Newsletter – 8th May ’98

Greetings from Edinburgh where we’re having our second Spring 😉 (Had a two week reprise of winter during April – guess which week I chose for my holiday!)

Just a few notes to bring you all up to date with additions to the web pages.

Dunnett Places to Visit

A few days ago I uploaded a new feature called “Dunnett Places to Visit” which is accessed by a link from the main Dunnett page. I’ve been getting increasing numbers of requests about which places related to the books people could go and see while visiting Scotland, so I’ve put together a few ideas that will hopefully provide enough detail for making outline plans. There is a rough map of central and southern Scotland with the main places of Dunnett interest marked, and some sketch graphics taken from our Mercat Press series on Castelleted Architecture to give an idea of some of the many castles that appear in the stories. I’ll add more details as the time to research them comes along, and if anyone has any suggestions for additions I’d be happy to hear from you.

Lymond Chart

Another new item is accessed from the “Questions for Dorothy” page. Dorothy passed me a copy of a horoscope for Lymond which she had had drawn up by a professional astrologer a few years ago. I’ve translated that into a web graphic and added the astrologer’s interpretation. Hope the astrologers amongst you find it interesting. Hopefully I’ve got it correct – it was hand written and not very easy to decipher but I think most of it is now right.

News of the books

The Michael Joseph edition of Checkmate has finally been released. Unfortunately the edition of Ringed Castle which only came out 6 months ago has now been declared unavailable. It looks pretty certain that they aren’t going to reprint it but they may be producing a small format Penguin edition instead. If that is the case then I would imagine they will do that to the whole Lymond Chronicles series, but details are in short supply at the moment and it’s taken over a week to get this much.
Since the last newsletter we’ve had our 150th anniversary celebrations, and Dorothy was amongst the many authors whom we invited to visit us on the big day. I suspect that is about the only engagement she has taken part in recently as she plunges ever deeper into Niccolo 8. Last I saw she and Alastair were happily chatting away to Nigel Tranter (who was looking very sprightly considering he’s now 89) and Ian Rankin (who had come along despite having made a sleepless seven hour train journey overnight to join us).

My own readings

For those of you who have been following my own readings of Lymond, I can now tell you that I’ve finished Checkmate!! Having been very short of spare time for a while I saved the last section for my birthday which happily fell on a Sunday and spent a few happy hours totally immersed in the story. The verdict…..absolutely fabulous, loved it from start to finish. Only trouble is, how on earth do you read anything else after it (apart from Niccolo of course).

Looking back to Ringed Castle (which now seems ages ago 😉 ) I know some of you have some slight reservations about it – not liking the Lymond we see in Russia. I didn’t feel that at all; to me his state was quite natural considering what he had gone through in PF, and I was fascinated to see how he gradually recovered his ability to feel emotions again – playing music for the first time with technical skill but no emotion was a telling link for me, and of course having to play chess with the Tsar must have been agony at first. I could also see why he wanted to return there so much – the freedom that Chancellor noticed in the wonderfully described travels over the frozen rivers, combined with the freedom from the political and emotional baggage which had built up at home. Cold distant and hard he may have been but it was a very necessary stage in his recovery.

Seeing Philippa’s further development at the English court was a wonderful bonus for those of us completely smitten by her, and the introduction of John Dee was the sort of thing (like the later Nostradamus) that only Dorothy could have pulled off successfully. The shipwreck was agonising of course – Chancellor was perhaps the closest thing to a real friend Francis had made for a very long time. The negotiations and machinations in London were wonderfully insightful. And of course the House of Revels and afterwards were a delight. Once again the ending was a totally unexpected twist – how does she manage that? 😉

What can I say about Checkmate? There is so much in it; I kept looking to see how many pages were left because I was sure that it couldn’t possibly be all resolved in such a short number. So many wonderful scenes: F and P escaping through the back streets, the Heroes Banquet that goes hilariously wrong, that achingly beautiful moment when P realizes that he loves her and not Kate, but still wants them to part, the library, Danny taking Sybilla to see Marthe, Adam watching F & P from his window at Sevigny. All of it leading to that incredible ending and the sheer joy of the love scene. The image that will stay with me is of F & P going to see Sybilla afterwards dressed almost like children – after all they’ve been through it’s a delightfully innocent vision. I was simply stunned by the time I’d finished, in the way that people must have felt when Beethoven premiered the 5th symphony.

Well, I must admit there were occasions before starting to read the books when I wondered why on earth you were all *so* devoted to them. Now I know – there really is no other reaction possible is there.

I’m off on holiday in a few days time so if I don’t reply to your messages straight way that’s why. When I get back I’ll also be heavily involved in the final stages of preparation for our new search engine for the web pages. We’ll have Books in Print on line as well as our own stock and there’ll be a major relaunch of the site. I’ll let you know when it’s going live and you can maybe tell me what you think of it.

All good wishes.


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