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Caprice and Rondo: The Seventh Book in the House of Niccolo (House of Niccolo/Dorothy Dunnett) Hardcover – May 19, 1998

4.7 out of 5 stars 31 customer reviews
Book 7 of 8 in the House of Niccolo Series

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

This latest installment in Dunnett's House of Niccolo series finds her hero, Nicholas de Fleury, in exile in Poland, having given up his shares in his far-flung banking enterprise in the preceding book, To Lie with Lions (1996), and alienated his friends and family in pursuit of a private vendetta. As his next step, he embarks on a journey to Caffa, the Genoese colony in the Crimea, in the company of Anna, the beautiful and mysterious wife of the notary Julius. The three years the novel covers take him to Persia and Russia. In Persia, he accompanies the papal envoy to Tabriz to persuade the ruler to take arms against the Turks. In Moscow, where he is forced to flee after the Turks take Caffa, he becomes a favorite of a grand duchess and assists with the designs for a great cathedral. His journeys are ostensibly missions of trade and diplomacy, but the real reasons behind his travels are more complicated, involving mysteries from his past that are only gradually and partly revealed. Meanwhile, his estranged wife works with Nicholas' former partners in Bruges to rebuild the bank. Some threads of the ongoing saga are tied up, but plenty of loose ends remain for the next installment. As always, Dunnett's plot twists and her command of the period are mesmerizing, though it definitely helps to have read the previous books to sort through all the people and events. Despite her dense prose style, Dunnett is a writer who should appeal even to those who find most historical fiction superficial and unconvincing. Mary Ellen Quinn

From Kirkus Reviews

The seventh volume (To Lie with Lions, 1996; The Unicorn Hunt, 1994, etc,) chronicling the extraordinary adventures of Nicholas de Fleury, a Machiavellian 15th-century merchant who is, as this hefty installment opens, still locked in battle with greedy, incompetent kings, a shadowy rival trading empire, and his estranged wife, Gelis, one of a very few figures who have been a match for him in terms of wit, passion, and cunning. Since Nicholass efforts to outwit those trying to destroy his influence have made much of Western Europe too hot for him, he turns eastward, toward Russia and the yet more mysterious lands beyond. Dunnett continues to demonstrate a distinctive ability to evoke not just the sights and sounds of the early Renaissance but, more importantly, its mindset; her characters are far more often moved by questions of respect, family (a particularly touchy subject for the mysterious Nicholas), and power than by more mundane emotional upheavals. By novels end, de Fleury, an engaging mix of ruthlessness and honor, seems closer to winning Gelis back, has helped preserve yet another kingdom, and has, for the time being, once more outflanked his foes. Those devoted to this unique series will be relieved to hear that it has not yet reached its conclusion. -- Copyright ©1998, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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Product Details

  • Series: House of Niccolo/Dorothy Dunnett
  • Hardcover: 539 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf (May 19, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679454772
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679454779
  • Product Dimensions: 1.8 x 6.8 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,595,440 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Richard R. Horton on November 16, 2000
Format: Paperback
The seventh of Dorothy Dunnett's eight book House of Niccolo series is Caprice and Rondo. The Niccolo books have never engaged me quite as thoroughly as her earlier series The Lymond Chronicles did. Those are among my very favorite historical novels ever. The Niccolo novels are good, but I have tended to find them a bit harder to follow. However, in the particular case of Caprice and Rondo, I was able to follow the action quite readily. Perhaps as the series comes to a conclusion the answers to the many mysteries are becoming clear.
This book opens with Nicholas in Poland. He's been kicked out of his company and exiled from Scotland and the Netherlands as a result of his actions in the last book. (This is another reason the Niccolo books are a bit harder to like: Nicholas does some pretty clearly bad stuff. Whenever Lymond seemed to be up to something bad, it turned out he was being misunderstood.) In Poland he spends a winter womanizing and drinking with the pirate Pauel Benecke, who wants him to join in a pirate mission the following summer. But Anselm Adorne, the upright burgomaster from Bruges who misunderstands Nicholas pretty comprehensively, and who stands in a role vaguely similar to Lymond's brother Richard Crawford in the Lymond books: a good man who tends to regard the hero as an enemy because he doesn't understand him, shows up on a mission to try to recover damages from an earlier piracy committed by Benecke. Also, Adorne and the Patriarch of Antioch, Ludovico da Bologna, intend to head to Tabriz to negotiate with the Persian Uzum Hasan for support against the Turks. (So far, every character I have mentioned except Nicholas is an actual historical character.
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By A Customer on February 9, 2000
Format: Paperback
Caprice was everything I expected from Dorothy Dunnet, and I expect a lot. Great atmosphere, great story. But warning, don't start with this book. Read others in the series first. Like all the Niccolo and Lymond books, Caprice is beautifully researched and difficult to follow in the beginning pages. There are dozens of characters, most witty, and they often read each other's minds. Even minor players have large roles, so that following their conversations--and indeed who's talking--takes some getting used to. But there's a reward. Soon, you catch on and and it's a joy. Dunnet's ellipses let you participate much more than a simpler presentation that gives every character's every thought to you straight up. These people become your own family, friends, acquaintances and enemies. Unlike another reviewer, I found the characters exquisite, but then I know them from several prior books. It really helps to read the first book, Niccolo Rising, if not the ones between, to understand Nicolas and sympathize with him. And I doubt Gelis, Nicolas'wife, or her actions would have any meaning at all to readers who had not sufferred through her betrayal in earlier books. But it's still a great story. This edition does have a nice list of characters and summary of the plots from previous books, which are very welcome.
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Format: Hardcover
In this 7th volume in Dunnett's intricate, superb historical series, protagonist Nicholas de Fleury is bent upon an aimless, self-destructive existence, matching pirate Paul Benecke drink for drink and woman for woman after being exiled from Scotland for plotting to destroy the country. But Nicholas' natural curiosity and intelligence are soon rekindled by a visit from his former mentor, Julius and Julius' beautiful, mysterious wife, Anna. Nicholas is lured on an adventure which will take him to the courts of Russia while he searches for the gold which was stolen from his in Cyprus. As usual, Dunnett has deftly woven a fascinating tapestry of history,culture and character. In Nicholas, Dunnett has created a complex, infinitely fascinating hero; a man capable of creating brilliant works of art but also capable of acts of astonishing cruelty. Nicholas' contradictory nature was shaped by his tragic childhood which is revealed when Nicholas' wife, Gelis, embarks on a mission to find the truth about his disputed parentage. Is Simon St. Pol really Nicholas's father or was his mother unfaithful as Simon has always claimed? Gelis hopes to understand what drives Nicholas in his relentless manipulation of people and events. Few authors have ever achieved the mastery of plot and character that Dunnett has developed. Her historical novels demand a level of commitment far greater than the average bestseller. But the reader is rewarded with a sophisticated, absorbing drama that becomes addictive.
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Format: Hardcover
It becomes increasingly clear in this, the seventh novel about Niccolo, that the focus of this whole saga shows deep interrelation with the author's earlier "lymond" series. In fact, Lymond's mother, Sybilla Semple, is clearly a 'St. Pol' and shares the same coloring as both Niccolo's father, Simon and Niccolo's elder son, Henry. If this all sounds as though the author, Dorothy Dunnett, can weave her spell around you-it's true. Her world is so vividly realized, yet the basic 'detective' element at the core of it (not for nothing has Dunnett also written some first-rate thrillers) will keep you on the edge of your seat, waiting for the next installment. Fabulous in every way; a little melodramatic in spots, but meticulously researched.
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