Newsletter – 9th Jan 99

New Year Greetings from Edinburgh!

Niccolo 8

There hadn’t been much recent news until this week so this newsletter is a rather rush job.
It’s main purpose is to confirm what many of you will already have guessed – that Niccolo 8 will be a little later than originally planned. As most of you will know it would normally have been Nov 1999 – all the recent Niccolos have been November in the odd numbered years – but given the tragic events of Sept it was always likely that it would be delayed. At the moment the best guess is that it will be published around the end of March 2000, but this date is by no means cast in stone. There is no word yet of the title – Michael Joseph don’t know it yet so it looks as if Dorothy is teasing us a little longer.

Orders for it – not yet.

Can I stress again that I will announce when we can take orders for it, but that we can’t take them at the moment as Michael Joseph can’t. Any attempt to hold such orders outwith the computer systems that are intended for the purpose would be fraught with potential for mistakes, while if we put them on the system it would be almost inevitable that an order would be sent to Michael Joseph prematurely and that would disappear into a black hole. So please wait until the title is decided and the systems are ready for it.

New commemorative editions of Niccolo planned

There will be another new UK edition of all the Niccolos to commemorate the finishing of the series. They will be in the “B” paperback format and will have more elaborate covers than the current small format Penguin editions. They are likely to come out in two lots – the first 4 in Jan 2000 and the next 3 in March 2000. I’ll give you further details when they become available.

The new Penguin Lymonds

The new Penguin editions of Lymond will be out very shortly – Ringed Castle should be this month and the others should follow in Feb and March. I’m told they have been reset (presumably rather than just reduced from the other editions) so they should be easy on the eye for reading, and they are priced at UKP 7.99 Details for most of them (apart from Pawn in Frankincense which will probably be last out) are on the web site with hotlinks for anyone who wants to order them.
The Michael Joseph trade editions are gradually disappearing as the Penguins come in. We still have copies of some of them – particularly Checkmate which is otherwise now out of print – but supplies will dry up over the next few weeks.

King Hereafter

As hoped we have been able to obtain copies of the US Vintage edition of King Hereafter, so if any of you that are outside the US would like a copy please get in touch. At the current exchange rate we’re selling it at UKP 9.65

Confessions of a Dunnett Reader

I’m half way through Race of Scorpions at the moment but there is never enough time for reading. Spring of the Ram was a fascinating look at the dying embers of the Byzantine world, and has also got me much more interested in the politics and history of the Mediterranean area.
So often the history books fail to give a real perspective on trade and war in these times and you are left trying to see it through modern eyes and ideas. So much depended on a single ship getting through with its cargo or a single engagement by relatively small armies. And how often have we looked at a flat military plan with it’s arrows pointing in all directions but failed to grasp the true significance of the lie of the land, the supply routes, the weather, the politics and internal jostling. Dorothy somehow brings this all to life in a way that seems beyond the dry textbooks (and all other authors).

It has been fascinating to watch Nicholas grow, and the changing opinions of his friends as he does so. At the moment it is easier to identify with him in the hero role – though perhaps not to the extent that you can with Lymond – but his mistakes are either forgiveable in one of his age and experience or are a natural consequence of the conflicts he is set within. (Of course I’m aware that this identification will probably not be so easy in the later books when his motives and morality will be more called into question)

I find myself becoming a little exasperated with Tobie’s attitude at the moment – he seems to have impossibly high ideals and is all too ready to criticise when Nicholas fails to meet them. Yes, there is the same unwillingness to explain himself that Lymond suffers from, but I find myself thinking that someone of Tobie’s intelligence should be seeing and understanding more than he does.

It’s probably a bit soon yet to give an opinion on most of the bigger questions that have so far turned up – but maybe on some of them.
Did he love Marion? Yes I’m pretty sure he did. Maybe the nature of it changed a bit but he seems very genuine in it.
Did he deliberately sink the cannon? Hmm, I’m doubtful about that unless he was even more precocious than he seems and there was a very deep motive involving others plotting in Scotland.
Did he engineer Felix death? No, I can’t see any evidence of that.

There are of course lots of questions, but I need to read more and then examine my instinctive reaction before posing them.

Quick General Summary for new subscribers

This last bit can be skipped by all the old hands. There are however lots of new people coming on board all the time, or people reading this via one of the discussion groups without having seen the web page, who may not know the things the rest take for granted.
I produce this newsletter as part of my work for James Thin Ltd, the 150 year old Edinburgh bookseller. We have long had a close relationship with Dorothy as one of our principle local authors, and for a long time have had many overseas Dunnett customers who order the books from us. The new UK titles are normally published about 7-8 months earlier than the US editions and of course everyone always wanted the books as soon as they could get them. For a long time we had run a conventional mailing list for notification to all these people (indeed we still do for those that are not on email) and Dorothy signs all the books before we send them out.

I set up our first email connection just over 4 years ago and by chance I was asked by Douglas Brown of our Mail Order Dept, who ran the mailing list, to reply to a Dunnett customer who had mentioned her email address in a letter, and from there I suddenly started to get email from other net connected fans. The numbers grew quickly and the first announcement of To Lie With Lions was made by email as well as letter, and when I set up the web site a few months later a Dunnett page was an obvious item for inclusion. It quickly became our most popular page and has remained so despite many advances in the site. If you haven’t seen the page then go to
for the full framed version and follow the button links for “Scottish” and “Scottish Authors”, (or “Fiction” and “Historical Fiction”) or go directly to
for the Dunnett page without the navigation frame.

Most of the routine questions that are often asked are answered on this page and over the years I’ve added a number of other items such as “Questions to Dorothy” and “Dunnett Places to Visit”. You can even see a horoscope for Francis Crawford!
The book availablility lists are always kept as current as possible and there are hotlinks from the book ISBNs into our BookSearch enquiry/ordering system so it’s easy to order them. This system is fully secure for credit card transactions, so you need have no worries about ordering from overseas.

You should be aware that if you want books quickly and are on a different continent from us, then airmail, while expensive, is the best choice. Surface mail to the US and Canada takes between 5 and 8 weeks, and to Australia and the Far East can take 3 months or more. Even airmail isn’t always as fast as you would think – I’ve known cases of books being held up in US Customs and taking 18 days to reach their destination – but is usually only a few days. The vast majority of the orders for new titles as they first appear specify airmail – and those that initially say surface mail often change their minds 😉

From a figure of roughly 120 or so advance orders for Unicorn Hunt we moved to over 200 for TLWL with many more email orders quickly following. Caprice and Rondo was over 400 advance orders and the figure was nearer 600 within a couple of months of it being published, so you can imagine it has become a logistical nightmare to try to get them out as quickly as possible. Hopefully this may be a little easier with Niccolo 8 since it now won’t be in the very busy November period when we are also dealing with a lot of academic orders, and when the postal system is already starting to suffer from the Xmas rush. Of course how quickly Dorothy can sign 600 or so copies is another matter!

In case it’s not obvious I long since stopped regarding this as “real work” and it became a labour of love. Having met Dorothy a number of times and been captivated by her charm, intelligence and sense of humour, I started reading the books properly myself and am now as much a fan as the rest of you. Sometimes it’s hard to know where work stops and discussion begins, but usually if I post from my address then I’m talking business, while if I’m using my personal account on cableinet which I use to participate in the discussion groups then I’m talking as a fan. Though sometimes it can get a bit blurry! 😉

You’re always welcome to contact me if you have any questions that I can help with.

Best wishes to old and new readers alike


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