Gemini (The House of Niccolo, 8)
Scotland, 1477: Nicholas de Fleury, former banker and merchant, has re-appeared in the land that, four years earlier, he had brought very close to ruin in the course of an intense commercial and personal war with secret enemies--and, indeed, with his clever wife Gelis.
Now the opportunity for redemption is at hand, but Nicholas soon finds himself pursuing his objectives amid a complex, corrosive power struggle centering on the Scottish royal family but closely involving the powerful merchants of Edinburgh, the gentry, the clergy, the English (ever seeking an excuse to pounce on their neighbor to the north), the French, the Burgundians. His presence soon draws Gelis and their son Jodi to Scotland, as well as Nicholas's companions and subordinates in many a past endeavor--Dr. Tobias and his wife Clémence, Mick Crackbene, John le Grant, and Andro Wodman among them. Here, too, Nicholas meets again with others who have had an influence, for good or evil, in his life: King James III of Scotland and his rebellious siblings; the St. Pols: Jordan, Simon, and young Henry; Mistress Bel of Cuthilgurdy and David de Salmeton; Anselm Adorne and Kathi his niece. Caught up in, and sometimes molding, the course of great events, Nicholas exhibits by turns the fierce silence with which he masks his secrets, and the explosive, willful gaiety that binds men, women, and children to him. And as the secrets of his birth and heritage come to light, Nicholas has to decide whether he desires to establish a future in Scotland for himself and his family, and a home for his descendants.
Gemini brings to a dazzling conclusion Dorothy Dunnett's House of Niccolò series (synopsized in this volume), in which this peerless novelist has vividly re-created the dramatic, flamboyant world of the early Renaissance in historical writing of scrupulous authenticity and in the entrancing portrait of her visionary hero. Now, in a book infused with wit and poetry, emotion and humor, action and mystery, she brings Nicholas de Fleury at last to choose his heart's home, where he can exercise all his skills as an advisor to kings and statesmen, as a husband, a father, and a leader of men--and where, perhaps, we will discern a connection between him and that other remarkable personality, Francis Crawford, whose exploits Lady Dunnett recorded so memorably in The Lymond Chronicles.
had failed. Some business of valuable stud horses stolen, and hounds wantonly slaughtered?’ ‘I am afraid,’ Gelis said, ‘both were acts of a mischief-maker known to us all. No. If you wish my lord to join us, I have no objection.’ Colquhoun touched her and left. Avandale said, ‘Who was the mischief-maker? The gentleman we discussed?’ ‘Yes,’ said Gelis. ‘I see.’ The short, elegant Chancellor watched the door. ‘He is a formidable figure, Jordan de St Pol. I have seen men cringe before him.’
a baby! Jo-dee!’ Henry mewed the name like a kitten. ‘He wets the bed. He’ll make you his mammy. If you want a baby, I’ll give you one. You want a man. You don’t want a piddling baby with a goat for a father! Do you know that Nicholas de Fleury isn’t de Fleury at all? He’s a by-blow. No one knows who his father was. His mother was a tart and his wife is a worse one—did you know that she slept with my father? Do you know that half the cripple Berecrofts’s children were sired by Nicholas de Fleury,
could afford pepper,’ snapped the King’s brother over his shoulder. His entire face was as red as his rash. Where James’s hair hung in loose waves, John’s was crimped like a thunderstruck wedder. He spat at Nicholas. ‘You could afford pepper, couldn’t you, you obsequious brute? You weren’t smirking and making reverences this morning when you thought you had me alone with your bullies about you. I could have died.’ He turned to the chair of state, his voice rising. ‘I could have died!’
broached the subject herself. But Julius, being there, had found topics even more interesting. ‘So what about the stupid business at Lauder? I could have told you Tam Cochrane would go his own way. You should have been there. Someone said you had drawn up a blacklist of the killers. Do you want any assistance?’ Kathi looked at Bel, and Bel closed her eyes. Nicholas said, ‘I’ll tell you if I do. At the moment, we don’t want to antagonise anyone. Anyway, we don’t really know who they are.’ ‘I
reduced the silent struggle of twenty-five years to an obedient résumé. He had expected Julius to change. He had felt responsible for him, as a relative. He had tried to ensure that no one else would suffer, until it became apparent that this was no longer possible. The end had been difficult, and he didn’t find it easy to speak of, although he blamed himself for allowing Julius to act as he had. He apologised to Gelis for that; but not for his own reticence. It still hurt, that absence of the