The Dorothy Dunnett Companion: 001 Paperback – 1 Jul 2001
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"[Dunnett is] the finest living writer of historical fiction." "The Washington Post Book World""
From the Inside Flap
Here is a lovingly assembled, essential A-Z companion to Dorothy Dunnett's brilliant Lymond Chronicles and the first five novels in the House of Niccolo series.
Elspeth Morrison has re-created the author's exhaustive original research, documenting her myriad sources and literary references. Foreign phrases are translated; poems and quotations presented in full; historical figures and events fleshed out; subtle allusions-and there are many-noted. From the origins of the Arabic drink "qahveh to a recipe for quince paste, from the medical uses of ants and alum, to Zacco, Zenobia, and Zoroaster, this easy-to-use A-to-Z reference richly illuminates the intricacies of the complex and far-flung Renaissance world Dorothy Dunnett's creations so colorfully inhabit.
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Top Customer Reviews
The only problem is that it stops mid-way through the Niccolo series so you do have to buy the second companion as well, but it's such a fascinating resource even for just dipping into that I can't see that as a hardship.
Buy it and enjoy.
Dear Francis is just so EDUCATED that we mere mortals need something like this to figure out the finer points of, Ms Dunnett's Lymond Chronicles.
Fortunately for the reader, Nicholas de Fleury was an apprentice dyer in his youth so the notes for the Niccolo books mostly pertain to Medieval personalities, geography and politics.
For the Lymond Chronicles, however, the stories include poetry and philosphy in a variety of tongues including Irish, Arabic, French etc. which, to make things even more complicated, are displayed in their Medieval forms.
The stories do, of course, stand alone without an understanding of the quotations but, once understood, they add a fresh dimension and additonal colour to the story.
Well worth the money.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
I constantly found myself looking up songs, quotations, names, etc. that came up in the six books.
The book is well researched and obviously a labor of love on the part of Ms. Morrison.
The one problem and I think it is substantial was the decision to provide entries in an alphabetical format rather than a format that followed the books.
The book would be much more helpful if it was arranged so that entries appeared in the order they appeared in the books -- so the entries that appeared in the Game of Kings would come first, followed by Queen's Play and so on -- rather than in alphabetical order where there are quotes from a Pawn In Frankincense next to a quote from Checkmate next to a quote from Disorderly Knights.
This would make it easier to use as a companion to the books as you are reading -- instead I have to put down the book, pick up the companion and look up the quote. This may sound petty and if there were only a few quotes to look up that may not be so bad -- but when there are dozens and dozens (Checkmate is brimming with quotes) it slows the reader down tremendously and forces them out of the rigorous concentration required.
Having said that -- the book remains a necessity -- If you are going to read the Lymond Chronicles (and I highly encourage you to do so) buy this book - you should have this with you at all times. It is well researched and fairly comprehensive.
I just wish it was in a different format.
The first Companion was published before the last books in the House of Niccolo and so it only covers the Lymond Chronicles and the first five books of the House of Niccolo. While written as a comprehensive guide to Lymond and Niccolo, the Companion gives us some history, literature and - thankfully - translations of some references that are obscure to many readers.
The Companion can be enjoyed on three levels:
a glimpse into the research undertaken by Lady Dunnett;
a starting point for some of the historical events and people introduced into the novels; and
as 'a cornucopia of things'.
I like the layout. It invites me to browse. I go to find one reference, and emerge at least half an hour later having been side-tracked by all manner of things. Such is the world of Dunnett!
It is well worth acquiring a copy of this version of the Companion if you were not able to obtain a copy of the first edition. Volume II complements this book, it does not replace it.
Highly recommended to all Dunnett fans!