Thursday, September 17, 2015

Less Valued Checkmate

Only two to report of this time.

Book #23 is Checkmate by Dorothy Dunnett. This is the 6th and final book in the Lymond Chronicles, and I am a little sad to see them go. This definitely wasn't my favourite of the books, the series hit its high points for me with books 3 & 4, but there was still much to enjoy in this. As usual, Dunnett gets in her wonderful, action set pieces. She really is a fabulous writer of action. This book, weirdly, came across as an out and out romance novel. It hits so many beats of one; the couple realizing separately that they're in love with one another, trying to hide it from the other person, finally telling one another of their true feelings, the rivals for their affections, the families saying they shouldn't be together, trauma to the heroine she can barely overcome, and then finally, happiness in the end. Well, for most. Jerrott Blythe is back, but wow, he is not a happy camper, as his marriage to Lymond's half-sister, Marthe, is... going badly, to put it politely. But aside from the romance, the main thrust of this book is to uncover the truth behind Lymond's parentage. And we do, and I just found it... odd? Like why did Sybilla marry who she married after she thought her true love was dead? It was kinda... weird really. But whatever. I'll just overlook it.

Book #24 is The Table of Less Valued Knights by Marie Phillips. I needed something frivolous after all the Lymond, and this book fit the bill nicely. It's Arthurian in the loosest way possible (Arthur shows up at the beginning, at the Feast of Pentecost, waiting for this year's quest to show up), and is quite anachronistic, but it's obviously not taking itself seriously, so it's fine. Sir Humphrey is a bit of a wash out at Camelot, and after a distasterous quest a few years ago, has been relegated to the Table of Less Valued Knights. He's like two tiers below the Round Table, and despairs of ever returning to the box seats. Enter (after everyone else has left) Elaine (cause every other woman in the Arthurian legends is named Elaine). She has a perfectly good quest to find her kidnapped fiance, so off they go. It's a fun tale, the badguys are pretty bad, and the book is a perfectly good example of entrelacement, when we go off and meet Martha and follow her for awhile and then of course, her story links up with Humphrey's and Elaine's. So yeah, a fun little read by someone who obviously does know the conventions of what they were spoofing. That always makes the spoof better.

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