Dorothy Dunnett Book Club discussion

Niccolo Rising > Chapter 1

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message 1: by [deleted user] (new)


message 2: by Judith (new)

Judith | 60 comments I really enjoyed the first chapter, getting the characters in my mind, watching their actions and reactions.


message 3: by [deleted user] (last edited Sep 02, 2018 04:59AM) (new)

Alright! First chapter is in the bag and this is what I got from it. If I missed something please correct me. I was fighting my children to go to bed, so I was having some problems. haha.

A tutor, an heir, and a simpleminded apprentice all get in a bath. It sounds like a bad joke. haha. just kidding. Three young men, Julius, Felix, and Claes get on a barge to take the Duke's bath down the canals of Burges to his home, and to get themselves home. Philip, Duke of Burgundy, also known as Philip the Good, is a big name back in the heyday, which you can already tell by the first few pages. At a lock they meet a pompous man named Simon, where they annoyingly upset the man due to status. Unfortunate circumstances arise and the lock opens without a man steering, which pulls the barge down the canal, crashing into another of the Duke's barges. This barge had an important gift, and it fell into the water. After the crash the men climb out of canal, where they were berated about the accident. Claes was accused of causing the accident, because of his lack of steering. In a flash, Claes was arrested after trying to do a good deed for the Lady who lost her hennin.

1. We met a lot of characters within this first chapter, who do you think is going to be the main antagonist? Have we even met him or her yet?
2. Fashion for women seems annoying. What do you think?
3. I have little hope in the justice system for the men. Do you think Julius could get them out of a bind?

message 4: by Renee (new)

Renee M | 346 comments Mod
My money was on Simon as antagonist. He’s such an insufferable bully in this chapter. Although unsure if he would be the main baddie. He’s no Graham Mallett.

Dunnett seems to be setting Julius up as a heroic type. He’s smart. He’s responsible. He’s a hottie. Of course, his name isn’t Nicholas. Or Niccolò. Or Dominic. As far as we know.

Felix just annoys me.

Claes is screwed. In fact they’re all probably screwed. I don’t think there was much justice for the little guys.

There were several fantastical pages in the World Book Encyclopedia that I just loved to ogle. They were covered with these beautiful illustrations of costume/dress through the ages. Mostly European, I think. But they were seriously cool to my wide blue eyes. I didn’t really think about the weight of some of those headdresses. Let alone the layers of garments. Or the discomfort of corsets. Or the lack of hygiene. Or lice.

I just liked the pretty pictures.

message 5: by SamuraiKitty (last edited Sep 01, 2018 10:07PM) (new)

SamuraiKitty | 155 comments I haven't started reading yet - I will start tomorrow. But as an aside - it was the fashion back then for women - besides wearing those outrageous wired and gauzed head gear things to pluck their hairline to give themselves a higher forehead, and to pluck their brows into non-existence - that was considered beauty back then. For those of you who have seen the Outlander series on TV - the actress who played Gellis (and I apologize that I can't remember her name) is what would have been considered a great beauty in the day and age this book is set in - (except for her eyebrows - they would have been plucked away). And this is the ONLY time I will ever mention Outlander on this site. :)

message 6: by Giki (last edited Sep 01, 2018 11:54PM) (new)

Giki | 272 comments Simon seems pretty unpleasant.
It looks like Claes is going to take most of the blame for the incident, Felix is too rich and Julius is to educated. Claes seems to accept this fairly calmly.
I googled the headdresses - they are those cones with ribbons coming from the top that pricesses wear in cartoons - I didn't think that they actually existed.

message 7: by [deleted user] (new)

I was wondering if the guy who Claes hurt is Niccolo. They never mentioned his name. Then I was thinking Julius somehow does the whole Mark of Zorro thing (the movie with Antonio Banderas and Catherine Zeta Jones) where there is an old Zorro and he trains a new Zorro. Maybe, Julius will be the new Niccolo since he hurt that dude. It is the perfect set up to rise to fame, get the girl, and beat the ugly Simon.

We can definitely tell the pecking order of Society in this chapter. I see no justice. I think you are right Giki.

Lol, I had to look up the headdresses too, and I laughed. I would be the peasant lady with the ugly dress and cap with dirt on my face. I am sure those outfits were beautiful, but probably annoying. A corset annoyed me in my wedding dress, I can’t imagine wearing it all the time. I didn’t think of weight of those headdresses. How much do you think they weighed? I’m a klutz too, surely I would of smacked my face. I forget that they didn’t care about hygiene as much as we do now. Gross. Parties must of smelled great. Teeth! That would make me vomit if I time traveled.

message 8: by Giki (new)

Giki | 272 comments I like your thinking Alex - If someones name is not immediatly offered (and we are not short on named charecters already) then it is probably vital to the story - you are getting the hang of this!!

message 9: by [deleted user] (new)

Giki wrote: "I like your thinking Alex - If someones name is not immediatly offered (and we are not short on named charecters already) then it is probably vital to the story - you are getting the hang of this!!"

Lol thank you. 😁🤣

message 10: by [deleted user] (new)

Was there anything describable about the mystery dude? Old, young, a noble, peasant? All I can think of at this moment is no one knew who he was

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