Newsletter – 21st October ’97

Greetings from a congested Edinburgh – about to be surrounded by politicians for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Conference, for which they’ve closed most of the city centre roads for security purposes!!

The Dunnett Tour of the US

I know that many of you have managed to see Dorothy in the first half of her author tour for the Vintage editions of Lymond. The reports I’m getting have been of packed bookshops, enthralled audiences and very happy booksellers and publishers! I spoke to Dorothy yesterday and she was overwhelmed at the reception she’s had and despite knowing already how keen you all are she was astonished at the enthusiasm and warmth shown. Someone apparently drove 800 miles to see her!! She was very touched by it all and sends her thanks.

Dunnett Companion

Firstly the situation with the Companion is that from the batch that I got hold of from the remainder merchants in England we were able to supply all of the people who had outstanding orders at the time of the last newsletter and a few of the new orders that were sent after it, but a number of people are still on the waiting list. I’m sorry I haven’t been able to answer all the requests individually as yet – there were just too many to get round and I didn’t know exactly how many copies I would have available until very recently because a couple of people who had requested multiple copies had changed email addresses. It turned out that they had managed to get copies from Duthies in Canada so fortunately I was able to supply more new orders than I originally expected.
Duthies have now told me that they cannot obtain any more so the only possibility is if I manage to get any more from the remainder people over here. If I have any luck then I’ll be in touch with those on the waiting list straight away. If you haven’t heard from me yet then I’m afraid you were unsuccessful for the moment, but I’ll try and message you all individually as soon as I can.

Quite a number of messages were sent to me at incorrect addresses and had to be salvaged in the error-trapping account that I have. This meant I had to jump between accounts cross-comparing message dates to make sure that orders were serviced in the correct order so I’m afraid that took rather longer than expected too. It looks as if the wrong address somehow got passed round as a lot of them were the same, so can you all please check that your address books have the correct one:
and at the same time that your entries for our order and enquiries (which Craig handles) are set to either
and not to the old address.

Caprice and Rondo

Now on to what you are all waiting for!!
I’ve been in touch with Michael Joseph and have persuaded them to give us advance delivery of C&R so that we can get the processing under way and get them signed by Dorothy as soon as possible. We have over 360 orders already – the vast majority of them to go airmail – which is almost twice as many as we had of To Lie with Lions, so you can imagine what a mammoth task it is going to be to get these out to you. Of course Dorothy is due to fly back to the US on the second part of her author tour on Saturday so how much signing can be done before that depends on when the books arrive. Keep your fingers crossed 😉
Official publication date is still the 6th November (although the first author event – in Nottingham of all places – is actually on the 5th) so technically we shouldn’t send out the UK copies until then anyway. However if you don’t tell then neither will we 😉 (and remembering how slow the post office were the last time it probably won’t make any difference anyway :-/ )

A small appeal
I know that you are all desperate to get the books and/or to double check your orders etc. but please try to be patient and let us get on with processing them. If everyone emails me now there is not an earthly chance of me answering you all individually, and trying to check which items have gone as we do them will only slow things down. Unless you have a really concrete problem or need to place a new order please don’t email me for the moment. I’ll keep everyone up to date with bulletins on how things are going. Should any copies go astray in the post or get damaged in transit we will of course send replacements, but the best way to keep track of things and know where we are, is to take care at the despatch stage rather than trying to rush it.
Thanks, we’ll do our very best to get them to you quickly and efficiently.

As yet there is no sign of the UK paperback edition of Ringed Castle which is also due this month. We have however been informed that publication of Checkmate has been delayed and won’t now appear until around April next year. So far I haven’t had an explanation of this. Anyone who has ordered it from us can certainly cancel their order if this is too late for them. We seem to be able to get the Vintage editions quite readily via a specialist US importer so anyone based outside of the americas can always get these from us if they wish.
UK author events so far arranged are as follows:

Wednesday 5th November
2pm ‘Off The Page’, Nottingham Central Library, Angel Row,
Contact: Lyn Turner Tel: 0115 985 4242

7pm Event at Waterstone’s Leeds
Tel: 0113 2444588

Tuesday 11th November
6.30pm Evening event at John Smith, Glasgow
Tel: 0141 221 7472

Wednesday 12th November

7pm Event at James Thin, South Bridge, Edinburgh
Tel: 0131 556 6743

Wednesday 3rd December
Evening event for Cawdor Book Services
At: Dunfermline Central Library, 1 Abbott Street,
Dunfermline, Fife
Tel: 0141 766 1000
Finally, I promised some of you I would give you my own reactions to reading the first two Lymonds.
Anyone else who isn’t interested can stop here!!
Haven’t had time to really sit down and think about this properly but here goes. First of all I enjoyed them immensly and as some of you predicted I was soon sucked in to forgetting about minor things like eating and sleeping 😉 I think my wife Fiona was pretty astonished because I don’t read much fiction since I find most of it pretty shallow, and I’ve never really enjoyed historical fiction from most other authors since I was a teenager.

I’ve heard one or two people on the usenet historical fiction group say that they found Game of Kings hard going at first or sometimes harder than some of the later books, and I can understand why although I was ok with it myself once I got used to the fact that I was really going to have to think as I read. Certainly my Scottish historical and geographical background was a great help although I did occasionally curse our habit of having lots of people with similar names! (Far too many Margarets for a start!!) Once the ground had been laid Francis emerged as a fascinating figure and very attractive to both sexes. My only slight quibble was how anyone could possibly be that well educated and experienced in so many things at such an early stage in his life, but that was soon forgotten. Sybilla is likewise a wonderful character but initially Richard seemed dull and predictable. Only later did he start to grow on me and I realised that while I might like to think of myself in Francis’ place I’m really much more like Richard in reality. The transformation of his attitude after the sworfight and shooting was startling.

The amnesia episode still leaves me wondering a little bit, and I’m told that many new readers go off the rails there. Christian Stewart was a lovely character and I was sad indeed when I realised that she would be unlikely to survive. But then it looks as if her death is quite an influence on Francis’ developement so perhaps it was inevitable.
It was hardly surprising given Dorothy’s reputation for historical accuracy that the episode of the young Queen Mary’s short visit to the priory at Menteith was confirmed in a radio program that I heard shortly after reading it.
The first meeting with the young Philippa was a harrowing way to start a long term relationship and laid so many possibilities for the future. I must confess the ending was something of a surprise in the dramatic slowing of the tempo during the courtroom scenes but tension was palpable and the card playing twist from the games Will Scott had played with Jonathan Crouch was masterly.

Queens’ Play had quite a different feel to it, though perhaps that is inevitable given the setting. The pace seemed faster despite the descriptions being necessarily more lavish. The rooftop race scene was positively breathless of course.
I’d be fascinated to know how many people spotted the twist of the Keeper of the Royal Menagerie. Being Scottish the name Abernaci rang alarm bells immediately – well, almost immediately, the knife throwing/ink bottle scene was doubtless there to distract us 😉 Of course it coming not long after the initial puzzle of which of the Irish party was actually Lymond was sneaky too!
I laughed out loud helplessly when the Frenchman mentioned “Ue” the elephant, and got a few funny looks from the people sitting quietly drinking outside the hotel in Slovenia where I was reading it 🙂

Robin Stewart being the would-be assasin was rather more of a surprise though perhaps I should have been expecting it by then – the hunting cheetah scene had put me off the scent I think. Thady Boy Ballagh was a wonderful invention with which to entwine the hero, with all the contradictions of debauched excess and chivalrous brinkmanship inescapeably intertwined.
The ending was again unexpected, but in some ways perhaps even more subtle than its predecessor in the disgrace of d’Aubigny and the interplay with Mary of Guise. A satisfying conclusion. It’s a good place to pause and draw breath before continuing with Disorderly Knights. Looking back, so much has faded from concrete memory that I can well understand those who read them again and again – I have a feeling that a few connections are likely to appear shortly!

In summary, everything I had hoped for and expected in the way of stimulating and thought-provoking reading. Believe me, I am not one who would praise it if I thought otherwise (even though it has been suggested that I was being put in an unfair position and I could hardly have admitted to not liking them). Just like Richard probably 😉

I’d love to have comments if your interested, but let’s keep them separate from business because I’ll never get through them in work hours the way things are at the moment. Maybe use my own email address at

Very best wishes to everyone. I’ll be in touch with any further news of C&R

Bill Marshall

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