Again rich in historical detail, intricacy and wonderful characterisation these books can not be rushed they have to be savoured.
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Masterful storytelling. Nov 14, Susan rated it it was amazing. Onto Africa. Only Niccolo could get himself into so much trouble with so much charm. Nov 22, Johanne rated it really liked it. Apr 28, Nicole rated it it was amazing Shelves: favourites. The thing to keep in mind with Dunnett novels, is that though her beautiful prose disguises it well, they are ridiculous.
Gloriously, unabashedly ridiculous. They are James Bond style action and glamour, they are melodrama, they are Dumas-style adventure and wit, and they are absoultely addictive. Do not start reading Scales of Gold unless you have Unicorn Hunt at hand, because you're going to need it when you get to the end. And dear god, that punch to the gut at the end.
It comes after Nicholas has deepened his bond with a lot of his group. Scales of Gold takes us from Europe to Africa, and back again, and the main group we follow- Nicholas, Loppe, Godscalc, Gelis, Diniz, and Bel- have a lot of time to spend together. A lot of the novel is relationships, and then personal discovery, which I think is what I loved so much about it.
For me, It was particularly satisfying to see the relationship between Nicholas and Godscalc deepen.
Scales of Gold (The House of Niccolo, #4) by Dorothy Dunnett
Gelis too is given moments to shine, and I cannot wait to see where her relationship with Nicholas goes. Tobie continues to be a gift. But maybe most important and beautiful of all is the Nicholas and Loppe relationship, which gave me some of my favourite moments of the series so far. I now love Nicholas too, this was the novel where he won me over completely. It was bound to happen. He does ride ostriches, start avalanches, dress up as women, cry when he thinks no one is watching, and also get even in spectacular fashion with those who wrong him, after all.
He is enigmatic and unattainable; though we regularly get access to his thoughts we are frequently excluded from key information. Nicholas witholds information from everyone, the reader included. Yet despite this he is incredibly warm and endearing. Perhaps this is due to the finely drawn supporting characters whose thoughts frequently dwell upon him, or perhaps it's because we are privy to his thoughts and feelings at times when he would rather not have them.
He is a giant excitable puppy dog of a man, with energy and intelligence and mischief to burn. Yet we also know, as well noted in the previous book, that "there is a demon The gut-punch of an end comes after the realisation that occurs to many of these characters- Tobie, Godscalc, Goro, Diniz and maybe even Gelis among them- that they cannot, despite perhaps their better judgement, leave Nicholas. He is too smart, too charismatic, too encompassing, and just too much for them to ignore.
They are sucked into his orbit. And I feel Dunnett has the same effect on me. I expected something like what the ending delivered around half-way through the novel, and then Dunnett convinced me of the opposite. I feel dense, but I don't feel cheated, because the clues are there. And then also, I love when the author is so much smarter than I am. You win, Dorothy. You win, Nicholas. Now onto Unicorn Hunt.
"She had read novels while other people perused the Sunday papers" – Mary Elizabeth Braddon
May 30, Morena added it Shelves: historical-fiction. My rating for this book wavers between 1 and 4 stars and that is why I give it no rating. It deserves 4 stars because it made me ponder about my own choices, about the power of faith, about ambiguity of altruism, it reminded me of my own time spent in the wilderness and how cathartic it can be. It also clarified one major flaw I saw in these books, the walking breathing Adonis Nicholas irresistible to women, men, young and old. If he was not served to us as master of seduction then the end of My rating for this book wavers between 1 and 4 stars and that is why I give it no rating.
If he was not served to us as master of seduction then the end of this book would not be as powerful. Still I feel that Dunnett has overdone the characterization of Nicholas because after all he is only a human and I know few people who too were not drawn to him. Dunnett made me curious about him in the first book but once his Gary Sue personality came through, and I was constantly reminded of his lips shaped like caterpillars, his big clown eyes, round face, dimples, frizzy hair… I was disillusioned and repulsed. What's worse in this book he acted and talked like a fucking hipster who moved to a downtrodden area to be cool.
This book was also most predictable of the four books and as the plot shifted to Africa it became downright sickening to read and it dragged like that whole continent drags. I hate Europeans who went to Africa, to exploit its resources, to buy slaves, to meddle, to Christianize and this book was about them but I read on in hope that Loppe would stay in Africa and that Godscalc would die. The relationship between Loppe and Nicholas was ridiculous in all books but in this book it reached the cheesiness of melodrama complete with tears and high passions. Like Nicholas, Loppe was utterly improbable.
She might as well made him a Martian then someone like Loppe could be more believable.
Finally, I am sick of the blond blue-eyed villains, absolutely sick of this narrow literary devise. Dunnett went one step further to irritate me and made the blacks in Africa flawless, bright, magnificent and fucking beautiful.
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Her books would have been nearly flawless then. This is the 4th book in the series. I have read the House of Niccolo Series of eight books, and I have found her characters to be deep and rich. They are not without flaws and make mistakes and suffer from the consequences. She often has a grand event, for example Carnival in Venice that she describes vividly. She takes time to give rich details of the time period, her settings, and the backgrounds for her plots.
Her impeccable research is second to none. But that's not the only reason I love her work so much. What she does best is tell a great story. New discoveries, strong trade amongst a wide variety of countries from the Mediterranean to Iceland and Scotland give the characters great opportunities to make and loose fortunes.
She draws you into the book and then keeps you there like a river with a strong current that sweeps you along over rocks and rapids as well as thundering waterfalls of action and emotion. Dorothy Dunnett books stand the test of time, because great writing and story telling will never go out of style. May 30, Nicholas Whyte rated it really liked it. The ground has been well laid, as one of the supporting cast from the first three books was an African ex-slave who turns out to be extremely well-connected back in his homeland. It's a good book, as they all are, but the portrayal of Timbuktu as a center of culture, learning, commerce and communication is particularly vivid, and directly challenges any perception of pre-colonisation Africa as somehow backward and savage.
On the other hand the violence and illness endured by the protagonist and his friends are pretty graphically portrayed as well, so there is a certain squick factor.
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- Scales Of Gold The Fourth Book Of The House Of Niccolò?
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Still, very much recommended. Feb 01, Kay added it. Was happy it was only Besides, I never really got to like her. What I really don't like is how Gelis spoils Unicorn Hunt. That story sinks into dull, repetitive, boring pettiness, dragged there by Gelis. Mar 01, Penelope Green rated it it was amazing. I was briefly on the fence about this re-read - 8 dense books while I have another 30 items on the To Read shelf The development of Gelis and partner or opponent, the stretching of the scene to Africa and Nicholas' finding of wisdom I now desperately want to remember what happens next.
The writing remains fabulous even though it takes a little longer to read and the moving of the scene to Africa adds real breadth - the acknowledge I was briefly on the fence about this re-read - 8 dense books while I have another 30 items on the To Read shelf The writing remains fabulous even though it takes a little longer to read and the moving of the scene to Africa adds real breadth - the acknowledgement that civilisation and learning were also found outside renaissance Europe is rare for books written by Europeans set in this era.
Neither the book nor this review will make any sense if you haven't read at least books 1 and 3 of the series of course. The scope and intricacy of Dunnett's books remain consistent and while I won't call them accessible, they are immersive.
Once you're in the 15th century world of merchants and bankers you'll find it hard to detach. Aug 13, James Spencer rated it really liked it. I love Dunnett's historical fiction partly because the mystery of the machivellian plotting but also because of her descriptions of places and times usually overlooked. As such, one of favorites is the second book in the Niccolo series set in 15th century Trebizond.
Scales of Gold is equally wonderful for the same reason; her descriptions of the difficulties of travel in 15th century Africa are simply fascinating and her version of life in Timbuktu is very convincing. Dunnett can be hard to read I love Dunnett's historical fiction partly because the mystery of the machivellian plotting but also because of her descriptions of places and times usually overlooked. Dunnett can be hard to read as she does not tell you what her characters are thinking and leaves it to the reader as well as the other characters figure out based on what is said and done.
This can at times make the stories hard to follow but for me that is much of the joy, figuring out everyone's motivations. I count myself lucky that I still have four of the Niccolo stories left to read before starting Lymond all over again. Jul 12, Joy rated it it was ok. Nicholas leads a band of allies and enemies into Africa hoping to find an easier way into the rich interior.
Scales Of Gold The Fourth Book Of The House Of Niccolò
He also hopes to avoid all the enemies he has accumulated in Europe, to return the many favors of a friend, and as usual has other reasons no one knows about. This story begins among the many complications of Venice and smooths out into the simplicity of the desert - but Nicholas is a magnet for emotional complexities. I had great difficulty getting through the African jungle section, beca Nicholas leads a band of allies and enemies into Africa hoping to find an easier way into the rich interior. I had great difficulty getting through the African jungle section, because Dunnett is so good at conveying the sheer bloodthirstiness of the atmosphere.
Whereas some characters in the series are fictional, it is worth taking note that some of them actually did exist and some of the events did occur.
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