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Checkmate (The Lymond Chronicles, #6)
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Checkmate (The Lymond Chronicles #6)

4.71 of 5 stars 4.71  ·  rating details  ·  2,024 ratings  ·  127 reviews
The grand finale to Dorothy Dunnett's Lymond Chronicles, "Checkmate" finds Francis Crawford returning to France to lead an army against England. But even as the soldier-scholar succeeds brilliantly on the battlefield, his haunted past becomes a subject of intense interest to forces in both the French and English courts. "Checkmate" is a masterly evocation of the intrigue a ...more
Paperback, 672 pages
Published January 28th 1999 by Penguin (first published 1975)
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(showing 1-30 of 2,993)
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Algernon

A heady experience, for an only child accustomed to single-thread happiness, and not to the moment of creation that occurs when the warp is interlocked with the weft. When the singer is matched with the sounding-board; the dream with the poet. When the sun and the fountain first meet one another.
Side by side they were evading, she and Francis Crawford, a pack of men who intended to kill them.


About time we got to the romance part of this 'historical romance' series. Adventures and battles and j
...more
Sandra
10 stars

I shall harness thee a chariot
of lapis-lazuli and gold
Come into our dwelling, in the
perfume of the cedars.


This fragment of poetry is laced through the chapters of this book, and for me, it evokes the emotions of longing and and finally, fulfillment to be found in the Lymond Chronicles.

Masterfully woven, filled with tension, hope, despair, grief, violence and love; Checkmate brings the saga of Francis Crawford of Culter, Comte de Sevigny to a close. Alas, any story following this is bound
...more
Marquise
Is it logical to be this sad about the “happy ending” of a book? The very phrase sounds like a contradiction in itself, as happy endings are supposed to make you happy, and the sensitive ones might shed some tears too, but essentially ‘tis supposed to make you feel satisfied, elated about the conclusion. And yet . . .

Scratching your heads already? There’s a reason for this, not related to the ending proper. Rather, it’s about the voyage towards that ending, the harrowing path leading to that mo
...more
Heather
WOW! I would give this 6 stars if I could! There are no words to adequately give praise to this final book in the Lymond Chronicles.

Unwillingly brought to France by well-meaning friends, Lymond reluctantly accepts a commission in the armies of King Henri II, while struggling with an array of challenges and complications in his personal life. As passions flare and personalities clash, the mysteries of Lymond’s character and origins become clear, forcing him to deal with his own tarnished past and
...more
Siria
There is, I think, a line in one of Jane Austen's pieces of juvenilia which reads something like:

It was too pathetic for the feelings of Sophia and myself—we fainted alternately upon a sofa.

Yeah, that about sums it up.
Brittany
Do not listen to anyone who tells you that this book is the best of the six. It isn't. (I think we've all agreed that Pawn was.) However, to devotees of the books it will seem like the best, because it's the one with the (relatively) Happy Ending. If you read any of the reviews online they all say the same thing: Dunnett seems to have lost some of her edge. This book pulls out all the stops and employs every last romance novel cliche you can think of. But it doesn't matter. It doesn't matter bec ...more
Nymeria
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Checkmate is a rare book, a unique book. It's the only romance novel (come on, don't deny it. You know it's at heart a romance novel!) that has thousands of pages of character development in the form of the previous 5 books in the series.

So the feels when everything comes together in Checkmate...

The feels...

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Cphe
A wonderfully satisfying conclusion to an extremely convoluted and well plotted historical series The main character Francis Lymond was a tortured soul, an enigma but who lived by his own code of honour. An unforgettable hero more than capably matched by his young wife in name only, Philippa. In fact the whole cast of characters whether heroes or villians were so well drawn.

One had to wonder after following Francis Lymond through all of his trials and political intrigue and across so many contin
...more
Ben
Early in this book, Lymond is cornered in the streets of Lyon by various people intent on murdering him. With his companion Philippa Somerville he embarks on a high-speed chase through the streets and over the rooftops, involving extreme physical danger, courage, agility and a healthy measure of quick-witted verbal assaults on his attackers.

It's a throwback to a similar episode in "Queens' Play", but it's also a fair metaphor for the whole Lymond series. As a reader, I spent much of my time feel
...more
Morgan
It's been exactly a week since I finished this book and I still don't know what to say about it besides something incoherent while flapping my hands about and sobbing. THESE BOOKS, MY GOD.

So instead I'll just plot summarize a bit: This book finds Lymond back in France after the events of book five. He wants to get back to Russia but instead agrees to stay in France for a year to help their campaign against the newly united Spanish and English.

Thankfully, we're reunited with almost everyone I l
...more
Misfit
The final book in the Lymond Chronicles and a spectacular finish! Checkmate opens as Lymond and his band of mercenaries leave England behind and travel to France to serve the French King in his battles with King Phillip. As Lymond is still set upon returning to Russia King Henri offers Lymond the annulment from Philippa that he desperately wants if he serves France for one year - if he doesn't Henri will do all in his power to block the annulment forever. Philippa comes to France to serve as lad ...more
Sarah Heffern
May 09, 2007 Sarah Heffern rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: lovers of history
The Lymond Chronicles books are quite possibly my all-time favorite books, or at least as an adult. There are six thoroughly-researched novels in the series, and each outdoes its predecessor in weaving historic details, compelling characters, and gripping plot twists.

The story follow Francis Crawford of Lymond, a minor Scottish nobleman, through adventures that take him from his native land to England, France, Malta, Greece, North Africa, Russia, and finally back home to Scotland. Along the way
...more
Beth (moonivy)
Jul 05, 2007 Beth (moonivy) rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: historical fiction readers.
Number : 14
Read 8/30/06-2/11/07, 2/16-2/20/05
Checkmate finishes the amazing tale of Francis Crawford
of Lymond in breath-taking, stunning and wonderous fashion.
The book is set in France and almost anything else I could
possibly say plot-wise would be a spoiler. Instead, I'll just rave and say that in a series of books where each one rated a 10, this one was perhaps the best. Lymond is the most fascinating of characters, surrounded by other intricately drawn characters. I can't recommend this serie
...more
Bibliophile
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mei-Lu
Even though I loved the new places Dorothy Dunnett took me to, and appreciate the level of historical detail she included, my interest in Lymond kind of flagged when the books started to focus on the rivalry between Lymond and his nemesis, Gabriel. And sometimes Lymond got so damn self-sacrificing and pretentious I wanted to smack him in the head. BUT in this book I absolutely fell in love with Philippa Somerville and, through her, I fell in love with the series again. I may have skimmed books 3 ...more
Ryan Groesbeck
This was a great finish to the series. Dunnett wields her pen like a knife, and if she waxes flowery on occasion, one can forgive her for the imagery she builds is so vivid you can't help but be sucked in. She's not afraid to use that knife to murder prominent characters, some of whom have been with us for quite some time...but always with surgical intent and driven by plot necessity. These are not killings a la George RR Martin, who especially recently has sometimes felt like he killed characte ...more
Dana
The Lymond Chronicles are the most intricately plotted novels I have read by any author, ever. Your IQ will go up 10 points if you can read them and keep straight everything that is going on!

Also, Dunnett's characters are very convincing and so three-dimensional. Lymond is as enigmatic and infuriating as a hero can come. The villains aren't just cardboard bad guys, they are really human and they are even scarier because of that.

I really don't remember the individual books well enough to say that
...more
Lorie Ahlander Maenza
When I finished reading "Checkmate" I had a hard time letting go of these complicated, intense and very real characters.

Lymond did all that he could to get back to Russia and somehow pick up the pieces of his shattered dream and live his life there. With the interference of those who wanted to salvage what was left of his soul and humanity, they did all that was possible to keep him from Russia. France providing the brass ring, Lymond would give a year's service to the King and the Cardinal woul
...more
Laura
I finished this book a few days ago, and although my brain has settled down a bit, my stomach still has not fully recovered. I read Pawn in Frankincense, The Ringed Castle, and Checkmate back to back, and by the time I got to Checkmate, I was reading all hours of the day and night, completely ignoring work, because I simply had to know how this amazing series would resolve. However I have to admit that reading the last 3 books of the series back to back might have been a mistake -- the roller co ...more
Jean Gobel
I am completely exhausted after reading all six books of the Lymond Chronicles. I have laughed out loud, I have cried, I have been angry and upset. I have loved Francis and hated him, been sick at heart for him. And for Phillippa. You want to mend the relationships with his brother and mother - and sister. You want to offer what he does not want.

In this volume, Lymond is at the height of his military career in France, and at the point of despair of salvaging his mysterious heritage and his com
...more
Rachel
The final book of the Lymond Chronicles, by far DD's greatest book, and the best book I have ever read.

This is Lymond and Phillipa's love story. It is also Lymond's redemption and the resolution of the question of his parentage and issues with his mother. He is a man with more burdens than a single human should be asked to carry, and his friends are all worried about his physical health and mental strength.

All that, a war in France, the marriage of a spoiled Scottish princess, and Nostradamus.

P
...more
Tim
A fine, if not fantastic, conclusion to this six book series.

Dunnett never forgets a detail or leaves a strand undone in about a dozen characters, many of whom are found woven through this complete series.

In this finale, one learns details on the historic connections between France and Scotland, when and how the English were finally defeated in their enclave of Calais, and the northern boundary of France firmed to this day.

It is, in fact, difficult to conclude which track of writing is more wor
...more
Stuart
In the final book of The Lymond Chronicles Ms. Dunnett takes her gloves off and shows her mastery of plot and tension to tremendous and troubling effect.

Having painted herself into a corner in Pawn in Frankincense, she could've easily written an entire adventure-in-fan-service that would have served as a happy if unfulfilling end to the Chronicles.

Instead she feints and twists, parrying with characters and situations the reader's singular hope. The plot is quick and tense and the characters show
...more
Danica
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Leander
A superb conclusion to the Lymond Chronicles, which brings together all the main characters and plot threads into one brilliant, emotionally-charged story. In the last of the six books, Dunnett allows us to see the true scale of Lymond's doubts and weaknesses, and to appreciate the price that he has paid for his irreverent, dazzling romp through 1550s Europe. As always it is beautifully written, often shot through with a glittering thread of humour, with some deliciously funny scenes lightening ...more
Angie Taylor
I finally finished this series, and I have mixed feelings. At times I wanted to throw this book across the room, and then all I wanted to do was caress it lovingly because of how much I was loving it. The entire series about killed me. I know I am dramatic, but I was so emotionally involved with the characters and so deeply wanted them to succeed no matter the cost. The entire series historically occurs during The Hundred Years War between a variety of countries in Europe vying for power and con ...more
Sarah
This book took me forever to read - months and months and month. Why? Because, though I've read it multiple times before and knew how it ended, I knew what I had to get through and my anxiety levels just couldn't stay that high for long. When you're that invested in a book and the characters you know it's worth the read (or the second read, or fifth, or...) I don't want to give away even one little detail to anyone who hasn't read it, suffice it to say that Dorothy always makes reading her books ...more
Lynn Anslow
It seems that Francis Crawford of Lymond, hero of Dunnett's 6-volume Lymond Chronicles, can no longer speak in plain English. Instead, he uses flowery epigrams or quotes obscure French poetry (with no translation and, often, no contextual reference).

Entirely too much of the narration in general is epigrammatic, to the point that it can be hard to figure out what is happening.

The amount of historical detail crammed into this volume is extraordinary; if you want to know what life was like in 1557
...more
Laurie
What can I say that hasn't already been said about Dorothy Dunnett's amazing tour de force with the Lymond Chronicles? A challenging read, densely and intricately woven, infuriating at times, preposterous at others, always compelling and so tightly-wound that it is hard to extricate oneself from the world and the mind/heart of Francis Crawford. His story will always be with me and I look forward to retracing it all in a few years. All the many strands that she has brought together: historical, c ...more
Naomi
May 28, 2007 Naomi rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: European 16th century history buffs
Francis Crawford of Lymond is perhaps one of the most seductive, unreal (and I actually mean totally implausable), brilliant 'hero' I have perhaps ever read. I'm not sure I can imagine how much research Mrs. Dunnett had to put into writing this series but I felt that I had ridden headlong through 16th century Europe and the Ottoman empire and come out battle scarred, terrified and absolutely raving. The cast of characters was immense but the true story is the history and the societies Crawford d ...more
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  • The Dorothy Dunnett Companion: Volume II
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Dorothy Dunnett OBE was a Scottish historical novelist. She is best known for her six-part series about Francis Crawford of Lymond, The Lymond Chronicles, which she followed with the eight-part prequel The House of Niccolò. She also wrote a novel about the real Macbeth called King Hereafter (1982), and a series of mystery novels centred around Johnson Johnson, a portrait painter/spy.

Excerpted from
...more
More about Dorothy Dunnett...
The Game of Kings (The Lymond Chronicles, #1) Queens' Play (The Lymond Chronicles, #2) The Disorderly Knights (The Lymond Chronicles, #3) Pawn in Frankincense (The Lymond Chronicles, #4) The Ringed Castle (The Lymond Chronicles, #5)

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“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.” 11 likes
“Where are the links of the chain ... joining us to the past?” 6 likes
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