Sneaky characters, intrigue, love, betrayal, and dressing sheep in helmets to frighten off the English army

Cover of Gemini by Dorothy DunnettI’m always excited to read new books, whether it’s a debut or the latest in a series, but there’s something equally exciting about discovering a new favourite author who already has an extensive back catalogue.

I’m now halfway through Dorothy Dunnett‘s House of Niccolòopens a new window series with four to go, having finished her six-part Chronicles of Lymondopens a new window earlier this year. I’m not always a fan of book series, but these work so well both individually and as a unit that I can’t complain. Unfortunately some books are out of print, so the library may not have the full sequence, but each book stands alone — often taking place in different countries, but also building on the characters and relationships in a way that rewards faithful readers.

Both the House of Niccolò series and the Chronicles of Lymond are historical novels, with the House of Niccolò taking place from 1460 onwards and Lymond from 1547. While Niccolò Rising begins in Bruges, Belgium, and Lymond hails from Scotland, both protagonists travel widely over the course of their narratives.

I love being amused, surprised and betrayed by my books so these are definitely my cup of tea, with the bonus that I’m getting an education on various historical events that I’ve failed to learn or retain from school. Plus it will hopefully make me look intelligent and well-read when I go to Europe next year.

Yes, well spotted, my previous post about armchair travelopens a new window has inspired me to book a ticket to Italy. I’m looking forward to eating my way around the country and pretending I’m in Room With a Viewopens a new window or Enchanted Aprilopens a new window. After reading Disorderly Knights, third in Dunnett’s Lymond series, I have even added a jaunt to Malta. Reading is definitely dangerous to the budget! On the plus side I now know all about the Order of St John, Knights Hospitaller, unreliable protectors of Malta in 1551 and modern-day ambulance service. One mustn’t skimp on a good education.

Other great historical series:

Cadfael series by Ellis Peters in the library catalogueElizabeth Wein in the library catalogueGillian Bradshaw in the library catalogue

What are your favourite historical series?

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