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The Unicorn Hunt [Hardcover]

Dorothy Dunnett
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)

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Book Description

4 Nov 1993
The fifth title in the "House of Niccolo" sequence, recreating the perilous world of trade, war and banking in Renaissance Europe. Niccolo has returned to Venice from Africa - richer, wiser yet ever unpredictable. He journeys to Scotland, closer at hand to the secrets of his birth.


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: 23.9 x 16.3 x 5.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,036,279 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
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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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superbly satisfying 14 Dec 2008
By Roman Clodia TOP 50 REVIEWER
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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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Part of the brilliant Niccolo Rising sequence 5 April 2005
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
What can I say? Dorothy Dunnett was an amazing writer - her characters are complex yet utterly believable and (almost) wholly sympathetic (the good ones, at least), her plots are intricately planned and keep turning unexpected corners, and her style of writing leads you through all this without losing a single thread of idea, character or narrative. I love these books because they require you to think in order to understand what's going on and all the subtleties of the situation and all the references to previous occasions or to character traits.
These books are also what got me interested in geography - a huge number of locations are described within, and the writing makes you want to visit them all, to visualise the book's events happening where you are standing.
Worth reading if you have any interest in historical fiction, or love complex plots and many many characters (there's a character list at the front - the one in Book 8 is 16 sides long), but DO START WITH THE FIRST BOOK - they won't make nearly as much sense otherwise.
If you find Niccolo Rising or any of the other Niccolo books difficult to read (and I did at first), try reading the Lymond Chronicles first - the plots are almost as complicated, but the characterizations, while no less believable or complex, are sometimes less ambiguous. The Lymond books generally move faster, plotwise, and are easier going and a bit more romantic (in the idealistic sense of the word, not the love sense).
Please, please, do at least try and read these books, don't dismiss them, they're really excellently written in every way. There's a good reason why Dorothy Dunnett had a diehard following of fans during her lifetime, fans from all different backgrounds and locations.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Best to read in chronological order
Not quite up to the standard of the first Niccolo book, but still excellently written, with a satisfyingly unexpected outcome.
Published 2 months ago by Pen
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Series
This is a brilliant series of books by my favourite author.
The period and geographical settings are incredible - she brilliantly captures and describes the myriad places that... Read more
Published 6 months ago by di stefano
5.0 out of 5 stars "Who sculptured Love and set him by the pool, Thinking with liquid...
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,... Read more
Published 8 months ago by Eileen Shaw
5.0 out of 5 stars Unicorn Hunt.
I love all Dorothy Dunnett's books. I love her style of writing, I admire her deep research, I love the way she weaves the lives of her characters in with real historical... Read more
Published 16 months ago by Beryl Padgham
5.0 out of 5 stars great historical fiction
First read Dorothy Dunnett 20 years ago.Every few years revist the novels and am always delighted by them.They are well plotted and rich in detail. Read more
Published on 1 Sep 2011 by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars The Unicorn Hunt
Outstanding series by an author who really knows her history and can spin a long, complicated and fascinating story over a number of novels
Published on 26 Sep 2009 by JM
5.0 out of 5 stars Staggering
Close to 850 pages of superb historical fiction? It's difficult not to wax lyrical about this book!

Our hero Niccolo has scores to settle, and he sets to work with his... Read more
Published on 16 Oct 2007 by Didier
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