Newsletter – 16th March ’98

Greetings from an Edinburgh which is enjoying a very early spring – trees and flowers are weeks ahead of normal and we’ve had some lovely bright days.

This is a short newsletter to keep you up to date with the latest answers that I’ve just added to the Questions for Dorothy section of the web page. I’d hoped to include my reactions to Checkmate but I’ve been so busy recently that I’m only just over half way through. With so many secrets about to be revealed I’d better wait till I’ve finished and then cover Ringed Castle – which I loved – and Checkmate together.

I spoke briefly to Dorothy by phone the other day, although I’ve been trying to avoid disturbing her, and she is completely submerged in Niccolo 8 and expects to be for the rest of the year. She did say how pleased she was at the positive reaction to the first set of “Answers” and has promised to find time for the next batch which I’ll send her shortly.

Did DD downplay the divining in C&R?

Q. I feel that Nicholas’s divining skills appear suddenly & with no warning — and also that they tend to act as a kind of “deus ex machina” at times. That is, they make Nicholas too invincible and serve to rescue him from situations he couldn’t otherwise escape. In C&R his divining is downplayed — with great effect, I think. Did you also feel that this divining skill – or ability, if you will – was interfering with the development of N’s character and story? Did you make a conscious effort to downplay it?

“The divining isn’t a chance element in the story, nor is it a plot tool , or it would have rescued its possessor from a few more dire situations than it did. Its entry is not so arbitrary, either, as you might think. Its first appearance is closely identified with one those flashes of perception we have already seen, linking Nicholas to the future. Its other importance – apart from its actual industrial history – lies in what its handling tells you progressively about Nicholas. And initially, of course, it demonstrates how he is capable of using the power selflessly, sometimes, to save and protect.”

What was the Relationship between Lymond and Wenceslas in Ringed Castle?

Q. My question is about the relationship between Lymond and Venceslas in “The Ringed Castle.” What’s going on? It isn’t just a homosexual relationship is it, because at the time, Lymond is sleeping with Guzel. And also, in previous books, Lymond’s homosexual relationships always seem to be a form of manipulation rather than simple pleasure.

Extra comment from Bill Marshall. I mentioned to the person that asked this question that I’d found the scenes with the Aga Morat difficult to interpret, and that seemed to me a more important case, so I put both parts in to Dorothy. I was particularly intrigued to know what was behind the scene where Jerott is called see to the Aga Morat and finds him and Lymond arguing, and Lymond sends him away. Is this a simple case of Lymond protecting Jerott from the Aga’s advances or is there more going on? I’m assuming that Lymond had agreed to advances to himself to protect the others after the ambush.

“Read it all through again and see if you can fathom what Guzel is doing. Of course Lymond isn’t interested in Venceslas (or anybody). As with Jerott and the Aga, all you have to do is remember that, like Nicholas, Lymond sometimes protects people, and understands that he must pay for it.”

Lymond and Eloise

A common question concerns the relationship between Lymond and Eloise, and whether, as Richard seems to think sometimes, there was any incestuous element or not? Elaine Thompson kindly supplied me with Dorothy’s answer from an event in 1982 which also matches well with what she said at her 97 California signing:

“From what I remember about Eloise, the point was that, by being responsible, in a way, for the presence of the gunpowder at the convent, Lymond unwittingly gave his sister a means of finding death, or at least of not avoiding it. The relationship, misunderstood by others, was made tortuous by the fact that Eloise had discovered half the truth about Lymond’s birth and, knowing his feeling for Sybilla, didn’t know what to do about it, while of course suffering in the knowledge herself. As time went on, and his suspicions grew, she grew more and more afraid of what might happen, and of being the accidental cause of a revelation.”

To which she has now added this further response:

“The Lymond-Eloise answer is exactly right. I hoped it was obvious that Eloise was wholly untouched, and her death a tragic accident, for which Lymond blamed himself.”

Just the three this time then; but I think you’ll agree they’re quite important ones for a clear understanding of what’s going on. Keep the questions coming!!

Just a quick reminder that the trade paperback of Caprice and Rondo is still on schedule for the 28th May, and the UK edition of Checkmate is still on for April. If anyone hasn’t yet bought the hardback of Caprice and Rondo I would advise ordering it very soon.
The 5th reprint was cancelled by Michael Joseph as the orders coming in from bookshops had tailed off and the paperback was so close. That means that the only copies left are those in the pipeline at the wholesalers or already on the shelves. Once those are gone the hardback will be out of print.

best wishes to you all


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