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The Game of Kings (The Lymond Chronicles, #1) The Game of Kings by Dorothy Dunnett
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“I wish to God,” said Gideon with mild exasperation, “that you’d talk—just once—in prose like other people.”
Dorothy Dunnett, The Game of Kings
“Repressively, Lymond himself answered. “I dislike being discussed as if I were a disease. Nobody ‘got’ me,” he said.”
Dorothy Dunnett, The Game of Kings
“I despised men who accepted their fate. I shaped mine twenty times and had it broken twenty times in my hands.”
Dorothy Dunnett, The Game of Kings
“To the men exposed to his rule Lymond never appeared ill: he was never tired; he was never worried, or pained, or disappointed, or passionately angry. If he rested, he did so alone; if he slept, he took good care to sleep apart. “—I sometimes doubt if he’s human,” said Will, speaking his thought aloud. “It’s probably all done with wheels.”
Dorothy Dunnett, The Game of Kings
“Versatility is one of the few human traits which are universally intolerable. You may be good at Greek and good at painting and be popular. You may be good at Greek and good at sport, and be wildly popular. But try all three and you’re a mountebank. Nothing arouses suspicion quicker than genuine, all-round proficiency.”

Kate thought. “It needs an extra gift for human relationships, of course; but that can be developed. It’s got to be, because stultified talent is surely the ultimate crime against mankind. Tell your paragons to develop it: with all those gifts it’s only right they should have one hurdle to cross.”

“But that kind of thing needs co-operation from the other side,” said Lymond pleasantly. “No. Like Paris, they have three choices.” And he struck a gently derisive chord between each. “To be accomplished but ingratiating. To be accomplished but resented. Or to hide behind the more outré of their pursuits and be considered erratic but harmless.”
Dorothy Dunnett, The Game of Kings
“Kate viewed him suspiciously. “I don’t see why I should abandon my entertainment because of your conscience.”

“It isn’t quite conscience so much as horrified admiration,” said Lymond.”
Dorothy Dunnett, The Game of Kings
“If I can’t be personal, I don’t want to argue,” said his hostess categorically. “I may be missing your points, but you’re much too busy dodging mine.”
Dorothy Dunnett, The Game of Kings
“And habits are hell's own substitute for good intentions. Habits are the ruin of ambition, of initiative , of imagination. They're the curse of marriage and the after-bane of death.”
Dorothy Dunnett, The Game of Kings
“Oh, well. Everyone else has suave, cosmopolitan sheep: why not us? The Millers at Hepple have a ewe that’s been to Kelso three times, and they’ve never been farther than Ford in their lives.” Kate peered absently into the farm pond, and clucked again. “Thoughtless creatures. They’ve forgotten the fish.”
Dorothy Dunnett, The Game of Kings
“You choose to play God, and the Deity points out that the post is already adequately filled. During an outburst of besotted philanthropy he had redeemed Lymond, but Lymond quite simply was not prepared to be rescued; and least of all by his brother.”
Dorothy Dunnett, The Game of Kings
“Talk to me, Richard. It isn’t difficult. Move the teeth and agitate the tongue. Tell me news of the family. Am I superseded yet? Oh, Richard, a blush!”
Dorothy Dunnett, The Game of Kings
“I prize freedom of the mind above freedom of the body.”
Dorothy Dunnett, The Game of Kings
“So she was on her own, Kate thought, and instilled all the friendly helpfulness she could into her next question. “Excuse me, but are you the bad company young Mr. Scott has got into?”
Dorothy Dunnett, The Game of Kings
“Intentions, yours or anyone else's, don't matter; they never matter and never excuse.”
Dorothy Dunnett, The Game of Kings
“The darts which make me suffer are my own.”
Dorothy Dunnett, The Game of Kings
“Lymond surveyed the grinning audience with an air of gentle discovery. “Is there no work to be done? Or perhaps it’s a holiday?”
Dorothy Dunnett, The Game of Kings
“Nobody ever,” said the Dowager sorrowfully, “credits me with normal thought processes. When a mysterious man creates a royal scandal on the banks of the Lake of Menteith with the keenest ears in Scotland strolling utterly oblivious—by her own account—in the locality, I begin to wonder. I also wonder when a delicately reared child sends a court into fits with a riddle which I invented myself.”
Dorothy Dunnett, The Game of Kings
“But I despised men who accepted their fate. I shaped mine twenty times and had it broken twenty times in my hands.”
Dorothy Dunnett, The Game of Kings
“I don't like this war. I don't like the cold-blooded scheming at the beginning and the carnage at the end and the grumbling and the jealousies and the pettishness in the middle. I hate the lack of gallantry and grace; the self-seeking; the destruction of valuable people and things. I believe in danger and endeavor as a form of tempering but I reject it if this is the only shape it can take.”
Dorothy Dunnett, The Game of Kings
“The progress of Sybilla though a market was the progress of worker bee through a bower of intently propagating blossoms. Everything stuck. From the toy stall she bought two ivory dolls, a hen whistle, a rattle and a charming set of miniature bells for a child’s skirts: all were heroically received and borne by Tom, henceforth marked by a faint, distracted jingling. From the spice booth, set with delicious traps for the fat purse, she took cinnamon, figs, cumin seed and saffron, ginger, flower of gillyflower and crocus and—an afterthought—some brazil for dyeing her new wool. These were distributed between Christian and Tom. They listened to a balladmonger, paid him for all the verses of “When Tay’s Bank,” and bought a lengthy scroll containing a brand-new ballad which Tom Erskine read briefly and then discreetly lost. “No matter,” said the Dowager cheerfully, when told. “Dangerous quantity, music. Because it spouts sweet venom in their ears and makes their minds all effeminate, you know. We can’t have that.” He was never very sure whether she was laughing at him, but rather thought not. They pursued their course purposefully, and the Dowager bought a new set of playing cards, some thread, a boxful of ox feet, a quantity of silver lace and a pair of scissors. She was dissuaded from buying a channel stone, which Tom, no curling enthusiast, refused utterly to carry, and got a toothpick in its case instead. They watched acrobats, invested sixpence for an unconvincing mermaid and finally stumbled, flattened and hot, into a tavern, where Tom forcibly commandeered a private space for the two women and brought them refreshments. “Dear, dear,” said Lady Culter, seating herself among the mute sea of her parcels, like Arion among his fishes. “I’m afraid I’ve forgotten which are the squashy ones. Never mind. If we spread them out, they can’t take much hurt, I should think. Unless the ox feet … Oh. What a pity, Tom. But I’m sure it will clean off.”
Dorothy Dunnett, The Game of Kings
“Kate slid to her knees, pulling the child’s head to her breast, her mouth in its hair. “Pippa. Pippa, we’re awful fools. What Father means is that truly nothing we have ever done can harm us, and Mr. Crawford has mixed us up with someone else. But you know what unstable-looking parents you have. He doesn’t believe us, but he says he’ll believe you. It’s not very flattering,” said Kate, looking at her daughter with bright eyes, “but you seem to be the one in the family with an honest sort of face, and your father and I must just be thankful for it. Go over to him, darling. I’ll be behind you. And just speak,” she said with an edge like a razor. “Just speak as you would to the dog.”
Dorothy Dunnett, The Game of Kings
“I could see you drop dead this minute from paralysis of the brain cells and burst into uninhibited applause.”
Dorothy Dunnett, The Game of Kings
“It was a tragic and annihilating war, in which intellect fought naked with intellect, and the blows fell not upon the mind but upon the soul.”
Dorothy Dunnett, The Game of Kings
“Habits are the ruin of ambition, of initiative, of imagination.”
Dorothy Dunnett, The Game of Kings
“Subject to intelligence, nothing is incalculable.”
Dorothy Dunnett, The Game of Kings
“Violence in nature is one thing, but among civilized mankind, what excuse is there?”
Dorothy Dunnett, The Game of Kings
“Don’t you think you should retire again? The first retiral seems to have got mislaid.”
Dorothy Dunnett, The Game of Kings
“This time, after a moment, he called her bluff.

“Perhaps Philippa and I should be thrown together a little more. She might become attached to me if she knew me better.” Kate, brightening visibly, ignored the gleam in his eye.

“That would make her sorry for you?”

“It might. The object of any sort of clinical study deserves compassion, don’t you think?”

“Snakes don’t,” said Katherine inconsequently. “I hate snakes.”

“And yet you feed them on honey cakes and forbid them to defend themselves.”

“Defencelessness is not a noted characteristic of serpents. Anyhow, I can’t have them lying rattling about the house. It gets on the nerves.”

“It does if you handle it by rattling back.”
Dorothy Dunnett, The Game of Kings
“..when two friends discuss money, the third friend should invariably be asleep.”
Dorothy Dunnett, The Game of Kings
“Patriotism,” said Lymond, “like honesty is a luxury with a very high face value which is quickly pricing itself out of the spiritual market altogether.

[...] It is an emotion as well, and of course the emotion comes first. A child’s home and the ways of its life are sacrosanct, perfect, inviolate to the child. Add age; add security; add experience. In time we all admit our relatives and our neighbours, our fellow townsmen and even, perhaps, at last our fellow nationals to the threshold of tolerance. But the man living one inch beyond the boundary is an inveterate foe.

[...] Patriotism is a fine hothouse for maggots. It breeds intolerance; it forces a spindle-legged, spurious riot of colour.… A man of only moderate powers enjoys the special sanction of purpose, the sense of ceremony; the echo of mysterious, lost and royal things; a trace of the broad, plain childish virtues of myth and legend and ballad. He wants advancement—what simpler way is there? He’s tired of the little seasons and looks for movement and change and an edge of peril and excitement; he enjoys the flowering of small talents lost in the dry courses of daily life. For all these reasons, men at least once in their lives move the finger which will take them to battle for their country.…

“Patriotism,” said Lymond again. “It’s an opulent word, a mighty key to a royal Cloud-Cuckoo-Land. Patriotism; loyalty; a true conviction that of all the troubled and striving world, the soil of one’s fathers is noblest and best. A celestial competition for the best breed of man; a vehicle for shedding boredom and exercising surplus power or surplus talents or surplus money; an immature and bigoted intolerance which becomes the coin of barter in the markets of power—

[...] These are not patriots but martyrs, dying in cheerful self-interest as the Christians died in the pleasant conviction of grace, leaving their example by chance to brood beneath the water and rise, miraculously, to refresh the centuries. The cry is raised: Our land is glorious under the sun. I have a need to believe it, they say. It is a virtue to believe it; and therefore I shall wring from this unassuming clod a passion and a power and a selflessness that otherwise would be laid unquickened in the grave.

[...] “And who shall say they are wrong?” said Lymond. “There are those who will always cleave to the living country, and who with their uprooted imaginations might well make of it an instrument for good. Is it quite beyond us in this land? Is there no one will take up this priceless thing and say, Here is a nation, with such a soul; with such talents; with these failings and this native worth? In what fashion can this one people be brought to live in full vigour and serenity, and who, in their compassion and wisdom, will take it and lead it into the path?”
Dorothy Dunnett, The Game of Kings

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