Shannon's Reviews > Pawn in Frankincense

Pawn in Frankincense by Dorothy Dunnett
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Jan 18, 2011

it was amazing
bookshelves: favorites, historical-fiction
Read from July 19 to August 08, 2011

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 I actually told myself I had to be as strong as Philippa / Marthe, and I held my head up high with watery eyes and braved the five-minute walk without having to stop and cry. As soon as I was alone in the bathroom, the intense emotions took their toll.

What a beautiful book, though! Dorothy paints an exquisite background for us, as we go baby hunting all across the Mediterranean and end up within the gorgeous Topkapi Palace in Stamboul / Istanbul / Constantinople. It was such fun to imagine the city in all her splendor under the reign of Suleiman the Magnificent, with Rustem Pasha as the Grand Vizier.

We are in Jerott’s head for a lot of Pawn in Frankincense, and . . . Phillippa’s!! Phillippa comes along for the ride, and we love that don’t we? She is so identifiable, and she made the book fun with her letters back to Kate and her sweet, enduring innocence. Dorothy has created a handful of the strongest female characters that I have ever encountered in fiction, and Phillippa is our strong little pre-teen/teenager (who ends up proving herself beyond anything I would have imagined). For about a week I was convinced that I would name my first daughter Phillippa, but I’m starting to rethink that. It’s kind of a horses’ name, isn’t it?

Lymond has so many feelings! We never see them, but in this book we certainly do. I felt like I actually knew what was going on behind those cold beautiful blue eyes for awhile there. Oh my, and Marthe, and the poetry! Ohh, and this book is so gay! Much gayer than the last (some of it is only there if you notice it… not super obvious, but some of it is pretty blatant). And Phillippa in the Harem! Scandalous!

I was looking forward to witnessing an Oonagh-Lymond conversation in the first half of the book, and that was cruelly denied to me by Gabriel. We did pick up another badass female king-maker of sorts, though, which is Guzel / Kiaya Khatun. We also get Mikal, as one of my new favorite minor characters!

In conclusion: Lymond’s parent(s) were fucking around, what will Kate say when Phillippa comes home bahhhh, and will Marthe actually be kind to Jerott??
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Reading Progress

07/22/2011 page 93
19.0% ""You will see her" was what the Dame de Doubtance had said."
07/25/2011 page 174
36.0% "Assai sa, chi nulla sa, se tacer sa"
07/27/2011 page 256
53.0% "Have you not heard of the great new Pasha installed in Zuara? He is your dead man."
07/29/2011 page 315
65.0% "I love Dorothy's exquisite descriptions of Stamboul (istanbul/constantinople) and the topkapi palace. I feel like I'm back in Turkey."
08/02/2011 page 400
82.0% "He left behind him a menagerie of restless animals and a small twist of paper on the broken mosaic floor, which the under keeper picked up and kept. Untwisted, it also held the same word in English: Proceed."
08/03/2011 page 450
93.0% "Waited until I got to work to cry in the bathroom stall. I could barely hold it together on the bus. Dorothy can be so cruel."
09/25/2016 marked as: read

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