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The Unicorn Hunt Hardcover – 4 Nov 1993

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 672 pages
  • Publisher: Michael Joseph Ltd; First Edition edition (4 Nov. 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0718132114
  • ISBN-13: 978-0718132118
  • Product Dimensions: 15.6 x 5 x 24 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 692,911 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Roman Clodia TOP 100 REVIEWER on 14 Dec. 2008
Format: Paperback
After the shock ending to Scales of Gold (Scales of Gold (House of Niccolo S.) ), Unicorn Hunt picks up almost straight away, and so absolutely must be read in sequence. Nicholas is in Scotland, without his wife, and to the dismay of his business partners seems to be making some impossible trading decision. Drawn into the politics of the young Scottish court, he tangles once again with Simon de St Pol and makes an enemy of Anselm Adorne. But Nicholas has a deep plan which neither we nor his associates can see and, when he is forced to leave Scotland for two years, he puts it on hold rather than abandoning it completely, and instead dedicates himself to a hunt for the son who, like the fabled unicorn, might or might not exist. The game takes him to Bruges, the Tyrol, Cairo, Mt Sinai, Cyprus and eventually Venice, where the climax takes place in a heart-stopping scene at the carnival. Do have the next volume ready, as it would be painful to stop here and have to wait for the next instalment.

In some ways this replays Pawn in Frankincense (Pawn in Frankincense ) with its thematic of the hunt for a child, but it is a deliberately intertextual link rather than a simple repeating of a plot point. And the very dissimilarities almost tells us more about the characters than the similarities. Gelis really does come into her own and while others have found her actions incomprehensible (and there's far, far more than any simple hatred, as another reviewer has mentioned, between her and Nicholas), I find her one of the most fascinating, difficult and real characters in modern fiction.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 18 Aug. 2001
Format: Paperback
In this novel we begin to realise the full extent of the hatred which Gelis has for her husband Nicholas and the lengths which she is willing to go to in order to exact revenge for her dead sister Katelina. We follow Nicholas as he travels from Scotland to the Tyrol, Cairo and Cyprus, driven to find whatever it is that he needs to know. It is uncertain whether his motivation is primarily profit or his unseen son. The cunning and capacity for plotting of Gelis are gradually exposed as she and Nicholas engage in a battle of emotional manipulation. Along the way Nicholas is forced to face up to ghosts of the past, both through the counsel of Father Godscalc and his return to Cyprus where Katelina perished. As Nicholas pursues his goal his old enemy Simon de St Pol is a constant thorn in his side, in both his business and personal affairs. Their animosity reaches a dangerous level while Nicholas is in Scotland and others become drawn into the wider consequences of their antagonism. We see a new side to Anselm Adorne, nobleman of Bruges as he attempts to control Nicholas and his tortous affairs, and wonder of Nicholas does not make yet another powerful enemy. The Unicorn Hunt will be appreciated by any readers familiar with the House of Niccolo series and Dorothy Dunnett's ability to skilfully twist the plot so that you are left wondering at every page. The evocation of time and place are unsurpassed in the historical novel genre. As a continuation of the life of Nicholas the book leaves you eager to begin the next volume and reveals some of the deeper secrets of the series concerning the main protagonists.
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The sixth book in the series and the tension and suspense doesn't let up. After a shortish sojourn in Scotland where Nicholas de Fleury, as he now styles himself, has a fight, almost to the death, with his cruel and profligate father Simon de St. Pol, in the nightmarish environs of the Salt Pans; still in Scotland, he later suffers a stab wound that is inches from fatal, delivered by Nicholas' own son Henry, at a jousting tournament. The ironies of not being recognised as a St. Pol, are compensated for by a bout of building and the buying up of land. But when Nicholas' Priest, Godscalc, makes him promise as he lies dying not to go back to Scotland, Nicholas makes a decision which leads him to the Tyrol, where he lodges with a Scottish princess who married a minor royal Duke and to a profoundly disturbing discovery that gives him an edge in his search for his newly born son, Jordan, who is being withheld from him by his wife, Gelis.

Gelis holds certain beliefs about how her sister died, after giving birth to Henry. These are quite erroneous as it happens, but because of this she harbours grave misgivings of his suitability as a father. Confusion over patrimony is also quite a feature of this book, but all becomes clear towards the end.

The African gold has still not been recovered, but now Nicholas becomes embroiled in the Bank's plans for expansion via money-lending. For much of this episode, Nicholas does not know whether his wife Gelis is alive or dead. Another enemy, David de Salmeton, has plans to be rid of Nicholas for good, but is foiled by the exploits of the sixteen year-old niece, Katelijne, of Anselm Adorne, the Magistrate of the Hotel Jerusalem in Bruges. I feel Katelijne is perhaps going to be a catalyst for Nicholas' restless and complex love-life.
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