I read this book along with the Historical Fav. yahoo group. If it hadn’t been a group read I don’t think I would have picked it up, and I know I wouldn’t have finished it. It is a long book, with a lot happening, and I am glad I stuck with it.
Set in Scotland and England in the 1500’s this is the first book in a series of six. The main character is the outlaw Francis Crawford of Lymond, but from the outset there are hints that he isn’t quite as evil as the world makes him out to be.
Seen as a traitor to Scotland, responsible for the murder of his sister, and now acting as a robber and thief, Lymond’s return to Scotland sets in motion a whole series of events. With the reader uncertain as to where things might end up.
The title gives a hint as to the nature of the characters in the book, for the most part they scheme and plot, sometimes in their own interest, sometimes for a common purpose. Strategy and tactics mean that not until the end of the book are we certain who is telling the truth, and who is good.
Not that there are any stereotypical goodies and baddies here. All the characters have their motivation, all act not according to good and evil, but because of personal, realistic reasons.
Patriotism is a fine hothouse for maggots. It breeds intolerance; it forces a spindle-legged, spurious riot of colour … It’s an opulent word, a mighty key to a royal Cloud-Cuckoo-Land.