Fifth in the legendary Lymond Chronicles, The Ringed Castle leaps from Mary Tudor's England to the barbaric Russia of Ivan the Terrible.
Francis Crawford of Lymond moves to Muscovy, where he becomes advisor and general to the half-mad Tsar. Yet even as Lymond tries to civilize a court that is still frozen in the attitudes of the Middle Ages, forces in England conspire to enlist this infinitely useful man in their own schemes.
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Fantastic, gripping story; narrator failed
I first read the Dorothy Dunnett books at 18 and have re-read them every few years since, devouring them every time, seeing new details and threads each time. It's a beautiful tapestry that spans all six Lymonds books and extends into the Niccolo series.Andrew Napier, however, fails to excite. Besides mispronouncing Lymond (should be 'Lie-mond', as Dunnett pronounces on her Desert Island Discs), it is clear that Napier has never come across some of the words in Dunnett's rich vocabulary and that no-one on the production crew bothered to correct his sloppy pronunciation. He pauses partway through sentences, sometimes where there is no punctuation and thus changes the meaning or impact of certain beautiful turns of phrases (e.g. in 'Queen's Play' he pronounces 'embassage' in a way that adds a monstrous stress to the second syllable). It grated on me, ruining what I had looked forward as a treat.
My favourite characters are Lymond and Jerrott - Lymond because he's Lymond, and Jerrott because he isn't. They are a wonderful contrast.
I'll listen to the Lymond books and I'd be loathe to listen to another Andrew Napier again.
- J. M. Sanson