Read checkmate by Dorothy Dunnett Online


For the first time Dunnett's Lymond Chronicles are available in the United States in quality paperback editions.Sixth in the legendary Lymond Chronicles, Checkmate takes place in 1557, where Francis Crawford of Lymond is once again in France, leading an army against England. But even as the Scots adventurer succeeds brilliantly on the battlefield, his haunted past becomesFor the first time Dunnett's Lymond Chronicles are available in the United States in quality paperback editions.Sixth in the legendary Lymond Chronicles, Checkmate takes place in 1557, where Francis Crawford of Lymond is once again in France, leading an army against England. But even as the Scots adventurer succeeds brilliantly on the battlefield, his haunted past becomes a subject of intense interest to forces on both sides.From the Trade Paperback edition....

Title : checkmate
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9492849
Format Type : Kindle Edition
Number of Pages : 610 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

checkmate Reviews

  • Algernon
    2019-04-15 01:58

    A heady experience, for an only child accustomed to single-thread happiness, and not to the moment of creation that occurs when the warp is interlocked with the weft. When the singer is matched with the sounding-board; the dream with the poet. When the sun and the fountain first meet one another.Side by side they were evading, she and Francis Crawford, a pack of men who intended to kill them. About time we got to the romance part of this 'historical romance' series. Adventures and battles and journeys to distant lands we had aplenty. But the hero's heart remained throughout uncommited. A more accurate description would be that his heart was the best kept secret of Lymond's life. Understandably so, seeing as most of the people he cared deeply about had been removed from the board of these deadly chess games with human pawns we have witnessed in five sprawling volumes. (view spoiler)[ "Diccon and Salablanca, Tosh and Christian Stewart; Oonagh; Will Scott and his father; Turkey Mat and Tom Erskine; the dog Luadhas; the child Khaireddin ... What shall I say to your son when I meet him? Don't be surprised: your sire loved me also?" is a bittersweet reminder of the characters I have come to care so much about, and who are missing from the final roll call(hide spoiler)]. The last book also uses the chess terminology to describe the endgame, the finish line : I am tired of journeys. It is time I arrived somewhere.confesses Lymond at last, his frantic energy amnd mental control having reach their limits and passed beyond into territories of such anguish and self doubt no human being should experience. Dunnett has been merciless with her main character, foiling one ambitious plan after another, removing everybody he trusted from his anturage, practically blackmailing Lymond into acting like a puppett (a pawn at last) in a game of kings. The plot here has two major threads:I - the war between France and the Papacy on one side versus England and Spain on the other. Lymond is forced to take command of the French troops, which he does brilliantly, on the promise he would receive an annullment to his fake marriage and be allowed to disappear into the Russian steppe. He wants out of the game, badly, but everyone else is keen in keeping him busy at what he does best - strategic mayhem. He is thoroughly disillusioned with war and power plays: I began, as you did, by defending my country. Then, disinherited, I had to follow the only profession I knew. There are only two roads to power: the Church, and the army; and there are villains in both. It is a moot point which does the most harm. II - the quest to uncover the secret of Lymond's birth, an investigation that he both dreads and wants to be rid off, a mystery whose key is to be found in a little townhouse in Paris. Philippa Somerville is often the prime engine of this particular search, but the more she gets involved in Lymond's life, the more she is danger of sharing in his pain and in his apparent curse of hurting the people he loves the most.For readers already familiar with the previous five books, the identity of Lymond's intended partner is no surprise. She has been built up strongly in the last three books, to bring her to a level of competence and erudition that could stand up to the famous talents of her beau. But don't expect a conventional love story, it would go against everything Dunnett has been forging here. Her chess pieces will be mauled, and burned and blown to pieces, literally and emotionally, just as they have been in each of the previous books. A happy ending seems as far fetched for the lover's prospects as a trip outside the Solar System. The passage I have started my review with is an isolated incident of merriment and passion and riotous adventure in a novel that turns out much darker and painful than even the Constantinople reconning inPawn in Frankincensethe high mark of the series for me.I can't say more without spoiling the final resolutions. Suffice to say it was SPECTACULAR, a fitting ending to a series that has captured my imagination and held me in thrall for most of the second half of 2013. I actually finished the book two and a half months ago, but I kept putting off writing down a review, both out of despair at trying to capture the whole canvas in a couple of paragraphs, and out of a reluctance to say goodbye to the characters and to the world of Renaissance Europe. The best epitaph I could come up with is another quote from the book describing Francis Crawford of Lymond, the heroic figure around whom everything else revolves: No one, once they met him, could remain the same.

  • Marquise
    2019-04-14 06:02

    Is it logical to be this sad about the “happy ending” of a book? The very phrase sounds like a contradiction in itself, as happy endings are supposed to make you happy, and the sensitive ones might shed some tears too, but essentially ‘tis supposed to make you feel satisfied, elated about the conclusion. And yet . . . Scratching your heads already? There’s a reason for this, not related to the ending proper. Rather, it’s about the voyage towards that ending, the harrowing path leading to that moment of happiness on the verge of the curtain’s fall, that leaves a bittersweet taste with a slight prominence of the bitter part. There’s a satisfactory ending, and there’s merriment, yet the price of victory has been so dizzyingly high; to arrive there, the dues had to be paid sometimes in blood, other times in losing that which one wanted most. To defeat Sauron, Frodo has to be broken. To defeat his arch-nemesis, Lymond has to sacrifice an innocent’s life . . . You get the point. Sacrifice is perhaps the undercurrent theme in this final volume, in my opinion. Not a new theme; it’s been there since the first book, when Lymond loses the first of his men in service and the first of his women. The book opens with our hero in trouble once more, for a woman that he has just rediscovered after years at the most unfortunate of timings, for all he wants now is to resume his job as Voevoda Bolshoia of Russia and thinks he needs no skirts round him. Kings care nothing for those pesky trifles called other people’s sentiments, however; not when they have the whole of Spain and England happily crushing their armies and they happen to know the best general in Europe is in the dominions masquerading as—what else?—a travelling singer. One would think Francis would’ve learnt that to impersonate bards in France won’t be working a second time, but good Scotsman that he is, if somethin’ isna workin’, by gods ye stick to it, lad! Unsurprisingly, he is caught and persuaded with those so kingly methods of persuasion known as blackmail and threats to accept the job of Lieutenant-General to Henri II for a year, in exchange for a pontifical solution to all his women issues. Problem is, when your women issues are called Sybilla, Philippa and Marthe, you need the combined efforts of Dunnett and God instead of the King of France and the Pope. Lymond is soon joined by his ladies at varying points in the timeline of his stay in France, and what ensues is the succession of events I hinted at, which will have the reader on edge. Chief amongst those, the highlights would be the mystery of his parentage, so convoluted that I attempted many guesses at it, all failed, and that affects Lymond more than expected. Suffice to say that there’s a reason for Dunnett’s subtle and not-so-subtle stressing on the name Francis Crawford of Lymond and Sevigny, in all its variations. Next would be that our Comte de Sevigny reveals a new layer we’d not seen but that’d been glimpsed in the two last books before this one. I was hardly halfway through the whole series when I said in passing that Lymond’s story was in need of three things: a loyal friend to rely on, an arch-rival to fight, and someone to love. Sweet summer child that I was, didn’t imagine it’d develop this way, with Lymond feeling so unworthy and his deep-seated self-loathing. Not that I blame him one whit, after the experiences he has had it’s not that complicated to understand his reasons for valuing himself so low in this regard; “I too have had my Margaret Lennox, my Aga Morat, and my Joleta Reid Malett,” as Güzel so wisely put it. With such a burden on, I suffered alongside him more than in all the volumes combined, and many times the desire to curse heartily in all the languages I know was barely stifled by the presence of a casual audience round me. Throughout the long plotline, the author spares Lymond no amount of pain, physical and emotional, pushing him over the cliff thrice—yes, three times—and all of them bound to shock. Please, Dame Dorothy, for the love of the Almighty, if this is going to end in tragedy, at least give him an epic and painlessly quick death, yes? But of course the brilliant lady isn’t going to listen, and just when I had already abandoned all hope, resigned myself to the gloomiest of gloomy ends, and had the ice cream and paper tissues nearby, there this small ray of sunlight breaks through so unexpected and welcome. Of course, I can’t tell what it was, but I can tell that said scene is one I read, re-read and read again after re-reading. Right now, as I write this review, I am re-reading it. Boy, does it compensate for belabouring across the previous five hundred pages!Yes, it’s bittersweet. There are so many good friends fallen and dear characters missing, unfairness left unpunished, mistakes that can’t be righted but accepted, needless sacrifices that could’ve been avoided, and Francis Crawford of Lymond and Sevigny still carries the wounds on his body, and his mind will need adjusting after over fifteen years of reckless adventures. But he has gained balance, and hope, and that which he most wanted, all that better expressed in his own words:‘We have reached the open sea, with some charts; and the firmament.’That’s all a good sailor needs, after the turbulent sailing, and all the closure this little reader hoped for. A satisfying conclusion to a grandiose series that is now pretty close to my heart, and so deserving of being read and appreciated by more people.

  • Sandra
    2019-04-12 23:04

    10 starsI shall harness thee a chariotof lapis-lazuli and goldCome into our dwelling, in theperfume of the cedars.This fragment of poetry is laced through the chapters of this book, and for me, it evokes the emotions of longing and and finally, fulfillment to be found in the Lymond Chronicles.Masterfully woven, filled with tension, hope, despair, grief, violence and love; Checkmate brings the saga of Francis Crawford of Culter, Comte de Sevigny to a close. Alas, any story following this is bound to be a disappointment, with a few notable exceptions. Dunnett is without question a master of historical fiction. She challenges us with her French and literary quotations, her olde English, to join the journeys and adventures of the remarkable Lymond. I promise you, if you accept the challenge, and wade into the depths of 16th century Europe with Lymond, his brother Richard, his mother Sybilla, his fellow armsmen, his women, and finally his love - you will not be disappointed. I join the ranks of people who say, 'Oh, I love these books,' and sigh with poignant regret that they are now read.I will be rereading them, that is without doubt. From racing through to find out what happens, to stopping to savor the beauty and terror along the way, I find myself even now returning to parts of the book to reread, to recall bits lost and to re-savor the wealth.

  • Heather
    2019-04-08 00:58

    WOW! I would give this 6 stars if I could! There are no words to adequately give praise to this final book in the Lymond Chronicles.Unwillingly brought to France by well-meaning friends, Lymond reluctantly accepts a commission in the armies of King Henri II, while struggling with an array of challenges and complications in his personal life. As passions flare and personalities clash, the mysteries of Lymond’s character and origins become clear, forcing him to deal with his own tarnished past and ambiguous nature.I have to agree with the Washington Post which claimed that Dorothy Dunnett is "the finest living writer of historical fiction." She is now my favorite author and this book (and it predecessors) as my favorite novel(s) and blows all other books I've read out of the water. I feel sorry for the book that I'll be reading next because nothing will be as rich and rewarding as what I've just experienced.I'm buying the companion book so that I can reread all six books and hopefully understand all the references and languages that were so equivocal to my uneducated mind.Favorite lines:"You might, without my crediting it, fall deeply in love and forever, with some warped hunchback whelped in the gutter. I should equally stop you from taking him." P.353"Do I appear," she inquired, "crazed with lust?" His eyes flicked wide open, Lymond considered her. Then he bent his head, and she could not tell if he was smiling. "Very seldom," he said."Or artless? Or addled? Or excitable?" She was getting angrier. "Is that why you keep recoiling as if I was a line of armed calvary?"He was not smiling. He looked up slowly and met her gaze, his own level. He said, "I beg your pardon. I didn't know I was giving quite such an insufferable impression." P. 81

  • Cphe
    2019-04-14 06:09

    A wonderfully satisfying conclusion to an extremely convoluted and well plotted historical series The main character Francis Lymond was a tortured soul, an enigma but who lived by his own code of honour. An unforgettable hero more than capably matched by his young wife Philippa. In fact the whole cast of characters whether heroes or villains were so well drawn.One had to wonder after following Francis Lymond through all of his trials and political intrigue and across so many continents if he would ever find peace or the answers that he sought. In this final installment all is revealed and makes for very satisfying if exhausting reading.In summation of the final installment, the series...fabulous,....absolutely fabulous.

  • Siria
    2019-04-01 06:08

    There is, I think, a line in one of Jane Austen's pieces of juvenilia which reads something like:It was too pathetic for the feelings of Sophia and myself—we fainted alternately upon a sofa.Yeah, that about sums it up.

  • Morgan
    2019-04-02 05:01

    It's been exactly a week since I finished this book and I still don't know what to say about it besides something incoherent while flapping my hands about and sobbing. THESE BOOKS, MY GOD. So instead I'll just plot summarize a bit: This book finds Lymond back in France after the events of book five. He wants to get back to Russia but instead agrees to stay in France for a year to help their campaign against the newly united Spanish and English. Thankfully, we're reunited with almost everyone I love right away. Adam Blacklock, you are maybe the only reasonable person in these books! Danny! Archie! Jerrott! (It was oddly comforting to yell at Jerrott again. I missed your stupidity Jerrott!) Marthe! Crawfords! And obviously Phillipa, one of the coolest heroines ever. In this last book Phillipa continues delving into the mystery of Lymond's birth until the whole thing unravels and blows up in their faces. Lymond himself is basically held together with gum and duct tape in this book. It gets more than a bit depressing. As with all the books, there are a number of TERRIBLE THINGS that happen. The first section of Part Five might be the most oppressively terrible and tough to get through of all the books. Something started in the hall of revels scene in the last book continues in this book and leads to some of the best and worst scenes of the book.Overall, I was pleased with how the book (and the series) wrapped up. I cried quiet a bit, but I was expecting that. Throughout the course of these books I managed to get so attached to all of the character, who felt like real people, with moments of brilliance and glaring flaws. I'll miss the Crawfords and Phillipa and everyone. I'll miss Francis Crawford of Lymond, who has become possibly my favorite fictional character. I wish there were more books to the series but I'm looking forward to rereading the first two, as I feel my enjoyment will be much greater when I know what's happening more than 20% of the time. Everyone should read these books!

  • Nymeria
    2019-04-09 03:48

    Checkmate is a rare book, a unique book. It's the only romance novel (come on, don't deny it. You know it's at heart a romance novel!) that has thousands of pages of character development in the form of the previous 5 books in the series. So the feels when everything comes together in Checkmate...The feels...

  • Renee M
    2019-03-27 01:40

    Oh, I LOVE this series! And also hate it so much. I never ever finish one of these books without coming away completely wrung out and gasping for air... In the best possible way. So of course they must be read over and over again. Each time I find new things; or find I've forgotten things, so that events continue to strike me like a smack in the head... In the best possible way. :)

  • Brittany
    2019-04-25 00:08

    Do not listen to anyone who tells you that this book is the best of the six. It isn't. (I think we've all agreed that Pawn was.) However, to devotees of the books it will seem like the best, because it's the one with the (relatively) Happy Ending. If you read any of the reviews online they all say the same thing: Dunnett seems to have lost some of her edge. This book pulls out all the stops and employs every last romance novel cliche you can think of. But it doesn't matter. It doesn't matter because it's Dunnett, and because, if you've made it this far, you're already so in love with the characters that you're willing to sacrifice anything in order to see them happy. And that's what happens. Dunnett is at her best when she has Gabriel to throw Lymond up against. When Lymond is just struggling with Gabriel's shadow, the plot is less knife-like. But, as I've noted above, no one with an ounce of heart cares. This is a great ending, and Dunnett's gift to her loyal readers. That being said, it is still, as literature, above 92% of everything else out there.

  • Ryan Groesbeck
    2019-04-12 23:00

    This was a great finish to the series. Dunnett wields her pen like a knife, and if she waxes flowery on occasion, one can forgive her for the imagery she builds is so vivid you can't help but be sucked in. She's not afraid to use that knife to murder prominent characters, some of whom have been with us for quite some time...but always with surgical intent and driven by plot necessity. These are not killings a la George RR Martin, who especially recently has sometimes felt like he killed characters for sheer shock value rather than any need to drive the plot forward. This book welds seamlessly together Lymond's critical personal story (his relationship with Philippa and the nature of his parentage) with his professional success (the winding down of the Italian wars between France & Spain in the Low Lands). Some books have leaned too heavily on one side or the other (Ringed Castle was overly thinky, whereas Disorderly Knights was almost too action-heavy), but this one balanced it all very well -- only the first one, I think, made that balance with this degree of finesse. Checkmate is not, however, the first book, and it definitely shows. This is a more mature work than Game of Kings, with more than a decade in between the two, and this one definitely shows a degree of polish much greater than the first. Which is no denigration on the first book, which is still I think my favorite one. Just that her prose ripens with age :-). Another thing that Dunnett crafts extremely well are her characters, and I would like to call attention specifically to two sides of that -- her female characters are strong and well developed, despite being set in a time period where it would be all too easy to denigrate them to the background, and she writes about her supporting characters in a way that makes you care about their fates. In the grand scheme of things, Archie Abernethy, Jerrott Blyth, Piero Strozzi, etc., are merely Lymond's lieutenants, executors of his will, but you find yourself rooting for their survival anyway. I swore that if she killed my little Scots mahout Archie, I would hurl my book violently at the wall. Without revealing whether that took place or not, I think it says something that you can become invested in someone who is, at the end of the day, not integral to the story. But the books have always been about Lymond, and despite the magnificent way the author reintroduces old threads and characters to wrap everything up, the book rightfully maintains its focus on our mercenary captain. It has become increasingly clear that, the deadly enmity of the Lennoxes notwithstanding...Lymond has always been his own worst enemy. He continues to do battle with the dangerous health consequences of his prior opium addiction, as well as an ill-advised (by me) attempt to distance himself from his de jure wife Philippa by shutting down / bottling up *any* emotion...with sadly predictable debilitating consequences. Lymond is a flawed hero, and he is tormented by the mistakes and difficult decisions he's been forced to make through the series. One memorable passage has him pondering on all the innocents who have died at (or because of) his hands. It's clear that these losses weigh heavily on him, despite the iron nonchalance he displays to the world when they are mentioned. I started this series more than a year ago, off a recommendation from someone (I believe on a blog) counselling those going through "GRRM-withdrawal" and it quickly became one of my favorite series of all time. The jury is out on GRRM, since his series is not finished, but as stands, I would rank this one above his. Dunnett maintains an iron discipline and focus on her plot and her end-goals, which Mr. Martin especially in AFFC has seemed to wander from. She does not pander to her readers, and these are not easy reads, but they are so rewarding to those who are willing to match Dunnett's writing discipline with some hard reading discipline of their own. I highly, highly recommend this series of books to anyone who enjoys historical fiction. Obviously...don't start with this one, though. Go back to Game of Kings :-)

  • Hobbes
    2019-04-02 23:41

    Dense, intense and utterly satisfying. I was near tears toward the end of this book and it's rare a book or series gets my heart pounding and my mind frantic with anxiety. I both did and didn't want the journey to end and it's been nearly a day since I've been able to even contemplate giving a flavour of how I felt finishing this series.Lymond is a mastermind Renaissance Man in this bloodied world and readers finally get to understand the true man behind the enigma. Love the many complicated relationships Dunnett creates and although many truths are revealed some questions have ambiguous answers. It would be interesting to re-read the series with the benefit of hindsight and pay closer attention to detail to get a clearer understanding for those answers (even though I've been reading at a snail-pace and often rereading or thumbing back to previous passages to get a better grasp). So, not everything has been fully resolved in my mind but even that doesn't detract from my love for these complicated novels. Thoroughly enjoyed the race scene where Lymond and Philippa must try to evade capture running through foggy Lyon and it's reminiscent of the Blois rooftop race in Queen's Play. Well written action, warfare tactics and subterfuge, political ambitions, religious power play and above all so many facets of humanity. And, thankfully, there are some humorous passages and phrases to soften the emotional onslaught. I only worry that other historical fiction may pale into comparison to The Lymond Chronicles, for me.The love story that has been brewing for thousands of pages is finally addressed. But, the suffering, torment, trauma and sacrifice is soul destroying. Dunnett, as usual, punches her characters and reader in the gut many, many times. Such a manipulative writer. Many characters are emotionally manipulated but none more than Philippa who receives both physical and mental trauma and Lymond who has been paying the price for his identity issues throughout the whole series. I think it's safe to say that Lymond will remain one of my favourite characters of all time, warts and all.An epic series that I'll re-read after a healthy distance to discover clear answers to some questions that evade me for now, especially those concerning parental ambiguity that destroyed me at the end of Pawn in Frankincense and Checkmate. It was a difficult beginning and hard work but ultimately well worth the initial struggle. Now the only question is whether to read the Niccolo series next or read a few lighter novels first?

  • Ben
    2019-04-07 04:05

    Early in this book, Lymond is cornered in the streets of Lyon by various people intent on murdering him. With his companion Philippa Somerville he embarks on a high-speed chase through the streets and over the rooftops, involving extreme physical danger, courage, agility and a healthy measure of quick-witted verbal assaults on his attackers.It's a throwback to a similar episode in "Queens' Play", but it's also a fair metaphor for the whole Lymond series. As a reader, I spent much of my time feeling rather like Philippa - pitchforked into situations of which I had no experience; forced to keep up by finding a mental toughness and agility I didn't know I possessed.This is the epitome of great historical fiction. Dunnett doesn't stop to explain anything; she makes few concessions to a modern readership's sensibilities; but she invites us into the sparkling, complex, contradictory world of the mid-sixteenth century, and shows us exactly what made that world tick. And in the process, she shows us a lot about what we too are capable of achieving.I tend to read this book when I need to walk taller, when I need to achieve the impossible.(This is a summary review; I will write a more detailed one when I have finished my next reading.)

  • Giki
    2019-04-22 04:56

    This is the last and best book in this truly brilliant series. Some other reviewers have complained about the melodramatic nature of this episode, but in truth I think the whole series is high melodrama, (in the first chapter of the first book, for goodness sake, there was a drunk pig and Lymond sets fire to his mother). This is just building to a climax before the end. The highs are higher and the lows are lower, it is all as we should expect, and it is glorious.Quick recap: In the Previous book Lymond became estranged from his family. Now convinced his parentage is not what it ought to have been, he cannot face his mother. His brother, Richard, sensibly demanded that he cut out the usual confusion and deception and tell him exactly what was going on. He got half an answer and he didn't like it, and so smashed Lymond in the face. Lymond more than deserved it but it hasn't helped family relations.In the hall of revels, thanks to an Lish play, Francis finally realised what everyone else had known long ago, and fell deeply and unfortunately in love with his wife.Phillipa has decided that the only way to heal the family rift and make Francis whole again, is to find out all the dirty little secrets surrounding his birth, and once Phillipa has decided on a course of action it is pretty much impossible to divert her.These three strands, along with the wars waged by France against her all her neighbours and any one else who wants a go, drive the plot of this book.An early episode has Lymond being chased across the rooftops of Lyon, an echo of an adventure many years ago in Bios, only this time more deadly and in much better company. It is as if all his previous adventures have just been preparation for the events of this book. Lymond appears on top form, dealing with danger through wit, guile and humour, Philippa, his equal in every way, follows leaping across the roofs, cheerfully dispatching her opponents with skills leaned in the Sultan's Harem. Together they soar, laughing, sure of each other's talents. It is strong wine indeed for a wife in name only, the crash that follows is complete.Jerott is back too, last seen abandoned to fate with Marthe in Volos They are married now, I am not entirely sure why, a reason is given in the book but I suspect it way just as likely that Marthe just wanted to cause someone pain.You want to marry me? Fine – Do it! And then we shall see how happy you are...Not very, by all accounts, Marthe is as fierce as ever an clearly has no great love for her husband. Jerott puts a brave face on it and cries into his wine every night.Phillipa is the real star of the show, coming into her own in the French court, she has wealth and status, and a whole troop of men who would lay down their lives for her love. She still makes just about every sacrifice possible to help her reluctant husband.The ending was stunning, to say the twists were unexpected is a massive understatement, it is a roller-coaster. I was so glad – having enjoyed the series so far so much, I was glad to see it go out with a bang.Oh, I love this book, I have read the ending about 20 times in the past week and cried for about 5 of them. If that means I am a soppy sentimental lover of melodrama then so be it.

  • Misfit
    2019-04-16 04:06

    The final book in the Lymond Chronicles and a spectacular finish! Checkmate opens as Lymond and his band of mercenaries leave England behind and travel to France to serve the French King in his battles with King Phillip. As Lymond is still set upon returning to Russia King Henri offers Lymond the annulment from Philippa that he desperately wants if he serves France for one year - if he doesn't Henri will do all in his power to block the annulment forever. Philippa comes to France to serve as lady in waiting to the young Mary Queen of Scotts, and continues her investigation into who actually parented Lymond and Marthe, as Lymond starts his own separate inquiry into his parentage. The story unfolds amidst the pageantry of the French Court as it prepares for the wedding of Queen Mary to the Dauphin of France, and Philippa and Lymond struggle to deny the love they have come to feel for each other. Lymond and Philippa's adventures take them from the domicile of the deceased Dame de Doubtance, to a wild chase through the back streets of a French town (loved it!), until Philippa's quest to obtain the proof of Lymond's birth before it's sold to the evil Margaret Lennox and culminates in a disastrous encounter for Philippa that tears Philippa and Lymond apart and almost destroys any chance they have for happiness together. As with the first five 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. This was a rock-solid finish to a fabulous series, and it was wonderful to see the return of Jerrott and Marthe, along with more of Lymond's mother Sybilla and his brother Richard. I most especially enjoyed the mature and grown up Philippa who stole every scene and was a perfect foil for Lymond. My only complaints are the return of the French and Latin without translations as was found in the first book, and thumbs down to the publisher for not including a cast of characters as they did in the first four, this was a complex tale with many characters coming and going and that would have been greatly appreciated. Five Stars.

  • Laura
    2019-04-03 01:48

    I finished this book a few days ago, and although my brain has settled down a bit, my stomach still has not fully recovered. I read Pawn in Frankincense, The Ringed Castle, and Checkmate back to back, and by the time I got to Checkmate, I was reading all hours of the day and night, completely ignoring work, because I simply had to know how this amazing series would resolve. However I have to admit that reading the last 3 books of the series back to back might have been a mistake -- the roller coaster ride between anguish and ecstasy was almost more than I could handle emotionally. From PiF through to the last line of Checkmate, Dorothy Dunnett wrapped her writer's fist around my stomach, and at times the level of sacrifice and suffering asked of the characters had me quite depressed. I wound up re-reading the beautifully-written ending several times in an attempt to compensate for the events of the royal wedding and the painful period at Sevigny. I badly wanted a "Ten Years Later" epilogue, but I understand that I am not meant to know exactly what happens to these people. I will have to fill in that blank with my own imagination. My favorite line of the whole series, from RC: "He understood now that he was expected to leave. He felt like a dog whose master had just died." I didn't know it was possible to feel so happy and so desolate in the same moment.I look forward to re-reading these books, and plan on buying the Companion to the series to help with all of the quotations and poetry.

  • Mei-Lu
    2019-04-26 00:53

    Even though I loved the new places Dorothy Dunnett took me to, and appreciate the level of historical detail she included, my interest in Lymond kind of flagged when the books started to focus on the rivalry between Lymond and his nemesis, Gabriel. And sometimes Lymond got so damn self-sacrificing and pretentious I wanted to smack him in the head. BUT in this book I absolutely fell in love with Philippa Somerville and, through her, I fell in love with the series again. I may have skimmed books 3-5 but I read Checkmate avidly, cover to cover, and I totally cried at the end. Dorothy Dunnett has done something really amazing with her books and if she didn't totally succeed on all counts, well, she deserves points for at least attempting what most writers wouldn't put the time and effort into doing. Reading her books is the next best thing to riding a time machine back to the 16th century. Everything from what the characters are reading, to how they dress, to how they relate to one another socially is spot on. With Dorothy Dunnett, you know there won't be any weird period anachronisms - like characters riding in a carriage centuries before carriages were invented. It just doesn't happen. And there is something about that that makes me very very very happy.

  • Dana
    2019-04-16 01:57

    The Lymond Chronicles are the most intricately plotted novels I have read by any author, ever. Your IQ will go up 10 points if you can read them and keep straight everything that is going on!Also, Dunnett's characters are very convincing and so three-dimensional. Lymond is as enigmatic and infuriating as a hero can come. The villains aren't just cardboard bad guys, they are really human and they are even scarier because of that.I really don't remember the individual books well enough to say that this one deserves five stars and that one deserves four. My five stars are for the whole series. I fear that Dunnett will be gradually forgotten as other writers of epic fantasy (e.g., George R. R. Martin, whom I see mentioned in some of these reviews) come into vogue. Unfortunately, her books didn't get made into movies or TV series, which seems to be required for an author to be a "success" these days. But Dunnett definitely deserves to be remembered. In the Lymond Chronicles, she sets a standard of authenticity and heart-pounding excitement that will be very hard for any other writer of historical fiction to meet.

  • Lorie Ahlander Maenza
    2019-04-26 23:04

    When I finished reading "Checkmate" I had a hard time letting go of these complicated, intense and very real characters.Lymond did all that he could to get back to Russia and somehow pick up the pieces of his shattered dream and live his life there. With the interference of those who wanted to salvage what was left of his soul and humanity, they did all that was possible to keep him from Russia. France providing the brass ring, Lymond would give a year's service to the King and the Cardinal would grant his annulment from his virgin bride which would leave him free to live as he chose. Not being able to avoid the mysteries of his heritage, and his body betraying him from the poisons of his past, Lymond is on a downhill spiral that will either bring a new dawn or total destruction. Many times after I put the book down, I would continue to ponder the characters motives and reasonings. In fact, I have started a re-read because of the depth of story line and characters, I will see what I missed the first time around!

  • Sarah Heffern
    2019-03-28 00:53

    The Lymond Chronicles books are quite possibly my all-time favorite books, or at least as an adult. There are six thoroughly-researched novels in the series, and each outdoes its predecessor in weaving historic details, compelling characters, and gripping plot twists. The story follow Francis Crawford of Lymond, a minor Scottish nobleman, through adventures that take him from his native land to England, France, Malta, Greece, North Africa, Russia, and finally back home to Scotland. Along the way, he tangles with epic figures, both real and fictitious while confronting the darker side of both his own and his family's history.One warning: the first two books of the series are a bit slow in comparison to the remaining four, but it is definitely worth the time to get through them. I also recommend getting a copy of Elspeth Morrison's The Dorothy Dunnett Companion, which annotates the myriad historic and literary references that are woven throughout the books.

  • Rachel
    2019-04-09 00:02

    The final book of the Lymond Chronicles, by far DD's greatest book, and the best book I have ever read.This is Lymond and Phillipa's love story. It is also Lymond's redemption and the resolution of the question of his parentage and issues with his mother. He is a man with more burdens than a single human should be asked to carry, and his friends are all worried about his physical health and mental strength. All that, a war in France, the marriage of a spoiled Scottish princess, and Nostradamus.Phillipa is unbelievable - a woman of strength and ingenuity. A woman willing to sacrifice her pride, her heart, her self so totally that I started to feel uncomfortable. And yet I loved her for it.Lymond is... well... Lymond. Books don't come better than this one. (But don't start here. This book works because of the previous five)

  • Beth (moonivy)
    2019-04-07 23:09

    Number : 14Read 8/30/06-2/11/07, 2/16-2/20/05Checkmate finishes the amazing tale of Francis Crawfordof Lymond in breath-taking, stunning and wonderous fashion.The book is set in France and almost anything else I couldpossibly say plot-wise would be a spoiler. Instead, I'll just rave and say that in a series of books where each one rated a 10, this one was perhaps the best. Lymond is the most fascinating of characters, surrounded by other intricately drawn characters. I can't recommend this series highly enough. After spending just about a month on these complex, marvelous books, I'd like to turn right back around and start rereading immediately. I know there's vast amounts of nuance I've missed. It's sad to finish the series but at least I know I can comeback to this magnificient world.

  • Bibliophile
    2019-04-20 21:52

    Goodreads informs me that I last read Checkmate almost fifteen years ago (I could have sworn it was later than that, but who knows …) which probably explains why I had forgotten everything about it except Philippa's disastrous visit to the house on the Rue de Cerisaye and the qualified (because of all the suffering and death that went before it!) happy ending. So I was in a strange position of knowing the Big Events, but having forgotten all the smaller details that embroidered those big events, and led up to them and led away from them, neither wholly new to me nor wholly known, which might be why I was alternately engrossed and frustrated by the book.I loved so many things about it, including the amazing scene where Lymond tells Philippa that he loves her, and later, that he cannot lie about that one good thing; I also loved (in a sobbing into my kerchief way) the moment when he is dying and remembers all his dead, last of all the little boy he could not save in Istanbul.What I didn't love were Richard, once again acting like an ass to Lymond, and imputing horrible, venal motives to his brother after, time and time again, having it shoved in his face that Lymond wasn't the selfish hedonist he appeared to be (and man, what is with Richard's prurient interest in Lymond's sex life? Sometimes he sounds like a spurned lover, not a disapproving older brother.) I thought we were past that after the ending of The Disorderly Knights! (Yes, I realize Richard is sad that Sibylla is sad because Lymond won't come back to be with her - and I"ll get to Sybilla's own monumental selfishness in a minute - but I hate that Richard won't even consider how dubious his own motives are, how much he's jealous of Sybilla's ridiculous partiality for Lymond that she apparently never bothered to hide from her other children.) I almost wanted Richard to know at some point, that Lymond loved him so much that he gave up his own entirely legit claim to Midculter for Richard's sake and that of his family and his love for his mother.AND SIBYLLA!!! You know, I was cheering Philippa when she rebuked Sibylla for making Francis (and Richard and Eloise!) suffer for the sake of Sibylla's promise to a dead man. I get that Francis Crawford Senior was the great love of her life, blahblah, but SHE HAD THREE CHILDREN. (And poor Eloise doesn't even get a mention, even though it's strongly implied that she, like Francis, was suicidal because of the mystery surrounding her parentage.) There is absolutely no reason I can fathom why Sibylla didn't just frelling TELL LYMOND what she told him at the very end of the book (and I still can't forgive her letting him believe that Richard was dead at Dieppe, like, really, WTF?) And it all gets hand waved away as "oh, it was the Dame de Doubtance's fault." Um, no, I think you all have some free will here too! ALSO, Philippa and the whole quest to find out Francis's antecedents seems so wrong to me as well. He told her to leave it alone and so much misery ensued from her not listening to him; everyone keeps talking in the series about how birth doesn't matter (Marthe, Danny, Kuzum are all bastards, and we're always told that their lives are what they make of them) and then to have this whole story hinge on some crazy breeding program and Philippa's desire to find out who Francis's parents were just annoys the heck out of me, because it seemingly casts doubt on the entire idea that we're NOT fated to be who we are from our bloodlines. (I forgive Philippa more readily because I love Philippa so much… but still.)In the end, I guess I felt sorriest for Jerrott, poor steadfast, honest, blunt Jerrott, who was trapped in this web of subtle lies and subtler truths that he was never equipped to handle, loving the wrong person at the wrong time and being destroyed. Maybe he went back to Malta and served under la Vallette and withstood the great Ottoman siege and was somehow happy there. I hope so :D SO with all that said - I still really loved this book and loved the series. I can't even rate this book lower than the others because obviously if I can summon this passion towards fictional characters, something about them was completely moving and compelling to me. "Tant que je vive, mon couer ne changera…"And now I'm going to go read some nonfiction for a while, because I'm not sure I'm ready for another novel after the glorious six weeks I've spent reading these.

  • Danica
    2019-04-18 06:05

    THIS BOOK IS GOING DOWN.Lymond upon reuniting with Jerott: "Your ass got fat."Me:***I've been sitting on my thoughts about this book for a while. It keeps bugging me. Like every time I think of this series I'm like -- "ASGLKAJGLKAJGASGAJGLK BEST SERIES EVER!!!!!!!!!" but then I think of the ending and my face takes on this involuntary grimace and I feel horribly let down by it, as if by a extraordinarily precocious child prodigy who goes to college swearing to solve cancer and comes back a obese couch potato with zero ambitions and his finger permanently inserted in a chip bag. Specifically, Marthe. Can I get a WTF, ladies? When I read it, I couldn't put a finger on what exactly about Marthe's ending - besides the obvious - made my mouth shrivel like a prune, but now I think I've got it. It's that we're made to feel relief at her death. After two books of investing our sympathy in this wonderful, horrible, faceted, mad, motivated, spit-in-your-face defiant woman, Dunnett has her decide to expose the family secrets. There's a dramatic confrontation and a stabbing of the adorable Monseiur Hislop thrown in for good measure. Then she goes and rides off while vicious thoughts of vengeance condense in a miasma about her head and the reader is like "noooooo. don't let this happen. STOP HER!" And she is stopped. In the most literal way possible. And then the reader puts down the book, blows out a breath that ruffles the bangs on her forehead, picks the book back up, and blithely forgets ALL ABOUT MARTHE when she returns to reading roughly twenty pages of Philippa and Lymond sexing in their blessed matrimonial bed.As another review sniped, seeing a friend die horribly and graphically in front of you is a surefire way to make any rape victim horny again, I can tell you that. Other than that I think I would've found this book extremely affecting if I hadn't been already spoiled for about 80% of its developments. Sabina called the First Baron Culter/Sybilla connection. I knew Marthe was going to die because clodhead that I was, I tried to read fic before finishing the series. I still felt nauseous at Philippa's sacrifice and my chest got all blocked up and my breath came faster when I was reading it. What else? I think another criticism that I've read elsewhere is spot-on. This last book is pretty much structured like a romance novel. Depending on your tolerance of Lymond/Philippa, this is either a great thing or a thing to make your gorge rise. Books 3 and 4 (still my favorites) were much more adventure-oriented, in that Lymond had an external enemy whom he pursued across several continents and eventually put to the death. But once the conflict guiding the narrative turned inward (books 5 and 6) -- Lymond struggles with his pain and wants to kill himself, among other tiresome retreads -- things get so much more soppy and ungainly. Things that I liked: Lovely descriptions. And Adam and Danny. On the level of the writing, I thought Lymond's discovery of Philippa post-Bailey was very well done. Once again, Dunnett excels at letting the reader realize on her own the horror of the unstated. Powerful technique. And poor Jerott:"As he watched, she bent her head and crossing her hands, slid them along her forearms to still them. Oh God, thought Jerott. Don't let it happen. She doesn't deserve the torment. The lifetime of waiting, in return for a handful of moments of ecstasy. And standing behind him, always, the ghosts of his other, experienced women. The thoughts he did not share. The knowledge that one had his total friendship but never the key to the innermost door. . . . And there was an innermost door, which Marthe did not have, and had never had, although his hopes of that, and that alone, had been his reason for marrying her.Adam was looking at him. Stupid with too much wine and too much emotion Jerott turned his head, and so caught, without warning, the expression on Austin Grey's face."Can't remember anything else, it's all been blotted out by the wtf ending.

  • Jean Gobel
    2019-03-30 01:45

    I am completely exhausted after reading all six books of the Lymond Chronicles. I have laughed out loud, I have cried, I have been angry and upset. I have loved Francis and hated him, been sick at heart for him. And for Phillippa. You want to mend the relationships with his brother and mother - and sister. You want to offer what he does not want. In this volume, Lymond is at the height of his military career in France, and at the point of despair of salvaging his mysterious heritage and his complicated personal life. The action is swift and compelling, with descriptive details of the French countryside, her cities, dazzling court scenes, a royal wedding, military battles and excursions, treason, attempts at murder, the devotion of Lymond's comrades to their commander. You are grateful for those men - Archie, Danny, Adam, Jerott - who support Lymond through crisis after crisis. The pages are sprinkled with phrases of dialogue, classical quotations and poems in French and Latin, which were only sometimes explained by the subsequent paragraph, but detracted little from my understanding of the story. I think it might help now to read the Dunnett Companion to gain some of the author's mindset on these complicated plots, before starting again to read this series, All six books beg to be re-read.

  • Vivyenne
    2019-04-18 05:05

    This book lived up to all of the promise of the Lymond chronicles. This book, I think, managed to combine compelling plots, suspense and tension with considerable growth of already very complex characters, beautiful prose and a hopeful ending. The finer and deeper points are brought out of many of the characters - Lymond and Philippa, but also Marthe, Jerott, Sybilla and even poor Austin - without falling into the easy trap of assigning each to "good" or "evil". This is the book of the series that may most benefit from re-reading and discussion. What did Marthe really want? What do our supposed origins really mean in terms of who we are? How will Lymond shape his world in his newest incarnation - a weakness or a strength?

  • Patricia Burroughs
    2019-04-10 00:08

    Five stars.Five stars.Five stars.I sat on this book for a couple of years and Sherwood Smith was agog, since she finished book 5 and grabbed book six in the next breath because she had to know what happened next, how it all would end.That's the part that stopped me.It was going to end. And I needed time to savor, to think, to... recover? Before diving back in. That is not typical for me, but it's what I did. And then because details of series like this one flit out of my mind, I couldn't remember enough details to want to start reading, but didn't have time to just sit down and read all the books again. So instead, once they were all [except the first one, wtf is up with that?] available on audible, I listened to them instead. Binge-listened. And yes, I had forgotten so much, but this brought it all back, and by the time I started Checkmate, I had to listen instead of reading. Which is fine, really, because it means I'll read it later. And will have forgotten so much that it will be a delicious new experience.What can I say about this series? Ultimately, it's a soap opera set against an epic backdrop, where personal tragedies shape the politics and boundaries of mid-16th Century world, from Scotland to France to Constantinople to Russia to... yeah. That epic.And you will never convince me that this wasn't her Francis Lymond. She even said once that he would be a good one:

  • Ann Kuhns
    2019-04-19 03:00

    My favorite in the series, despite the fact that Lymond's relationship with Philippa seems to me almost absurd -- like the author just wanted to torture her protagonists a little more. Nevertheless, I enjoyed the aspect of the book that draws on the analogy to The Book of Abraham (referenced in Part 1 -- what does it mean to have a wife, to deny your wife -- like Abraham, Lymond only really comes to accept his wife once he is past lusting for her), the parallel to the journey of Odysseus (an obvious one), and the story of Jason and the Argonauts (comically re enacted at the Hotel de Ville). And that's only the parts I could glean. Much of the references to Renaissance poetry were lost on me (Sybilla cries after hearing the Wyatt verses because why?) and my lack of French was an impediment throughout the series, one that Google Translate could only partly address (turns out that you can't get idiomatic 16th century translations off the internet). These books did spur in me a desire to research 16th century court attire -- mostly because I had to keep looking up terms like "caul" and "pourpoint." Hopefully I'm not going to become one of those RenFaire people (not that there's anything wrong with that). But the books did get in my head like that. They were good enough that I kind of thought I was living in them for a while. About six months to be exact.

  • The Idle Woman
    2019-04-02 02:49

    A superb conclusion to the Lymond Chronicles, which brings together all the main characters and plot threads into one brilliant, emotionally-charged story. In the last of the six books, Dunnett allows us to see the true scale of Lymond's doubts and weaknesses, and to appreciate the price that he has paid for his irreverent, dazzling romp through 1550s Europe. As always it is beautifully written, often shot through with a glittering thread of humour, with some deliciously funny scenes lightening the darker, more bitter theme of the overall book. Complex, rich and deeply satisfying, it also has one of the most moving conclusions that I've read for a long time.I really don't want to say too much here, because if you haven't read the books then really the best thing is to find "The Game of Kings" and throw yourself in, knowing nothing, as I did. If you have read them, then please follow this link to see my thoughts immediately after I finished the book:, if you love these books too, please contact me. I get the feeling they're the kind of stories that can be enjoyed even more through discussion and analysis with other people...

  • Stuart
    2019-04-03 05:01

    In the final book of The Lymond Chronicles Ms. Dunnett takes her gloves off and shows her mastery of plot and tension to tremendous and troubling effect.Having painted herself into a corner in Pawn in Frankincense, she could've easily written an entire adventure-in-fan-service that would have served as a happy if unfulfilling end to the Chronicles.Instead she feints and twists, parrying with characters and situations the reader's singular hope. The plot is quick and tense and the characters show their true colors in weird and wonderful ways.Without going into spoilers, Ms. Dunnett deals with a certain plot element with the depth and compassion it truly deserves, and puts to shame every hacky author who has ever relied on that specific thing as an emotional/empathetic crutch. For that psychological journey alone Checkmate is worth five stars. The rest just underlines her absolute command of language and narrative.More tense than the rest of the series combined with moments of golden happiness interspersed to keep the reader afloat, the ending is tremendous and open and ultimately satisfying, at least in part because it closes such an emotionally difficult read. A fitting, stunning end to a stunning series of novels.Long live Lymond of Crawford and Sevigny.