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Pawn in Frankincense (The Lymond Chronicles #4)

4.63  ·  Rating Details ·  2,723 Ratings  ·  150 Reviews
For the first time Dunnett's Lymond Chronicles are available in the United States in quality paperback editions.

Pawn in Frankincense is the fourth in the legendary Lymond Chronicles. Somewhere within the bejeweled labyrinth of the Ottoman empire, a child is hidden. Now his father, Francis Crawford of Lymond, soldier of fortune and the exiled heir of Scottish nobility, is s
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Kindle Edition, 514 pages
Published (first published 1969)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Marquise
How do you review a book for which the current rating system with its maximum five stars looks so insufficient? That’s the dilemma facing me. And as much as I think I can’t do justice to it, words might convey what the five stars can’t: explain why exactly I came to love this.

The Chronicles of Lymond had a very rough start for me, very rough; not so much for the usual reasons as for the protagonist character himself, and I was highly sceptical of the day I’d adore the series ever arriving. Like
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Algernon
Sep 27, 2013 Algernon rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, 2013

I have run out of stars to award and out of superlatives to describe how awesome this historical epic by Dorothy Dunnett is. The previous three books were all five stars for me, but Pawn takes the game to a whole new level of emotional turmoil. Gone is the playful, mischievous tone of the youtfull Francis Lymond. Gone is, for the moment, his political ambition to make a name for himself and to prop up his beloved Scotland teetering monarchy. This time it's personal!

- 'I wish to make my fortune
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Sandra
Nov 15, 2010 Sandra rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Holy smokin' story! I nearly had a heart attack several times and if I hadn't been at work, I would've sobbed my eyeballs out.

And of course, now I can't stop, so planned November reads??? Bye-bye! This series is absolutely wonderful.

Why are people surprised that Lymond loves? Of course he does -- so intensely he just can't show it.

I can't say anything at all without it being a spoiler...Lymond takes a gift to Sultan Suleiman in Istanbul from the King of France chasing his bastard son before the
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Morgan
May 11, 2010 Morgan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010-reads
OH MY GOD MY HEART. I just....WHAT. SO UPSETTING. Every book I think it can't possibly get worse and then it DOES. And every book I think I can't possibly love this book series more and I do.

I think it's been years since a book has made my cry uncontrollably like I did reading this one. So heartbreaking and yet so good.

The plot is crazy as usual and this book, like the third, was action packed pretty much from start to finish. All the new characters were great, especially Marthe, who is badass
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Misfit
Pawn in Frankincense opens up shortly after the end of The Disorderly Knights, as Jerrott and Philippa track down Lymond on his search to find Francis' child, stolen by renegade Knight Graham Reed Malett and hidden somewhere in the heart of the Ottoman Empire. Francis uses his position as an emissary of France delivering gifts to Suleiman the Magnificent as an entrée into the mysterious world of the east as he and his companions continue their desperate search for Lymond's son. However, the deli ...more
Danica
Mar 27, 2011 Danica rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Oooooh boy. I feel like I'm at the top of a rollercoaster's first, steepest drop. Here I go.

Edit: ARRRRRGH SO FUCKING GREAT.

EXTREMELY LENGTHY THOUGHTS TO COME LATER.

Edit the second:

I could not stop reading this book. Stayed up until 4 am on a weeknight again, then proceeded during the next day to read it in the bathroom, over a breakfast of oatmeal, and in the car, while waiting for traffic lights to turn green. Seen by the lucid light of day this fixation seems a little overwrought. Why am I w
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Kate Sherrod
The character of Philippa Somerville pretty well stole my heart in the second half of the prior Lymond novel, The Disorderly Knights, as I watched her turn from passionate Lymond-hater to grudging Lymond supporter largely via her well-developed sense of fair play. You've got to enjoy any character who can not only admit she's wrong, but take all the necessary steps to redress the wrongs she's done in thought or deed. Philippa is, in other words, a character with character. And she's not even a g ...more
Brittany
Well, I keep changing my mind about which of these books is my favorite. This one comes up more often than others, though, so I think this may just be It. (For the curious, the books in order of quality (generally) go: 4, 3, 6, 1, 2, 5.)

In this book, Lymond finally squares off with Gabriel. Of course, there are plenty of enigmas, traps, and red herrings along the way, before everyone finally ends up in Istabul (Byzantium, Constantinople, or Stamboul, depending on where and when you are in the bo
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Supriya
Feb 10, 2009 Supriya rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have NEVER read poetry so obscure that Googling it doesn't turn up at all. I can now paraphrase the Koran's injunctions on left-handed people, recite the names and succession of upto ten of the 16th century Grand Masters of the Hospitaller Knights, use the word 'corybantic' in conversation, and probably even play a little bit of chess. And for all that, my god, the book still took my heart out and ate it. I hate Lymond. HATE him.

Oh Jerott Blyth, I love you, though.
Elizabeth
Apr 21, 2008 Elizabeth added it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Elizabeth by: Sherwood Smith, Ellen Kushner
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Shannon
Please, do me a favor, and block off a significant portion of your day to finish this book ALONE. I had a busy week, and ended up only having time to read on the bus. When it got to that scene I was finding it difficult to breathe, difficult to continue reading without shaking and crying, and I had to take breaks from the scene to breathe and look out of the window so I wouldn’t throw the book across the crowded Ride On bus and break down into tears. On the walk from the bus stop to my building ...more
Jackie
The words now had meaning. All poetry had meaning, and sorrow she had never envisaged.

It would take a review approximately the length of the book itself to do Pawn in Frankincense justice, and even that would likely only capture a fraction of the topics up for discussion. I'm going to breeze past the ever-sexy brand of Orientalism, the through-line of drugs, and the beautiful and telling descriptive language Dunnett employs.

Is this entire series about a man learning, at long last, how to have fr
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April
Nov 30, 2014 April rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was gripping, if sometimes painful, reading. As other reviewers have mentioned, a 5 star rating feels inadequate. At this point, I'm certain this is the best fiction series I have read. Ever. Bar none.
Great characters. Ripping story. Fantastic writing. The historical elements are meticulously researched, yet woven into the stories perfectly. The books get rave reviews from virtually all readers. Many reviewers mention reading the series multiple times. I expect I will do so also. I am extre
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Cphe
Fourth book in the series of the wonderful Lymond Chronicles. In this action packed adventure Francis Lymond and his entourage (for want of a better word) find themselves in the heart of the Ottoman empire on the trail of Lymond's arch nemesis, the wonderfully sinister and machiavellian Graham Reid Mallet.

Another convoluted and compelling plot, in the hands of a masterful storyteller. Well worth a look.
Erica Smith
Mar 16, 2014 Erica Smith rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A perfect, horrible book.

(Anyone who's read it knows exactly what I mean. For those who haven't: the structure, urgency and clarity of the previous three books can be faulted; this one, no. It's completely readable and enticing down through the part where your nails are digging holes in your palms.

I meant to say something about Lymond and point of view, and I'd forgotten that this book barely ever gets into his head either: the dreadful climax is seen from Jerott's perspective. I love Jerott, ev
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Bibliophile
Still one of the most emotionally devastating and beautifully written novels I have ever read. There are a couple of scenes in here, that still, a dozen years and three re-reads later, make me sob like a baby. (If you've ever wondered what an ichneumon is - a kind of mongoose - or what 16 century Constantinople looked like, you'll satisfy those cravings with this book too. Did I mention how beautifully written it is?)

And Lymond … he is at his most human in this one, vulnerable, lovable and self-
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Korynn
Feb 08, 2010 Korynn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book introduces Phillippa, girl adventurer, determined to make up for her past bad behavior by finding Lymond's lost child. However, she is joined by some of the regular cast and a new character, a mysterious woman who is disturbingly similar to Lymond. The entire book is a game as the cast dashes from exotic destination to the next, unsure if they are the pursuer or being toyed with. Lymond is finally faced with a horrific choice and is it unclear if he will be able to recover.
Linda
Aug 23, 2015 Linda rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My favourite of the Lymond books in which Phillippa takes centre stage.
Ryan Groesbeck
Jul 22, 2011 Ryan Groesbeck rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dorothy-dunnett
I was exclaiming and rooting OUT LOUD through the final sections of this book, which is highly unusual for me. Luckily I was alone when that happened.

This book is a big improvement over both the second book (which, although I liked it better, moved very slowly) and the third (which was a trifle too labyrinthine for me, although subsequent readings may improve that), but not up to the incredibleness of the 1st novel.

Lymond in this book goes hopping all over the Mediterranean in pursuit of his l
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DayDreamer
So so so good. The bad part of finishing it is that I can't start the next one before the end of the holidays. Or, to be on the safe side of passing my exams, before the end of January. Which sucks big time.

Still, I got to read one hell of a mind fuck, one that I need time to process properly, so perhaps it is better this way. Or that is what I'll be telling myself for the time being.

Marthe - I see in her what most people only see in Lymond - the surface. The anger, bitterness, rough edges. They
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Susan
Sep 07, 2007 Susan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is my second time through the Lymond Chronicles. I read them for the first time about a decade previous. Turns out, for me, that's about the perfect amount of time to have forgotten many of the twists and turns. So it's been a joy to reread them and fall in love with Lymond all over again. Ms. Dunnett has a knack for not telling the whole story right up front, she's always got a trick or two up her sleeve. So if you come to the end of this book and feel that Lymond has become something of a ...more
Susan
Sep 15, 2013 Susan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: loved-it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Stuart
Ms. Dunnett far outstripped the first three books in the series with this one in terms of both quality and plot.

Far from being a superbly-crafted adventurous romp with surprising depth and emotional weight, as the three previous novels were, Pawn in Frankincense is a much more internal novel. Despite a plot that spans the Mediterranean and the wonders of the court of Suleiman the Magnificent, the internal landscape of each character is explored lovingly but thoroughly.

From the struggles of Jerro
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Karen
In this book, the light-hearted, mischievous fun of the previous books in the series is gone. In its place, we are given deepening loss and sadness. In previous books, Francis Crawford was the character who possessed secret information on which the plot turned, and that, along with his extraordinary talents, made him powerful. In this book, there are layers of secret information that give others power over Crawford, or that simply make Crawford aware that his world is not quite what he thought i ...more
Anita
Sep 14, 2012 Anita rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Okay, six stars already. All I can say is, start at the beginning of the series, and feast!

Update, after completing the book: this book continued many of the deleriously enjoyable descriptive and action acrobatics which I've so enjoyed in this series. However, I'm always disappointed when an accomplished author resorts to horrific acts of brutality, albeit to explain the vileness of a certain character. I suppose we, as readers, get inured to this, but I fear we also consent to a certain amount
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Joana Leitão Teixeira
Um grande livro (para quem gosta do género!). Mais uma vez a autora leva-nos através de um jogo de xadrez muito bem montado, com reviravoltas brutais e que nem sempre acabam bem. O final do livro é triste e pesado mas não menos fantástico por isso! E tendo em conta que este é o 4º volume de uma saga de 6 ainda há esperança, que no final, tudo acabe (minimamente) bem! :P O facto de maior parte da narrativa se passar em Istambul, cidade que recentemente visitei, durante o século XVI dando vida a t ...more
Cathy
Jul 16, 2010 Cathy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Now this is the best so far in the series. We have Lymond growing into a real, caring fellow who uses his best intellectual gifts to save as many of his friends, including his 2? children, as possible. Very emotional ending. We now really like him. Dunnett creates the mystic, etheral characters, mostly women, who seem to keep circling into Lymond's life in unusual ways. Are they real? Are they spiritualists? Are they relatives? Are they really guiding his life? A neat little mystery that keeps y ...more
Tim
Jul 17, 2012 Tim rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Still not grasping it all, but there is a deeper appreciation for the skills of the author to tell you only so much as you need to know, while laying it all within the text (the connections, mysteries, hints) for the truly sharp reader to tease out.

This book takes it up a notch in describing both the Ottoman Empire, as well as some very sobering dilemmas that the principal character, Francis Crawford of Lymond, must make.
sarah
May 10, 2012 sarah rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Actually kept me up until 1 am one night reading compulsively and weeping uncontrollably. The best one so far, without a doubt. The final showdown in this was a bit implausible but it still basically smashed me in the face with emotion.

And I don't even know where to start with the perfection of Philippa Somerville.

This series is climbing pretty high on my "favorite reads of all time" list.
Hilary
Jun 25, 2011 Hilary rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a devastating book about impossible choices. I'm amazed that a writer in 1969 could write so directly about child prostitution, drug addiction and sexual politics -- all set largely in the Court of Sulieman the Magnificent in the 1550s. The historical detail is incredible. The human tangle is profound.

Lymond survives, just - but other characters including Graham Reid Mallet, Phillippa Somerville, Lymond's illegitimate half sister Marthe are incredibly vivid.
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Dorothy Dunnett fans: Pawn in Frankincense - clock question 10 100 Aug 23, 2016 04:52AM  
  • The Dorothy Dunnett Companion: Volume II
  • Off the Record
  • Untamed
  • The Reverse of the Medal (Aubrey/Maturin Book, #11)
  • The Heaven Tree Trilogy
  • Falls the Shadow  (Welsh Princes, #2)
  • The Bruce Trilogy: The Steps to the Empty Throne / The Path of the Hero King / The Price of the King's Peace (Robert the Bruce, #1-3)
  • Born of the Sun (Dark Ages of Britain, #2)
  • His Holy Bones (Rifter #10)
  • Turn (Turn!verse, #1)
  • The Vizard Mask
  • Earth and Sun, Cedar and Sage (Gideon and Jedediah, #2)
  • A Splendid Defiance
  • Within the Fetterlock
  • Someone You Might Have Been
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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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More about Dorothy Dunnett...

Other Books in the Series

The Lymond Chronicles (6 books)
  • The Game of Kings (The Lymond Chronicles, #1)
  • Queens' Play (The Lymond Chronicles, #2)
  • The Disorderly Knights (The Lymond Chronicles, #3)
  • The Ringed Castle (The Lymond Chronicles, #5)
  • Checkmate (The Lymond Chronicles, #6)

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“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.”
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“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.” 15 likes
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