Race of Scorpions (The House of Niccolo, #3)
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Race of Scorpions (The House of Niccolò #3)

4.41 of 5 stars 4.41  ·  rating details  ·  1,208 ratings  ·  51 reviews
With the bravura storytelling and pungent authenticity of detail she brought to her acclaimed Lymond Chronicles, Dorothy Dunnett presents The House of Niccol series. The time is the 15th century, when intrepid merchants became the new knighthood of Europe. Among them, none is bolder or more cunning than Nicholas vander Poele of Bruges, the good-natured dyer's apprentice wh...more
Paperback, 560 pages
Published March 30th 1999 by Vintage Books USA (first published May 5th 1990)
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Rosina Lippi
People who are devoted Dorothy Dunnett readers generally fall into two camps: the Lymond Lovers (her first series) and the Niccolo folk. I'm in the second camp. I like Lymond, but I love the House of Niccolo series.

The thing is, I can't pick up any of the Niccolo books without wanting to read the whole series again. And given the complexity and demanding nature of these novels, that's like saying you're just rarin' to swim the Atlantic one more time.

So here I am, in the middle of re-reading the...more
Diane Calhoun
Race of Scorpions is set in many places, but mainly takes us to mid-15th century Cyprus, where the bastard son of the dead King (James/Zacco of Lusignan) is vying with his sister (Queen Carlotta) for the crown. Niccolo and his crew are shanghaied by Carlotta to join in the fight, but ends up on the side of Zacco...though also, not by choice. As always, there is a woman involved (the duplicitous courtesan, Primaflora), who fights for one side, then the other...we are confused by her but in the en...more
Ryan Groesbeck
Oh Dorothy...why am I so attracted to your novels when all they do is confuse me?

I kid (mostly), but if the plotting of any book deserves to be called "byzantine", this is certainly it. Even with the semi-explanation given at the end, this could definitely do with a reread (or two, or three) to try and suss out who did what for what reason.

This is my second readthrough, but it might as well have been the first considering that the first time was almost two years ago, I think, and I remembered...more
Karina
4.5 stars. Dorothy Dunnett is superb as always. My only issue with this book is actually rather silly. I so enjoyed certain characters- the electrifying James of Lusignan (Zacco) and his canny mother, the mutilated former royal mistress, Cropnose- that I was impatient and enjoyed other plots and characters less than I should have.
e
these two series by dorothy dunnett are my absolute favorite. nothing different to say about them; together, they will take you off the planet for a full summer and just might re-direct your life, as they did mine.
Jane
These are the most profoundly detailed historical novels--but the characters are unique and intriguing. Venice, Cyprus, Rhodes, Byzantium...a great window into the clash of cultures that preceded the Renaissance.
Hilary
Great in every way that matters to me: gorgeous language, persuasive characters, historically interesting and moderately bodice-ripping. Fun.
Yati
Plot twists! And crazy political machinations! I'm not entirely sure what happened here, but I couldn't stop reading.

On with the show!
Yasaman
I am, as ever, left speechless and flailing by Dunnett's skill and Niccolo. Niccolo gives me too many feelings. ;_________;
Carol
This is the third book in Dunnett's eight-book House of Niccolo series, which is about Europe and the Mediterranean in the late 15th century. I read the first two volumes years ago, but moving to Boston, going to grad school, and all sorts of other stuff kept me from picking the series back up. I decided that, since I was in the mood for a long historical epic anyway, I should read the remaining books before I forgot everything about the first two.
The Niccolo of the title is Nicholas vander Poel...more
Rosina Lippi
People who are devoted Dorothy Dunnett readers generally fall into two camps: the Lymond Lovers (her first series) and the Niccolo folk. I'm in the second camp. I like Lymond, but I love the House of Niccolo series.

The thing is, I can't pick up any of the Niccolo books without wanting to read the whole series again. And given the complexity and demanding nature of these novels, that's like saying you're just rarin' to swim the Atlantic one more time.

So here I am, in the middle of re-reading the...more
Jean Gobel
The Race of Scorpions, the third edge-of-your-seat volume in Dorothy Dunnett's The House of Niccolo epic, kept me spellbound for two days and nights, with very little time for sleep.

Here, the widowed Nicholas vander Poele, after pulling his life together, has joined with Capt Astorre in waging war in Bologna, then finds himself kidnapped and taken to Cyprus. With his mercenary army following his trail, he finds he must lead them in uniting the island under one ruler. But who will capture his ser...more
Stuart Lutzenhiser
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Joy
I'm sure there have been societies more based on betrayal then war-torn 1460s Cyprus, but it's hard to imagine. Nicholas wants nothing to do with the civil war between Lusignan brother and sister, but he is kidnapped and pitchforked into the middle of it. Both Lusignans think they can buy Nicholas's services, but what it takes is a sadist who stirs up Nicholas's rare urge to kill. Trailed by the vicious Simon's family, Nicholas attempts to protect all his vulnerable dependants, and devise ways o...more
Nathan
In which our mercantile adventurer gets himself involved in a dynastic dispute in the Kingdom of Cyprus, and tangles with Knights Hospitaller, Mamelukes, gay lords and courtesans. This series is starting to settle into a rhythm now after a confusing and bumpy start. Dunnett still doesn't explain everything, which in a work of this density can be sometimes confusing, but you can just let it wash over you and you'll be fine by the end. It's all about the sugar. Rated MA for adult themes, violence,...more
Brittany
I remember the first time through reading the Lymond Chronicles, I occasionally had to take a break from Lymond. I couldn't read them back-to-back. I think that may be what's happening here. I have read these books before, but I don't remember them well. And about three-quarters of the way through this book I just really wanted a break from Niccolo. It's still a staggeringly well-written book, and usually a very fun one. But I think I'll take a breather from these for a bit.
Siria
It's okay to admit that I still don't have the foggiest idea about much of what goes on in this book, right? Especially in the last third, when the plot twists, revelations and political machinations are coming fast and thick. Still, fast-paced enough to be very enjoyable, though, and I think it's a lot easier to spend six hundred odd pages with Niccolo than it is with Lymond. (Don't get me wrong, I'm very fond of Lymond, but the urge to smack him upside the head is so strong.)
Ruth
c1989. Finally caught up with the 3rd book in the seies of "The House of Niccolo" and it certainly was well worth the wait. I must admit though that I kept thinking it was going nowhere and then the plt would veer off onto another unexpected tangent. "Some way off, a donkey brayed; frogs were croaking , and the bushes around him ere ghostly with moths." For a young man, Niccolo has certainly had his share of adventures. Timeless story with Kyrenia featuring heavily.
Kristine
I really liked this book & it is probably a 4.5. Much better than the second book and a more satisfying read. The characters were well developed and the plot (and all the twists and turns) were easier to follow I thought Dunnett took more care in helping the reader to be part of the journey & to glimpse some of the background machinations and thinking processes. Looking forward to starting the next book in the series.
Lesley Alcock
I must admit I am a Lymond fan and I haven't yet warmed to Nicholas. It took me a while to work my way through this novel and although I enjoyed it I am not rushing for the next volume like I did with the Lymond series.

It is a book I will have to read again whilst on holiday when I have hours of time to devote to it rather than reading it piecemeal over several weeks.
Keeley
Another exciting Niccolo tale, this time set in Cyprus. I'm not sure I can forgive Dunnett for killing off [spoiler omitted - you'll know who I mean if you have read this book] but feel reasonably compelled to keep reading the series nonetheless. Dunnett reminds me more and more of Dumas: good plotting, spiced with tragedy, but the characterization is somewhat anachronistic.
Karen
This series covers so much territory with so many competing entities from a bastard King of Cyprus fighting the Queen with folks from Venice, Genoa, Scotland, Bruges, France, Egypt, Turkey, etc with overlapping loyalties and interests and treacheries. Lots of fascinating history here too. And I have at least 3 more in the series!!!
Tim
A short observance of the third book in this series.

Set in the 1400s, this book continues to follow the life of its main character, Nicholas vander Poele, as this time he finds himself in Cyprus - a strategic island even then - in the eastern Mediterranean sea.

Read the first of the series - if you like it you'll follow through
Carolee Doing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Emily
Third of the Niccolos, with some surprises and already some nostalgia for where it all began. I suspect that I'm getting the rest of the series for my birthday. Cool cool cool. But start with the stand-alone King Hereafter (my favorite book?) if you want to get in on the Dunnett scene.
Pat
This is not historic fiction done with broad strokes, but is one of many, many details.
Ellen
There are things about this series that intensely bother me -- like Dunnett's penchant for killing off female characters to give the male characters something to angst about -- but it's not going to stop me from reading everything she's ever written.
Becca
I think this was one of the better books in the series. It was fast paced and since it involved an area of history I knew nothing about I found myself really paying attention. The character Primaflora is intriguing and useful to the plot.
Sarah
Compelling - addictive - intriguing - bewildering.

Characters and settings to die for - Byzantine plot. Gorgeous!

And you just have to love ths style in the writing - the dialogue is fabulous.

Peter
Aug 24, 2010 Peter rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: novel
I found this book much more engrossing than the second in the series. Well written with wonderful characters. This is third in a series of 15th century historical, well semi historical novels.
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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.

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