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Publisher's Summary

The Game of Kings: First in The Lymond Saga. It's August 1547, and unrest in Europe is rife. Scotland, nominally ruled by 4 year old Queen Mary, is heaving with intrigue - and hot gossip. The notorious rebel, Crawford of Lymond, is rumoured to be back in Edinburgh.

The city is sealed, but such things never worry 'Lymond'. As usual, he leaves a characteristic trail of hue and cry, vanished contraband, and a drunken sow.Infamous for his ingenuity, Lymond has his own plan, starting with setting fire to his brother's castle and purloining his mother's silver. Stories about him abound, agreeing only that he's not a man to sit idle. With Europe recently unbalanced by royal deaths, he'll take a hand in The Game Of Kings.

©1961 Dorothy Dunnett (P)2000 W F Howes

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4.2 out of 5.0
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At Last, the best in historical fiction!

I'm a fan of the Game of Thrones series (assuming it will one day be finished). But Dunnett's "Lymond Chronicles" has everything GoT has, squared. To begin this book is to step into another universe. The first time I read the series--this is my third time through--when I closed the cover at the end of Book 6 I felt like Adam or Eve, unwillingly leaving Eden behind.
Francis Crawford of Lymond is a hero you will never, ever forget.
The story begins in Scotland in 1547. The series takes you across Europe and Asia and back. The characters become a part of your world. The settings are exquisite, or barren, or squalid, or magnificent. The research is impeccable. The humor can be dry, droll, or outrageously slapstick. The danger is breath-taking. The background story--of the little girl, Mary Queen of Scots--is a compelling scaffold for the drama of the Crawford family.

13 of 13 people found this review helpful

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Disappointing

I've loved the Lymond Chronicles since I discovered them in the 80s and have reread them so many times my books are literally falling apart. I just couldn't take this production and gave up on it after about an hour. Samuel Gillies read this as if it were a stage play with an almost vaudeville cadence; it was painful to hear. Definitely wish Andrew Napier had done the narration.
The rest of the recorded books in the series are SO much better.

10 of 10 people found this review helpful

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Best historical series ever! But awful narration!

Would you listen to The Game of Kings again? Why?

I can't bring myself to listen to the narration again. If I didn't want to have the entire series in my library I would return it. I'll have to just read the ebook when I want to enjoy this wonderful series again and again.

What other book might you compare The Game of Kings to and why?

It can only compare to the other five books in the series. It's so rich, complex, mature, and also frequently hysterically funny!

What didn’t you like about Samuel Gillies’s performance?

He's way too mature for the main characters, especially Francis Crawford of Lymond. This is supposed to be a young man with a voice that's described as light, mellow, extremely witty and clever, sometimes cutting and sarcastic. Mr. Gillies sounds like an over-aged and over-dramatic stage actor, and is completely wrong for this series. My dearest hope is that someday Andrew Napier, the narrator of the rest of the series, will redo this volume.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

I frequently laughed and cried when reading this book multiple times. The narration of this audio book however just makes me angry.

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

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Narrator too dry for story

While absolutely competent, the narrator is completely wrong for this swashbuckling adventure story. I would have cast a younger more excitable voice.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Fabulous tale - better heard aloud than read.

Would you listen to The Game of Kings again? Why?

I would listen to it many times over the years. I had read the books several times, but it's so much easier to listen to this one due to the elegance and complexity of the story and the language. The reader is terrific.

What does Samuel Gillies bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

He brings the 1547/1548 era to life with his understanding of the language of the day.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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It doesn't get any better.

Every historical novelist that you like will have read and loved Dorothy Dunnett. Read everything she wrote , you won't regret it.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Awful

Horrible. The scenes were never set. It's just dialogue between a dozen people with I monotone voice reading all the parts. Sorry.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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The Game of Kings

This book is one of my favorites. I do wish that they had chosen a younger sounding voice for the narrator though.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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"Lymond is back"

"Lymond is back." The fist line of an incredible book. I absolutely adore this series, and I'm so glad to see Game of Kings finally on Audible. An amazing sage covering one end of Scotland to the other, and encompassing a large cast of character, the first book in the Lymond saga is perfect as a listen. Lymond is a complex character, and in this, our first introduction to him, we see him in all his glory, running the English ragged, driving the Scots crazy, and inspiring strong emotion in everybody around him. One thing you can never say about him - he is never boring. So enjoyed listening to a book I've read many, many times, and I must say, I got even more out of it.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Narrators voice is too mature for Lymond.

Gillies' voice works for some of the characters but not for Lymond or Will. Gillies' maturer voice just didn't work for me.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • prior.mary
  • 01-29-14

A kaleidoscope of the 16th Century

What made the experience of listening to The Game of Kings the most enjoyable?

I've always loved this series and it was great to be able to listen to it at my leisure as I got on with my household chores. It's an intricate and carefully developed story, like a piece of beautiful embroidery. It's a high romance with characters who develop over time and there are all kinds of twists and turns in the plot, some of which will only become clear in later volumes. It may take a little while to get attuned to Dorothy Dunnet's style but once you do, you'll be hooked for life!

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Game of Kings?

Don't want to answer this as far as character and plot are concerned as it would spoil the book for others. The jewel bright descriptions of life in 16C Scotland though are brilliant and the constant twists and turns of the plot are a delight.

What do you think the narrator could have done better?

The narration was good in many ways. However, the Lymond character and many of the others are young, challenging and humorous and this needs to be reflected in their dialogue. The narrator's style was a bit ponderous and didn't really reflect the sharp wit of the characters he portrayed. Even Sybilla, although not a young woman, sounded really ancient rather than the 'Helen Mirren' image I've always held of her.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

Yes - more than one - again, plot spoiler.

Any additional comments?

This is a very welcome series and I thoroughly enjoyed listening to the story again. However, I did feel that the narrator had gravitas rather than the smooth sophistication and wit that the story needed.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Marianne
  • 08-05-15

Such a wonderful story

I have read Dorothy Dunnett's novels a number of times in the past and marvelled at the historical detail and the story telling invention. Reading has become more difficult for me recently, and I listened to this audio book with great pleasure.

Of course, I already have Lymond's voice in my head, so the narrator would have found it difficult to have exceeded all my expectations. I expect that many listeners will feel the same. It is for this reason that I have not given five stars for the narration, but the story was well told.

If anyone could persuade David Tennant to record these books I think he might render a very acceptable Francis Crawford.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • ingrid
  • 05-05-15

Couldn't get to grips with this

Would you try another book written by Dorothy Dunnett or narrated by Samuel Gillies?

I have read most of the Dorothy Dunnett books in the past and loved them, but had to give up on the audiobook as I found it tedious and long-windeded.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Marietta, almonds mother who was spiky, wise and intelligent.

Would you be willing to try another one of Samuel Gillies’s performances?

No

You didn’t love this book--but did it have any redeeming qualities?

The book is wonderful, complex and many layered but the audio version just didn't capture this for me at all.

Any additional comments?

A real disappointment.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Caroline
  • 01-20-14

Something missing in narration

If you could sum up The Game of Kings in three words, what would they be?

Excellent but Disappointing

Did the narration match the pace of the story?

Not always

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Not possible!! Takes days!

Any additional comments?

Well Done Audible.<br/>I know these books inside out .... and the first shock was hearing the pronunciation of the main character's name! In my head he has always been Lymond as in "limpet' not Lymond as in "lyre"! but that is a moot point. It has been a revealing experience listening rather than reading the story, and even though I know it well, it's still been absorbing. Finding people to read the Dorothy Dunnett novels must be extremely challenging. They need a good Scots and Irish accents. They need to be able to speak Italian, French and heaven knows what else - authentically and accurately. They need to be able to read complex poetry and imbue obscure references with meaning; so on the whole Mr Gillies does a very good job. but its not quite enough. His voice is mature, steady and the reading is professional, but these books are full of subtle humour, sarcasm and irony, and are sometimes hilarious (the drunk sow) but this does not come across in Mr Gillies reading. Which is a shame.Nonetheless, if you are a fan of Dorothy Dunnett or you like incredible historical novels, you'll still enjoy it.<br/>I'm looking forward to Queens Play - already downloaded!

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Caz
  • 05-25-15

The best historical novel you will ever read

Not the best narrator but the story is marvellous and nothing can detract from its intricate, intertwining plot :-)

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 09-26-17

one of my favourite books

Loved it... read several times and never tire of it. The series is fantastic and so absorbing.

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  • Malcolm&#39;s Cousin
  • 03-19-17

Histerical Drama at it's Best!

Would you consider the audio edition of The Game of Kings to be better than the print version?

Lovely, Lymond and his time brought to life, even if there's a certain mispronunciation, the Chapter headings, french, spanish, pig Latin and 16th century French and Spanish is audible/ and translatable.. <br/>One reader .. all the voices, but Christian to Lennox, Lymond to Meg Douglas, Mariotta to the King of the Gypsies.. wonderful.

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Game of Kings?

Probably, the trial.

Would you listen to another book narrated by Samuel Gillies?

Yes, so sorry he didn't narrate the rest of the Lymond books.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

yes.

Any additional comments?

Shame the narrator wasn't kept for the rest of the Lymond series. <br/>

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  • M.E.
  • 10-27-16

compelling

if at times a little arch and meritricious wholly appropriate to the principle character and the story itself always drives one to listen to the next chapter...even at 4am

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  • S. T. Wills
  • 05-23-15

An old story.

I read all the books originally , but hearing them again with the narrator's clever accents brought it to life. I was addicted all over again !

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  • Valerie
  • 12-08-13

Good story spoiled by poor narration

Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

No. The narration makes it hard to follow

Who was your favorite character and why?

Lemons. A latter day Robin Hood

How could the performance have been better?

Intonation in the correct place. Some emotion in the reading...

Do you think The Game of Kings needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

It has one.

2 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Suzanna
  • 11-18-16

Excellent historical fiction, but hard to follow

I think this very interesting book has not transitioned well to audio book. Dorothy Dunnett introduces a fascinating period in Scottish history. The story is slow moving but comes to a fantastic climax. However, I really struggled with the book in some parts. Like most nobles of the time, the characters are fluent in English, ancient French and Latin, as well as other languages. Her writing is peppered with these languages. If I was reading the book I could stop and look them up, but with the audiobook I could not follow these parts of the story and dialogue.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful