With the bravura storytelling and pungent authenticity of detail she brought to her acclaimed Lymond Chronicles, Dorothy Dunnett 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.
In 1462, Nicholas is a wealthy 21-year-old. His beloved wife has died. His stepchildren have locked him out of the family business. He and his private army are the target of multiple conspiracies. And both contenders for the throne of Cyprus, the brilliant Queen Carlotta and her charismatic, sexually ambivalent brother James, are demanding his support. Walking a tightrope of intrigue, Dunnett's hero juggles adversaries and allies, from the delectable courtesan Primaflora to the Mameluke commander Tzani-Bey al Ablak, a man of undiluted evil. Masterfully paced, alive with sensual delights, Race of Scorpions confirms Dorothy Dunnett as the grande dame of the genre.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
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|Title of eBook: Race of Scorpions||Series: The House of Niccolo, , #3|
|Release Date: 08-11-2010|
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|Parent title||Race of Scorpions|
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Race of Scorpions
Chapter OneThat November, God sent snow to north Italy, to the inconvenience of all who had to travel on horseback. The way between Porretta and Bologna became choked, and only the robust cared to use it. Among these was the friar Ludovico de Severi da Bologna who set out from Porretta one evening in a mood of ferocious good humour. The snow had brought him good luck. He had located the souls he was looking for.
The silly woman was there in Porretta, and about to ride north in the morning. The man, bless his heart, was on that identical road coming southwards, but storm-stayed in the hamlet of Silla. The two were certain to meet. The friar couldn't see how, happily, they could avoid one another. The woman (for a woman) was redoubtable. The man was a cheeky young profligate, and Carlotta would eat him for supper. Through the white gloom of dusk, Fra Ludovico plodded on mule-back to Silla, producing psalms from the caves in his chest so that clods fell from the trees and the tracks of hares melted the snowfields. He arrived late at Silla's one tavern, stabled his mule and his serving-man and was granted a mattress to sleep on. Rising early next morning, he took the squelched track to the latrines, broke the ice in the tub, and obtained punctual news of his quarry. 'He's in there,' volunteered one of the travellers. 'Big as a gallows-tree, and the age of my grandson. Niccol...