splendid or ridiculous.

I told someone the other day that the Lymond chronicles are like Mt. McKinley in Alaska. When you look for it on the horizon you see the mountain range. Scanning it you try to detect the tallest peak. None seem to top the others. Then.. you look above the clouds, and there, towering over the rest and as wide as several together, is McKinley. The Lymond Chronicles are to all other books I have read what McKingley is to the other mountains. No comparison.

I received this book from the Library for the Blind, unfortunately on one of their old cassettes. Four sides of it had about an eight minute gap thanks to a twisted tape. I look forward to when they get the Dunnett books onto the digital media where such problems are -- almost -- impossible.

OK, time to grit my teeth and send for Chckmate, volume six of the six-volume Lymond Chronicles

From That's All She Read, by Nan Hawthorne, [...].
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Incredible Craftsmanship 14 Dec. 2000
By S. Schwartz - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This book has less action in it than the preceeding novels in this series, but even so, more action than most. We see our hero making his way in an 15 Century Russia. As each book goes by I find that I have difficulty maintaining a liking for this man. He is extremely hard and bitter, and appears to have no loyalties to friendship while he tries to make his point. Even so, I find I still have to keep reading because these books are so powerful. In this book Lymond falls in love, but in true Lymond fashion, feels that he can't share this with anyone, let alone his lady love. I await with much trepidation the final installment in this series in order to find out if Lymond bears any human characteristics or not.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Riviting. Each book as engaging as the first. 27 Jun. 1998
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
In The Ringed Castle, Dunnett expands her screen. The 16th Century was a time when the world was tittering and swaying on the edge of a global world. Lymond, in Russia, and in his relationship with Chancellor seems to be aware of this and be reaching for something much bigger even than Russia. They both seem to be sailing into the age of Englishtment and the voyage is lethal and dangerous. Within 100 years, that complex world they know will be utterly destroyed and replaced with something much more grim. In this book Lymond finally falls in love. (I also wish Dunnett would include translations for her non-bilingual readers.) I, personally, don't think I have ever been more enthralled by a hero.
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