Caprice and Rondo (The House of Niccolo, 7)
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With the bravura storytelling and pungent authenticity of detail she brought to her acclaimed Lymond Chronicles, Dorothy Dunnett, grande dame of the historical novel, presents The House of Niccolò series. The time is the 15th century, when intrepid merchants became the new knighthood of Europe. Among them, none is bolder or more cunning than Nicholas vander Poele of Bruges, the good-natured dyer's apprentice who schemes and swashbuckles his way to the helm of a mercantile empire.
Winter 1474 finds Nicholas exiled in the frozen port of Danzig, Poland. His Machiavellian exploits in Scotland have cost him friends and family--not to mention countless riches. As the ice melts, temptations arise. Will he assist the Muslim Prince Uzum Hasan against the Turks? Will he lose himself among the secret, scented gardens of the Crimea in the arms of a close friend's bride? As Nicholas pursues his future, his estranged wife, Gelis, seeks the truth about his past, only to discover the secret identity of his latest comrade in arms--a tantalizing ghost from the past poised to deal him the crowning death blow.
Shimmering with detail, alive with intrigue, Caprice and Rondo is Dorothy Dunnett's quicksilver evocation of a world where joy is fleeting, love is unexpected, and truth the rarest commodity of all.
from what she hinted, had been split. He did not know whether or not to be afraid, but forced himself not to misuse the pendulum, for Gelis had learned to tell when he was tracing her, and he did not want her to be troubled. Gelis, or anyone else. These people were nothing to do with him, now. He must not shackle them. And he had other things to think of soon enough, from the moment that the Khan’s secretary Karaï Mirza made his promised visit to Caffa. Nicholas was playing argumentative chess
pretend, but all the time …! The thumb-marks next day! It was all comfortable, coarse and not unfriendly: the feminine equivalent of the Bergenfahrers. A little flushed, Kathi collected her wits and replied as cheerfully and uninformatively as she could. Fortunately, there was no one else to be embarrassed: Robin was at the Town Hall, where the Council and Jury were receiving my lord Anselm Adorne and the Patriarch on the first full day of official meetings. The morning was wearing away before
‘I don’t want to believe it,’ she said. ‘You could say that, right enough. And I don’t trust that little popinjay, that’s another thing. But most of all, I must say, when Nicholas de Fleury manages to get himself killed, I think you’d ken by the bang, not the squeak.’ THE SAME RUMOUR reached Bruges, and was duly noted, if not necessarily believed, in the counting-houses, the mansions, the kitchens, the council-rooms and the cellars once haunted by Nicholas de Fleury. He had been gone for three
skill, and every stretch of the bank had its experts. Nicholas had observed that much at least, even though they hadn’t come the whole way, but had picked up the fleet in the middle, after four days’ hard riding from Danzig. Benecke did not say whether he owned the raft that he boarded, or the rye that he took from the granaries: he had a share very likely in both. The raft was one of the biggest; a marktschiff built like a box, with room for over a thousand bushels of grain and twenty men,
the first shot at least, which had to be taken, moving, on horseback. The mast was a hundred and twenty feet high, and the ball that topped it was much harder to hit than the papingo, which he had carried off with his crossbow so often at the St Sebastian meetings in Bruges. Then he had been shooting on foot; but he was a first-class horseman, with strong nerves and an accurate eye. He circled, once, twice, and then shot. Against the dark sky, the golden ball burst into bright flying fragments: