Reading this series was a difficult exercise. I picked it off a list: that of books with an average rating of more than 4.5 (out of 5) on Good reads. One review even compared it to the writing of Dorothy Dunnet: my favorite author.
The homoerotic scenes were a shock. I stopped and read the reviews again to check if I’d accidentally picked up the wrong series. And then remembered the hints about Lymond’s bisexuality in ‘Pawn in Frankincense’. This was the first time I was reading about homosexual seduction and sex in such detail and I rationalized that perhaps my reaction was prudish. But as I read further, it quickly became obvious that one of the aims of this series was to titillate: that was a let down. But perhaps rather than the author, I had myself to blame.
The story, stripped of the sexual tensions and explicit scenes would still be engaging - and half its current size.
Dorothy Dunnet’s influence on the author is very obvious: her principal character: Laurent, his personality, physique, traits, situation, mannerisms is Lymond. The writing style & story arc also mimic Dorothy Dunnet. This is most obvious in the action sequences and in the typical conversations: ones pregnant with pauses and hidden intent or where more is conveyed by what was left unsaid than by what was explicitly spoken.
There is even a chase over roof tops: during which one principal character starts to see a different side of another and begins to idolize him: this scene is obviously inspired from the steeple chase scene in the book: Queen’s Play.
The author does a very good job in some aspects: the reader is led to make assumptions about people which are then dashed by events and you realize that people are not who you think they are. There are far reaching implications of seemingly trivial actions and as even far as the end of the second book: the reader is presented with information that let you see events that began the story from a completely different perspective.
A well written series. But only if you enjoy or dont mind reading the very many homosexual scenes. As for the obvious influence of Dorothy Dunnet: I kept seeing them as “identical copies” and not so much as “inspired by” and so was unable to enjoy them as much as I did the original.