Checkmate

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Overview

For the first time Dunnett's Lymond Chronicles are available in the United States in quality paperback editions.

Sixth in the legendary Lymond Chronicles, Checkmate takes place in 1557, where Francis Crawford of Lymond is once again in France, leading an army against England. But even as the Scots adventurer succeeds brilliantly on the battlefield, his haunted past becomes a subject of intense interest to ...
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Checkmate: Sixth in the Legendary Lymond Chronicles

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Overview

For the first time Dunnett's Lymond Chronicles are available in the United States in quality paperback editions.

Sixth in the legendary Lymond Chronicles, Checkmate takes place in 1557, where Francis Crawford of Lymond is once again in France, leading an army against England. But even as the Scots adventurer succeeds brilliantly on the battlefield, his haunted past becomes a subject of intense interest to forces on both sides.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780099522300
  • Publisher: Random House Adult Trade Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 8/30/1992

Reading Group Guide

About the Book:The questions, discussion topics, book descriptions, and author biography are designed to enhance your group's reading and discussion of Dorothy Dunnett's six bestselling novels in the Lymond Chronicles. We hope they will enrich your experience of these imaginative and adventuresome works of historical fiction.


First set in sixteenth-century Scotland following a disastrous war with England, the Lymond novels have as their hero Francis Crawford of Lymond, a nobleman and soldier of fortune possessed of a scholar's erudition, an elastic sense of morals, and the tongue of a poet. The six novels take this compellingly charismatic figure on a perilous and colorful tour through the glittering courts and power centers of sixteenth-century Europe.


To these novels, Dorothy Dunnett brings an effortless narrative mastery, in-depth human portraiture, and an uncanny ability to reanimate the past. The Lymond novels are works of marvelous intelligence and pure enchantment, adventures for both the heart and mind.Discussion Questions:For discussion of Checkmate

Question: Checkmate opens with a cockfight that has a decidedly symbolic feel to it. What are some of the symbolic possibilities in the conflict between the red and the gold birds? Does it in some respects mirror the developing antagonism between Francis Crawford and Austin Gray and the climax of that antagonism?

Question: Marthe explains to Sybilla Crawford that the reason her marriage to Jerott Blyth has failed is that each partner "has married the other as a substitute for somebody else." What does she mean? What does Marthe want from Sybilla Crawford? What does she want from Francis Crawford?

Question: First seen as a shouting five-year-old in The Game of Kings and then as a defiant and imperilled seven-year-old in Queen's Play, Mary Queen of Scots is a complex teenager in Checkmate. How does the novel assess her character? What does her character portend for the future of Scotland?

Question: After a long and difficult romance the hero and heroine of the Lymond Chronicles finally return to one another and to Scotland at the end of this novel. What has been blocking these returns, and what unblocks them? What losses balance this gain?

For discussion of the Lymond Chronicles

Question: The hero of a long series of historical novels, like the hero of a crime or detective series, lives properly in a milieu of struggle and physical violence and is likely to be the object of this violence over and over. Yet, of course, he must survive it if the series is to continue: "Popular resurrections are a tedious pastime of Francis'," says Lady Lennox in Queens' Play, trying to recover from yet another reappearance by the handsome nemesis she had thought was dead. What are the most interesting or important examples of the deaths and resurrections of Francis Crawford in the series? How and for what purpose do such scenes play with the feelings of the reader?

Question: In its various travels and stories, the Lymond Chronicles encompass several religious systems—Roman Catholic, Protestant, and Russian Orthodox Christianity, as well as several forms of the Islamism of the Ottoman Empire. What is the series' attitude toward religion, religious institutions, and authentic spirituality? What do figures like the Dame de Doubtance, John Dee, and Michel de Nostradamus—astrologers and scientists, mystics and psychologists—represent in this respect?

Question: Over the length of the Lymond Chronicles the protagonist must withstand the attacks of three powerful antagonists—Margaret Lennox, Graham Malett, and Leonard Bailey. How do these figures of evil differ in their reasons for wanting to possess or destroy Francis Crawford? Does the manner of their deaths or downfalls seem particularly appropriate to their characters?

Question: As the secrets of the Crawford family structure surface one by one, through the very last few pages of the last novel, the questions raised in the first novel about Francis Crawford's relationship with his father, his brother, and his sister acquire disconcerting new dimensions. What new father, brother, sister does he need to integrate into his understanding of his family? One thing never changes, however—the centrality of his relationship to his mother for his psyche, his sexuality, even his politics. What by the end do we think of Sybilla Semple Crawford?

Question: The essence of a good historical novel is its capacity to create colorful scenes for pure entertainment value, while also offering shrewd characterization, complex plot evolution, and acute political and social insight. Is the comedy of a scene like the feast and fight at the Ostrich Inn in Part II of The Game of Kings, for instance, a good balance for the pure thrill of the swordfight and chase into Hexham in Part IV? How do these scenes illuminate character, plot, and relationships?

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
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Sort by: Showing all of 14 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 16, 2002

    Serious readers should read Dorothy Dunnet (male and female)

    I love Dorothy Dunnet books, she is not an easy read, but well worth the effort it takes to finish her novels. I highly recommend both the Lymond series and Niccolo serie

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    Posted January 27, 2011

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