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Checkmate: Sixth in the Legendary Lymond Chronicles Paperback – September 2, 1997

4.9 out of 5 stars 71 customer reviews
Book 6 of 6 in the Lymond Chronicles Series

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Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

For the first time Dunnett's "Lymond Chronicles are available in the United States in quality paperback editions.
Sixth in the legendary "Lymond Chronicles, Checkmate takes place in 1557, where Francis Crawford of Lymond is once again in France, leading an army against England. But even as the Scots adventurer succeeds brilliantly on the battlefield, his haunted past becomes a subject of intense interest to forces on both sides.

About the Author

Dorothy Dunnett was born in 1923 in Dunfermline, Fife, Scotland. Her time at Gillespie's High School for Girls overlapped with that of the novelist Muriel Spark. From 1940-1955, she worked for the Civil Service as a press officer. In 1946, she married Alastair Dunnett, later editor of The Scotsman.

Dunnett started writing in the late 1950s. Her first novel, The Game of Kings, was published in the United States in 1961, and in the United Kingdom the year after. She published 22 books in total, including the six-part Lymond Chronicles and the eight-part Niccolo Series, and co-authored another volume with her husband. Also an accomplished professional portrait painter, Dunnett exhibited at the Royal Scottish Academy on many occasions and had portraits commissioned by a number of prominent public figures in Scotland.

She also led a busy life in public service, as a member of the Board of Trustees of the National Library of Scotland, a Trustee of the Scottish National War Memorial, and Director of the Edinburgh Book Festival. She served on numerous cultural committees, and was a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. In 1992 she was awarded the Office of the British Empire for services to literature. She died on November 9, 2001, at the age of 78.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 608 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reprint edition (September 2, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679777482
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679777489
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1.3 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (71 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #187,392 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on April 6, 1998
Format: Paperback
Let me preface my review by saying I am an avid reader and have read everything from physics texts to children's books and in all of my journeys I have never found anything equal to the genius of these novels. This last of the series, Checkmate, is the most painful to read, for in it all loose ends are at last tied and all farewells must be said. It is just as satisfying as the previous 5 novels and Dunnet's rendition of the history of the religious battle over the souls of England and France in the 16th century is both riveting and fascinating. Dunnett's skill in story-telling is unparalelled. Her characters are rich and engaging and their world is one in which nothing is as it seems, and where history finally seems real. Lymond is a hero of epic proportions; ambiguous, complex and never disappointing. His trademark wit is always refreshing as is his astounding intellect. These are characters who become part of one's daily thoughts and one is guaranteed to miss them when their story has ended. I reluctantly turned the last page of this book while bravely fighting away tears and plan on reading the series again quite soon because I, like others, often missed the nuances of Dunnett's spectacular plots and dense dialogue in order to move on. I really cannot say enough about these books. When one reaches the end of the journeys of Lymond, one can't help but feel as if one has lived through them oneself, from the Highlands of Scotland to the frozen and snowy grounds of Russia. By the last chapter, I couldn't help but feel that I had earned the right to call Lymond by his Christian name, Francis, as only those closest to him are permitted.Read more ›
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By A Customer on August 15, 1999
Format: Paperback
A chance recommendation by a friend introduced me to this series and all I can say is that I am grateful for that suggestion. I have rarely enjoyed a series so much or found myself so involved with the characters and their lives. This final book, Checkmate, left me in awe of Lady Dunnett, severely attached to Lymond and Phillipa, immensely pleased with the conclusion and resolution, and more than a little reluctant to agree with Dunnett that there could be no more written about Lymond. No one could finish reading the book without imagining what the future would bring to Lymond and Phillipa. The characters are much too engaging to be put aside with the book upon completion. They grow in front of you and they grow with you until you feel that you have played a part in their character development and not merely seen it happen in front of you. It's wonderful. Lady Dunnett reaches a hand out to each reader and allows him to enter some private corner of these characters' minds until he begins to understand what prompts the characters and to sympathize with them all the more.To anyone considering this book, do not read it without reading the first five books, in order, but definitely do not pass up this series. I could not put the book down. Lady Dunnett is the most skillfull author I know of to truly weave history into the story until the seams between truth and fancy do not show. I felt as though I were leading a double life, both in the present, and in that far away, yet familiar (thanks to Lady Dunnett) world of the Renaissance.This is a book worth reading, and then rereading several times over. It will become familiar, but never old.
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Format: Paperback
My Father used to get mad at me because I didn't hear anything while I was reading. "Gone With the Wind" when I was nine, "Lolita" when I was 10 (no, I didn't understand it!- I read it again later), "Henry the 8th", etc. and etc. I was addicted at an early age. But until I read the Lymond series I didn't realize the depth of my addication. The electricity went out one night so I read by flashlight. Philippa and Lymond made Scarlette and Rhett pale by comparison. Not to mention Dolores and Humbert Humbert. With DD's series I almost felt like a voyeur. When you read a book and at the end you feel as if you intimately know the characters, you can only praise the author that imagined them for your enjoyment (education?). Being an American living in France, understanding French did help deciphering the quotations: "Tant que je vive...As long as I live...". And "medianoche" was a mystery until recently when I found out that it's a meal eaten around midnight, thanks to Le Catalog des Musees. Yes, I can understand the readers that found the 1st book in the series a little (a lot) difficult. But I can only think: Too bad for you! You have missed out on a treasure. Please try again. You'll never find more complete characters - male/female, young/old, rich/poor, whatever! They still live inside my head and I am happy to share their world, a world I would have never known without DD's talent. I love to read history books now thanks to the author of the Lymond series. And I have never read such a touching love story (Scarlette and Rhett - get real!).
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Format: Paperback
These are absolutely wonderful books -- erudite, witty, beautifully written, magnificently characterized and wonderfully plotted.

They, and perhaps particularly this last installment, aren't going to be for everyone. Readers who dislike sentiment and who get bored with long expository passages won't find this is their favorite book. Even I, who love melodrama, found myself tempted at some points during CHECKMATE to shake the characters violently and yell, "Get over it!"

But it's gorgeous stuff nonetheless. Dunnett's whole six-book series is the story of one outstanding character, only rarely told from his point of view, and aided by a vivid supporting cast. She spares him few agonies (even if at times one feels he overreacts just a tad) and gives him great beauty and great talents. Writing in impeccable omniscient point of view, she captures the 1500's beautifully with only a tiny hint of an anachronism here and there. I recommend these books to readers who enjoy character-driven historical fiction with considerable action as well as considerable emotion.
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