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Dorothy Dunnett quotes (showing 1-30 of 820)

“I would give you my soul in a blackberry pie; and a knife to cut it with.”
Dorothy Dunnett, The Disorderly Knights
“I wish to God,” said Gideon with mild exasperation, “that you’d talk—just once—in prose like other people.”
Dorothy Dunnett, The Game of Kings
“Facts are the soil from which the story grows. Imagination is a last resort.”
Dorothy Dunnett
“Man is a being of varied, manifold and inconstant nature. And woman, by God, is a match for him.”
Dorothy Dunnett, The Disorderly Knights
“Jerott, for God’s sake! Are you doing this for a wager?’ said Lymond, his patience gone at last. ‘What does anyone want out of life? What kind of freak do you suppose I am? I miss books and good verse and decent talk. I miss women, to speak to, not to rape; and children, and men creating things instead of destroying them. And from the time I wake until the time I find I can’t go to sleep there is the void—the bloody void where there was no music today and none yesterday and no prospect of any tomorrow, or tomorrow, or next God-damned year.”
Dorothy Dunnett, The Disorderly Knights
“[Robin Stewart] was your man. True for you, you had withdrawn the crutch from his sight, but still it should have been there in your hand, ready for him. For you are a leader-don't you know it? I don't, surely, need to tell you?-And that is what leadership means. It means fortifying the fainthearted and giving them the two sides of your tongue while you are at it. It means suffering weak love and schooling it till it matures. It means giving up you privicies, your follies and your leasure. It means you can love nothing and no one too much, or you are no longer a leader, you are led.”
Dorothy Dunnett, Queens' Play
“I despised men who accepted their fate. I shaped mine twenty times and had it broken twenty times in my hands.”
Dorothy Dunnett, The Game of Kings
“Today,’ said Lymond, ‘if you must know, I don’t like living at all. But that’s just immaturity boggling at the sad face of failure. Tomorrow I’ll be bright as a bedbug again.”
Dorothy Dunnett, The Disorderly Knights
“For an hour, blended with all she could offer, something noble had been created which had nothing to do with the physical world. And from the turn of his throat, the warmth of his hair, the strong, slender sinews of his hands, something further; which had. Though she combed the earth and searched through the smoke of the galaxies there was no being she wanted but this, who was not and should not be for Philippa Somerville.”
Dorothy Dunnett, Checkmate
“The coast's a jungle of Moors, Turks, Jews, renegades from all over Europe, sitting in palaces built from the sale of Christian slaves. There are twenty thousand men, women and children in the bagnios of Algiers alone. I am not going to make it twenty thousand and one because your mother didn't allow you to keep rabbits, or whatever is at the root of your unshakable fixation."

"I had weasels instead," said Philippa shortly.

"Good God," said Lymond, looking at her. "That explains a lot.”
Dorothy Dunnett, Pawn in Frankincense
“Repressively, Lymond himself answered. “I dislike being discussed as if I were a disease. Nobody ‘got’ me,” he said.”
Dorothy Dunnett, The Game of Kings
“It was one of the occasions when Lymond asleep wrecked the peace of mind of more people than Lymond awake.”
Dorothy Dunnett, Queens' Play
“And the English army, wheeling, started south at a gallop over the hill pass into Ettrick, followed by twenty men and eight hundred sheep in steel helmets.”
Dorothy Dunnett, The Disorderly Knights
“If I can’t be personal, I don’t want to argue,” said his hostess categorically. “I may be missing your points, but you’re much too busy dodging mine.”
Dorothy Dunnett, The Game of Kings
“Versatility is one of the few human traits which are universally intolerable. You may be good at Greek and good at painting and be popular. You may be good at Greek and good at sport, and be wildly popular. But try all three and you’re a mountebank. Nothing arouses suspicion quicker than genuine, all-round proficiency.”

Kate thought. “It needs an extra gift for human relationships, of course; but that can be developed. It’s got to be, because stultified talent is surely the ultimate crime against mankind. Tell your paragons to develop it: with all those gifts it’s only right they should have one hurdle to cross.”

“But that kind of thing needs co-operation from the other side,” said Lymond pleasantly. “No. Like Paris, they have three choices.” And he struck a gently derisive chord between each. “To be accomplished but ingratiating. To be accomplished but resented. Or to hide behind the more outré of their pursuits and be considered erratic but harmless.”
Dorothy Dunnett, The Game of Kings
“To the men exposed to his rule Lymond never appeared ill: he was never tired; he was never worried, or pained, or disappointed, or passionately angry. If he rested, he did so alone; if he slept, he took good care to sleep apart. “—I sometimes doubt if he’s human,” said Will, speaking his thought aloud. “It’s probably all done with wheels.”
Dorothy Dunnett, The Game of Kings
“Oh, well. Everyone else has suave, cosmopolitan sheep: why not us? The Millers at Hepple have a ewe that’s been to Kelso three times, and they’ve never been farther than Ford in their lives.” Kate peered absently into the farm pond, and clucked again. “Thoughtless creatures. They’ve forgotten the fish.”
Dorothy Dunnett, The Game of Kings
“It was a piece of advice only, and aimed at myself as much, I suppose, as at you.—For those of easy tongues, she said. Remember, some live all their lives without discovering this truth; that the noblest and most terrible power we possess is the power we have, each of us, over the chance-met, the stranger, the passer-by outside your life and your kin. Speak, she said, as you would write: as if your words were letters of lead, graven there for all time, for which you must take the consequences. And take the consequences.”
Dorothy Dunnett, Queens' Play
“Philippa Somerville, standing back a little, did not withdraw her arm. In her white face, a shadow of motherly irritation appeared. ‘Has no one here any sense? Be quiet and sit down. The world will look after itself for a night, without your hand on the rim.”
Dorothy Dunnett, The Disorderly Knights
“Perfectly prepared to be an eavesdropper but unwilling to look like one, Philippa backed quickly towards the door and collided, hard, with an unseen person striding forward equally fast into the room. There was a hiss, more than echoed by herself as the breath was struck from her body. Then two cool, friendly hands held and steadied her, one on her shoulder and one on her flat waist, and a low voice said, ‘Admirable Philippa. I always enter my battlefields in reverse, too. But my own battlefields, my little friend. Not other people’s.”
Dorothy Dunnett, Pawn in Frankincense
“What’s wrong? Has Francis been rude? Then you must try to overlook it. I know you wouldn’t think so, but he is thoroughly upset by Tom Erskine’s death; and when Francis is troubled he doesn’t show it, he just goes and makes life wretched for somebody.”
Dorothy Dunnett, The Disorderly Knights
“So small a spirit, to lodge such sorrows as mankind has brought you. Live … live.… Wait for me, new, frightened soul. And though the world should reel to a puny death, and the wolves are appointed our godfathers, I will not fail you, ever.”
Dorothy Dunnett, The Disorderly Knights
“You choose to play God, and the Deity points out that the post is already adequately filled. During an outburst of besotted philanthropy he had redeemed Lymond, but Lymond quite simply was not prepared to be rescued; and least of all by his brother.”
Dorothy Dunnett, The Game of Kings
“He regards boredom, I observe, as the One and Mighty Enemy of his soul. And will succeed in conquering it, I am sure—if he survives the experience.”
Dorothy Dunnett, The Disorderly Knights
“Depose him,’ said Will Scott, astonished.

‘The Grand Master’s holy office terminates with his life.’

‘And can nobody think of an answer to that?’ said Will Scott.”
Dorothy Dunnett, The Disorderly Knights
“If you can repress for a moment your spinster-like longing to meddle in my affairs,’ said Lymond cuttingly, from the door, ‘I am waiting to go.”
Dorothy Dunnett, Pawn in Frankincense
“Talk to me, Richard. It isn’t difficult. Move the teeth and agitate the tongue. Tell me news of the family. Am I superseded yet? Oh, Richard, a blush!”
Dorothy Dunnett, The Game of Kings
“Kate viewed him suspiciously. “I don’t see why I should abandon my entertainment because of your conscience.”

“It isn’t quite conscience so much as horrified admiration,” said Lymond.”
Dorothy Dunnett, The Game of Kings
“I am telling you now that you did right with Robin Stewart and I am telling you that the error you made came later, when you took no heed of his call. It was too late then, I know it. But he should have been in your mind. He was your man. True for you, you had withdrawn the crutch from his sight, but still it should have been there in your hand, ready for him. For you are a leader—don’t you know it? I don’t, surely, need to tell you?—And that is what leadership means. It means fortifying the fainthearted and giving them the two sides of your tongue while you are at it. It means suffering weak love and schooling it till it matures. It means giving up your privacies, your follies and your leisure. It means you can love nothing and no one too much, or you are no longer a leader, you are the led.”
Dorothy Dunnett, Queens' Play
“Philippa, enviously, wished she could do the same, and then decided she would rather be interesting and sensitive.”
Dorothy Dunnett, Pawn in Frankincense

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