Sweeping conclusion to the House of Niccolo series.
It's taken me over 6 months to read all 8 of these and although I'm going to miss these characters. I'm temped to reread the Lymond Chronicles to see where Dunnett got her Francis Crawford character. A descendant of Nicholo's? of Kathi's? This final book unties a lot of knots, and though it suggests answers to a lot of Nicholas's/Nicol's questions, doesn't end happily ever after for everyone. Dunnett reminds us that before the Renaissance and even during there were periods of plague and famine and war where life for most people tended to be nasty, brutish, and short! The art of Chivalry was part of the remedy though it too was vanishing. Brilliance is balanced by madness even in kings. Tragedy and pain are the background to joy and love. Statecraft, engineering, medicine, music, art, even war and politics and trade demanded the finest minds of the age and set Dunnett's characters tasks to spend a life on. This tutorial on late 15th century western civilization (exploration, politics, pursuit of power in the Isles, Europe, Scandinavia, Africa, the near East), geography, and art was delightful. The end maps, and dramatis personae were incredibly helpful as were her recaps of the previous books in the series at the head of each introduction. Even the cover art is deftly chosen. Definitely a series to reread some day! Dame Dunnett richly deserves her OBE.