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The Dorothy Dunnett Companion: 001 Paperback – 1 Jul 2001

5.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (July 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375725873
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375725876
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 2.4 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 506,172 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


"[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

Format: Paperback
For the vast majority of us Dunnett lovers who simply lack DD's vast erudition and learning this is a 'must buy'. Here are the sources of the poems and quotations, which spark off all kinds of new avenues of exploration once you put them back into the text, as well as biographies of historical characters, places, and all the material & historical background to the Lymond and Niccolo series.

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.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
... to get the very best - particularly from the Lymond books.
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.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0x87ccee10) out of 5 stars 20 reviews
67 of 67 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x87a24b1c) out of 5 stars Finally available again! 15 Aug. 2001
By Paula E. Rabkin - Published on
Format: Paperback
The fine folks at Vintage Books have done a great favor to those of us who are longtime fans of Dorothy Dunnett's Lymond and Niccolo chronicles as well as those who have only just discovered her writing. The Companion first was published in 1994 and inexplicably was allowed to go out of print, so that the only copies available recently were used books that seemed to start around [price]...and up. Some readers of Dunnett's books might have the benefit of a classical education that allows them to understand who all the historical characters are, what all the literary allusions are to, and what all of the quotations in foreign languages mean. For all of the rest of us, Elspeth Morrison has performed the invaluable labor of tracking down Dorothy Dunnett's original sources and fleshing out the details. Dunnett's books remind me of Medieval and Renaissance tapestries--rich in intricate symbolism and detail. You can look at them and enjoy them as fine art, but when you know what the details mean, your experience is that much deeper and richer. Fervent thanks to Morrison for making this illumination available!
38 of 39 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x87a24b70) out of 5 stars A must have but . . . 6 Dec. 2004
By SCDay - Published on
Format: Paperback
Unless you are Francis Crawford reincarnate, you will need this book to get through the Lymond Chronicles (and I assume the same is true for the Niccolo series as well).

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.
25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x87a24fa8) out of 5 stars a definite "must-have" 24 Aug. 2001
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Paperback
The book is wonderful and is truly an asset to anyone who loves Dorothy Dunnett's books. All the poetry, historical references, historical figures etc are explained or translated. It is an encyclopedic addition that completes your Dunnett collection. Dorothy herself is helping with the second volume to finish up the Niccolo books and tie everything together. A definite "must-have".
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x87a36378) out of 5 stars 'A cornucopia of things informative, funny and beautiful..' 22 Feb. 2007
By Jennifer Cameron-Smith - Published on
Format: Paperback
I was fortunate to buy a copy of the Michael Joseph hardcover version of the Companion when it was first released in 1994, and have used it extensively.

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!

Jennifer Cameron-Smith
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x87a36474) out of 5 stars Disappointing 23 Aug. 2005
By history buff - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I found both of the Companions difficult to use in relation to the novels. They would have been much more helpful if Ms. Morrison would have begun with either the Lymond or Niccolo Series and followed it through with references page by page from, for example, The Game of Kings, then from Queen's Play, etc. then doing the same with the other series rather than placing all references from all books of both series at the same time in alphabetical order. Also, sometimes I would search for terms or quotes that I felt should be included based on those already in the Companions but didn't find them so do not know what the criteria was for including some and not others.
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