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Caprice and Rondo (The House of Niccolo, Book 7) [Paperback]

Dorothy Dunnett
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)

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Book Description

May 29 1998 The House of Niccolo
January 1474, and Niccolo has been shunned by all who know him after revelations of his murderous mischief-making. But Niccolo's talents are too great to be squandered, and a subtle political dance ensues as rivals in Poland, Venice and Persia bid for his services in trade and war and diplomacy.

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From Booklist

This latest installment in Dunnett's House of Niccolo series finds her hero, Nicholas de Fleury, in exile in Poland, having given up his shares in his far-flung banking enterprise in the preceding book, To Lie with Lions (1996), and alienated his friends and family in pursuit of a private vendetta. As his next step, he embarks on a journey to Caffa, the Genoese colony in the Crimea, in the company of Anna, the beautiful and mysterious wife of the notary Julius. The three years the novel covers take him to Persia and Russia. In Persia, he accompanies the papal envoy to Tabriz to persuade the ruler to take arms against the Turks. In Moscow, where he is forced to flee after the Turks take Caffa, he becomes a favorite of a grand duchess and assists with the designs for a great cathedral. His journeys are ostensibly missions of trade and diplomacy, but the real reasons behind his travels are more complicated, involving mysteries from his past that are only gradually and partly revealed. Meanwhile, his estranged wife works with Nicholas' former partners in Bruges to rebuild the bank. Some threads of the ongoing saga are tied up, but plenty of loose ends remain for the next installment. As always, Dunnett's plot twists and her command of the period are mesmerizing, though it definitely helps to have read the previous books to sort through all the people and events. Despite her dense prose style, Dunnett is a writer who should appeal even to those who find most historical fiction superficial and unconvincing. Mary Ellen Quinn --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Kirkus Reviews

The seventh volume (To Lie with Lions, 1996; The Unicorn Hunt, 1994, etc,) chronicling the extraordinary adventures of Nicholas de Fleury, a Machiavellian 15th-century merchant who is, as this hefty installment opens, still locked in battle with greedy, incompetent kings, a shadowy rival trading empire, and his estranged wife, Gelis, one of a very few figures who have been a match for him in terms of wit, passion, and cunning. Since Nicholass efforts to outwit those trying to destroy his influence have made much of Western Europe too hot for him, he turns eastward, toward Russia and the yet more mysterious lands beyond. Dunnett continues to demonstrate a distinctive ability to evoke not just the sights and sounds of the early Renaissance but, more importantly, its mindset; her characters are far more often moved by questions of respect, family (a particularly touchy subject for the mysterious Nicholas), and power than by more mundane emotional upheavals. By novels end, de Fleury, an engaging mix of ruthlessness and honor, seems closer to winning Gelis back, has helped preserve yet another kingdom, and has, for the time being, once more outflanked his foes. Those devoted to this unique series will be relieved to hear that it has not yet reached its conclusion. -- Copyright ©1998, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
By Jennifer Cameron-Smith TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
January 1474 finds Nicholas de Fleury in Danzig. There are consequences from his vengeance in Scotland and Nicholas is in hiding. But Nicholas is not the only person at risk, and his need to protect those he feels responsible for including his estranged wife Gelis, their son Jodi, and many of his friends and associates, means that he is soon on the move. There is also a possibility that he may be able to recover the gold which was stolen from him in Cyprus.

Nicholas de Fleury is a fascinating and complex hero, and fifteenth century Europe provides a fascinating historical and cultural backdrop for his endeavours and adventures. While some of the action takes place in Western Europe, Nicholas travels to Russia and beyond. But then he returns, to face all manner of truths.

Three things make this series special for me: the larger than life character of Nicholas de Fleury himself; the way the fictional characters are inserted into history; and the way that the history itself comes to life off the pages.

This is the seventh volume in the House of Niccolo series, and to appreciate the series they really need to be read (and for some of us, re-read) in order. I'm writing this review having just concluded my fourth re-read of the book. Why? Because each reading has so far provided me with new insights and possibilities. Ms Dunnett's novels are like that: complex, sparkling and full of possibility. I'm looking forward to my re-read of Gemini, the final book in the series.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith
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5.0 out of 5 stars Finally Some Explanations Aug. 31 2001
Format:Paperback
This the seventh book in the Niccolo series does offer some explanations of Nicholas's early life and gives some reasons as to why he did the things that he did. Brilliant Nicholas has been exciled to Poland. He tries to forget all of his previous life and become a devil-may-care pirate, but his history keeps coming in to interfere, and he has to resume his life in order to protect those that are dearest to him. In this book we contine to see the beautiful Anna, Julius's wife, and without giving the story away she is certainly not what she seems.
We also see Nicholas and Gelis get back together at the end of the story. That is indeed a happy occasion, but it puzzles me where Katalejne fits into this. We don't see much of her in this story, and that is a great loss since I for one feel that she is by far the superior heroine in this series.
I can't wait to read the last book in the series. Perhaps then things will all make sense. I found that there were some similarities between this series and the Lymond series, and that disappoints a bit, since the Lymond series is so superior. But this is still a good series and it's well worth the time spent to read it. I recommend reading all the books in the series in the order that they written.
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4.0 out of 5 stars The Niccolo Series begins to draw to a conclusion Nov. 16 2000
Format:Paperback
The seventh of Dorothy Dunnett's eight book House of Niccolo series is Caprice and Rondo. The Niccolo books have never engaged me quite as thoroughly as her earlier series The Lymond Chronicles did. Those are among my very favorite historical novels ever. The Niccolo novels are good, but I have tended to find them a bit harder to follow. However, in the particular case of Caprice and Rondo, I was able to follow the action quite readily. Perhaps as the series comes to a conclusion the answers to the many mysteries are becoming clear.
This book opens with Nicholas in Poland. He's been kicked out of his company and exiled from Scotland and the Netherlands as a result of his actions in the last book. (This is another reason the Niccolo books are a bit harder to like: Nicholas does some pretty clearly bad stuff. Whenever Lymond seemed to be up to something bad, it turned out he was being misunderstood.) In Poland he spends a winter womanizing and drinking with the pirate Pauel Benecke, who wants him to join in a pirate mission the following summer. But Anselm Adorne, the upright burgomaster from Bruges who misunderstands Nicholas pretty comprehensively, and who stands in a role vaguely similar to Lymond's brother Richard Crawford in the Lymond books: a good man who tends to regard the hero as an enemy because he doesn't understand him, shows up on a mission to try to recover damages from an earlier piracy committed by Benecke. Also, Adorne and the Patriarch of Antioch, Ludovico da Bologna, intend to head to Tabriz to negotiate with the Persian Uzum Hasan for support against the Turks. (So far, every character I have mentioned except Nicholas is an actual historical character.
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