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 Post subject: DUNNETT: PiF: Ch. 23: Constantinople: The House of Gaultier
PostPosted: Thu Mar 23, 2017 1:25 am 
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Pawn in Frankincense
by Dorothy Dunnett

© 1966 - © 1994

Chapter 23: Constantinople: the House of Gaultier

Another Lymond-less chapter, with more than enough of the Jerott-Marthe duo for me! Those crazy kids, are they ever going to get it right? But we get a bit of Philippa, and explanations of some earlier mysteries. Told mostly from Jerott's POV.

Jerott pays a call on Gaultier's house, but finds nobody around but a rather simple old woman servant. Marthe eventually appears, quite dirty, and makes excuses for everyone's absence. Jerott refuses to be put off, telling her he's not there on a mission for Lymond, but on his own.
Quote:
‘You know now what Graham Reid Malett is. Neither he nor Francis will rest until one or the other is killed: that is their own affair and not yours. But before that can happen, the children have to be saved. One of them is already half destroyed and the other in the harem has begun to suffer as well. Gabriel is now in complete power, and has arranged to make the Somerville girl his own.’

He wants Marthe to go to Topkapi to fix the spinet, with information for Philippa about an escape plan. When Marthe scoffs, Jerott says,
Quote:
‘It isn’t for Lymond, or for me. It’s for Philippa and the children. You have every excuse to enter Topkapi and no risk to run. In a matter of days after that we shall be all gone except Francis, and whatever the outcome of that, you’ll be left in peace.’

She still refuses. Tired of her stalling tactics, Jerott forces her at knife-point to show him what they are doing. Marthe grudgingly consents to show him the way, since she has no choice with his Janissary waiting outside. He reminds her of the poem she quoted earlier. ‘Where are you going, pretty fair maid, with your white face and your yellow hair?’ which continues, ‘I am going to the well, sweet sir, she said; for strawberry leaves make maidens fair.’ Lymond had understood it immediately. Sure enough, a trap door leads down a ladder into a vast underground cistern that extends beyond sight.
Quote:
He stood in a limnophilous palace of marble whose faint columns, rank upon rank, marked the darkness like runes and upheld, with their ghostly carved capitals, the winged vaults of the ceilings which spread, mottled with moisture, far over his head. Its carpet was water: water which ran green and icy and clear under his feet and licked and floated and sucked at the white marble pillars in their dim and motionless rows: a forest rooted in foam.

Cistern photo #1, as Jerott might have seen it:
Image
#2, as it might look today:
Image

A very interesting blog about exploring the underground world of Istanbul: http://www.thebohemianblog.com/2015/10/ ... anbul.html

On the way, Marthe explains that she and Gaultier had heard of some extremely important notes Pierre Gilles had lost, which held the key to an amazing discovery, among other things. This journey with a French Emissary was the perfect cover for their search. They had been pursuing a hot lead on them ever since Algiers, and finally obtained them in Aleppo (that's why she got Jerott drunk at the tekke -- so she could meet with the seller.) They forced Gilles to help them if he wants his papers back (that's why Gilles and Marthe were arguing, and why he's going along with them.)

After a journey by boat and then through a maze of tunnels, Marthe and Jerott meet with Gilles, who explains he has found what they were seeking: a treasure room full of the stolen relics of the church of St. Sophia. A discussion ensues on the ethics and possible political impact of freeing these religious treasures into the world. Marthe defends her intention to profit greatly from their sale:
Quote:
Marthe: 'These must be sold, but with my share of what they will bring I can become a person. For the first time a human being with a life of my own; a home and friends and possessions, and work I may follow in peace and become namely for …’
Jerott said, ‘You speak like an embittered old man. Where are your children?’
She looked at him, her eyes full of anger and unshed tears of self-pity. ‘Where they will stay, my drunken monk,’ she said harshly. ‘They are not yours to speak for.’

After returning to the house, Jerott tells Marthe, 'You will take your brother’s message to Philippa Somerville, and you will deliver it, correctly and fully, under guise of repairing the spinet. or I shall bring the Janissary into the house.

Sound clip: Body, mind, or soul? http://www.srkpagali1.net/images/PIF23- ... d-soul.mp3

The next day, Marthe goes to Topkapi to repair the spinet. As the only spinet player available, Philippa is brought to help; under cover of the repair process, she is given the information she needs about escape. Philippa is close to tears with joy at seeing a member of the original band of travellers, but Marthe is sullen and angry, telling Philippa that she is only here because she was forced to come. When Marthe is finished, she sets off to leave Topkapi, but is blocked by a group of silent robed figures.

"Marthe was in the hands of the mutes."

-------------------------------------------------------

Questions:

1. How does Jerott know about GRM's plans to make Philippa his own? (Hepzibah was dead before GRM met with Philippa...) Some contact of Mikal's?

2. What's your opinion about the ethics of profiting from the holy relics in the treasure room? What does each of the treasure hunters really want from their find? Wealth? Fame? Prestige? Freedom? All of these?

3. Why have the Mutes not allowed Marthe to leave?

_________________
Mary

“...I prize freedom of the mind above freedom of the body. I claim the right to make my own mistakes and keep quiet about them. ... My life is at your disposal, but not my thoughts.”
Francis Crawford, in Dorothy Dunnett's Game of Kings


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 Post subject: Re: DUNNETT: PiF: Ch. 23: Constantinople: The House of Gault
PostPosted: Thu Mar 23, 2017 11:15 am 
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Thank you, pagali, for a superb summary of an important but unpleasant chapter. :clap: :clap:

At least I found it unpleasant, which is rare in all of Dunnett's works. I had to force myself to reread it, and I'm glad I did because there are some important facts revealed in it.

But I'm with you--I am getting fed up with The Bickersons. Enough already! Dunnett is in the process of unwinding a thoroughly unappealing character right before our eyes (Marthe), and that's risky because at some point readers will utter a collective sigh of "good grief, not her again!"every time she appears. Contrast her behavior to Philippa's and her bad character is even more stark.

Jerott, bless him, gets the last word (at last) with that remarkable audio clip you included. Touche, my dear! Maybe, just maybe, he's getting over the Miserable Marthe?

I'll take a shot at this question:
1. How does Jerott know about GRM's plans to make Philippa his own? (Hepzibah was dead before GRM met with Philippa...) Some contact of Mikal's?

Even though Philippa didn't know GRM's plans for her until the previous day, others probably did, and Hepsibah could have overheard them and reported them to Lymond/Jerott/Mikal. Hepsibah seemed to have had pretty good access to many parts of and people in the seraglio and she is being paid for the gossip and news she can supply.

I don't think we have any reason to believe Mikal has contacts inside the seraglio, do we? He does have a good network of informers, so it could be that he and not Hepsibah learned of GRM's plan.

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 Post subject: Re: DUNNETT: PiF: Ch. 23: Constantinople: The House of Gault
PostPosted: Thu Mar 23, 2017 12:15 pm 
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Wow - this chapter took us in a different direction (literally!). Thanks for the pictures pagali; I had imagined something very different--small and claustrophobic--so that was a great help. (I also recognised your pictures as the scene for the finale in the movie Inferno, which I watched only last week.) I could not visualise the wall of ice, though. I kept wondering if these tunnels will be an escape route for Philippa and Kuzum, but surely GRM must know about them, as he knows everything. :worry:

I'm glad that Jerott seems to be getting over Marthe. I wonder why he keeps saying "your brother" - is he trying to make Marthe like Lymond? Or force her to do something out of a sense of family duty?

Zitwitz has told Marthe that Lymond has run out of funds - why does he tell Marthe and not Jerott? Presumably Lymond can sell the diamonds that Roxelane refused to keep himself going a bit longer.

Regarding Marthe profiting from the treasure, that's just typical of her "Marthe first" attitude. I can't imagine how they will get such large objects out of their hiding place unseen, and be able to sell them without some repercussions, but that is Marthe's problem, because all we care about is the welfare of Lymond, Philippa and the two boys. However, if Marthe knows about a great hidden treasure in 'Stamboul then surely GRM does too, given that he knew of Marthe's existence before Lymond did? :worry:

Even though I don't like Marthe, I am scared for her being in the hands of the mutes. Is this another ploy be GRM? :worry: Is nobody safe in this city? :worry: :worry:


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 Post subject: Re: DUNNETT: PiF: Ch. 23: Constantinople: The House of Gault
PostPosted: Thu Mar 23, 2017 5:51 pm 
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Thank you, pagali, for a fine summary of this vexing chapter and the photos and links. Marthe certainly seems to be nothing but cold and mercenary. Jerott's rough handling of Marthe including the slap shows his darker side as well and that she has pushed him to his limits.

More heartbreaking lines about those children:"One of them is half destroyed and the other in the harem has begun to suffer as well"(378). Really they both have suffered since birth, but Kuzum until know has not had it as bad as Khaireddin. Jerott noted Lymond's reaction to the little boy in his company whom he cannot yet help: "I am good! had cried the small frantic voice. And Lymond had taken away his hand, holding back every impulse; and had answered him gently, his voice level and schooled"(379). Talk about a super human effort!!


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 Post subject: Re: DUNNETT: PiF: Ch. 23: Constantinople: The House of Gault
PostPosted: Fri Mar 24, 2017 8:07 pm 
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Pagali, absolutely spectacular photos and you have chosen my favorite line in the chapter. I had to pause with those words from Jerott.

Wonderful summary. Thank you.

Clewless wrote:
Maybe, just maybe, he's getting over the Miserable Marthe?
It could be worse. She might actually start to like him.
pagali wrote:
What's your opinion about the ethics of profiting from the holy relics in the treasure room? What does each of the treasure hunters really want from their find? Wealth? Fame? Prestige? Freedom? All of these?
Marthe and GG know this is "knavery." It is wrong to profit from another culture's belongings. They may want something but whatever it is, there will be some comeuppance. Unlike the accomplishments that Marthe envies, she will still have noting of her own. Whatever she obtains is not an accomplishment she can boast about. It wasn't done honestly, so it is far from an accomplishment, imo. As KKhatun once remarked, Marthe seems to look in the wrong places for love, and she is again looking in the wrong places to further herself. Marthe, through all her schooling, could have been more positive instead of being bitter all her life. But we don't know much about her other than what she said about herself. I'd like more of a backstory on her.

DLT wrote:
Even though I don't like Marthe, I am scared for her being in the hands of the mutes. Is this another ploy be GRM? Is nobody safe in this city?
The mutes certainly seem like henchmen for whoever is in charge. (Wasn't it the mutes that killed Mustafa while S watched?)
It stands to reason that GRM expected that Lymond would get another and another way to get messages to Philippa. He is aware of all the connections. Lymond is sending Marthe in probably knowing that Marthe will be in danger. I'm thinking he hopes/believes the instructions will help all of them to exit. This is getting very complicated.

As long as GRM is alive no one is safe.

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--Game of Kings


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 Post subject: Re: DUNNETT: PiF: Ch. 23: Constantinople: The House of Gault
PostPosted: Sat Mar 25, 2017 12:33 am 
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Thank you for the great summary and images, Pagali.

I had to read this chapter twice in order to follow what is happening underneath the house. The visuals really help the reader to navigate the underground world that Gaultier and Marthe have been seeking. They have literally stooped very low. :D

Like DLT I wondered why Oz was sharing information about Lymond's finances with Marthe. Why is he stirring trouble?

The hidden treasure was a surprise but the pieces of the puzzle are finally coming together. Marthe and Gaultier are clearly stealing and causing more unrest by taking what is not theirs. As Giles says "But there is one consideration, outside all tuum and meum. In this war which you as a Knight of St. John have fought, between Christian and Moslem: what could be inflaming -- what could turn a game of conquest into a game of implacable hated -- sooner than this, the theft from Suleiman's capital of perhaps its greatest treasure, and that proudly displayed and celebrated in Rome? Then the hordes surely would descend, and who would protect us" (p. 388 Vintage pb)?

Giles is happy to have his notes and lost manuscript. His quest for knowledge is greater than that his desire for wealth. "I have again the notes I looked on as lost, and the manuscript I grieved for: I may return now and begin on my book. It is the girl and her uncle who will suffer. I have lost only my vanity" (p. 389). There is a sense of foreboding here. Gaultier and Marthe are knowingly setting off a time bomb that will ignite as soon as these goods resurface in Italy, or elsewhere.

The earlier reference to the preparation of sherbet is noted again in this chapter, where we learn the underground caverns are used as storehouses for snow and keep the Suleiman's sherbet cool. The mention of the use of straw by the vizier made me think of Oonagh. :(

Bravo to Jerott for standing his ground and delivering both a slap and cutting words to Marthe. Finally! :clap: She is so desperate to gain social status she doesn't care who she throttles in the process. "These must be sold, but with my share, of what they will bring I can become a person. For the first time a human being with a life of my own; a home and friends and possessions, and work I may follow in peace . . . (p. 389). This treasure is her pipeline to a respectable life. She is willing to take a great risk for her freedom.

It really is sad how Marthe has become embittered and despicable. Perhaps her reluctant visit to the seraglio will redeem her in the eyes of Jerott and her brother. I still have hope that she will amend her ways, or at least learn to become human without causing so much strife to others in the process.

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 Post subject: Re: DUNNETT: PiF: Ch. 23: Constantinople: The House of Gault
PostPosted: Sat Mar 25, 2017 3:57 am 
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Not much time to post this week but I'm keeping up with the reading at least. Now that Lymond and Jerott have met, Lymond has probably told him about GRM'S plans for Philippa. But how does GRM know about Marthe and her relationship to Lymond? I can't think of any known contact for that - GRM didn't know about Marthe at the outset because Lymond didn't know, and they didn't discuss it in the water fight or in Topkapi. So it's either KK or the spy in Lymond's camp? A meeting between KK and Marthe would be interesting ...

I love the photos of the cisterns. They remain one of my favourite tourism discoveries ever ... descending the stairs from overwhelming traffic, grime and heat in Sultanameht into the peace and beauty of the cisterns .. well, I was probably more stunned than Jerott! Watching 'Inferno' bought back many memories. The acoustics would be outstanding for a concert .. added to the bucket list.


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 Post subject: Re: DUNNETT: PiF: Ch. 23: Constantinople: The House of Gault
PostPosted: Sat Mar 25, 2017 6:49 am 
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NigheanDubh wrote:
The mutes certainly seem like henchmen for whoever is in charge. (Wasn't it the mutes that killed Mustafa while S watched?)
It stands to reason that GRM expected that Lymond would get another and another way to get messages to Philippa. He is aware of all the connections. Lymond is sending Marthe in probably knowing that Marthe will be in danger. I'm thinking he hopes/believes the instructions will help all of them to exit. This is getting very complicated.


Yes, the mutes are the executioners (the mutes with the bowstring).

I am not at all sure Lymond knows that Jerott is sending Marthe into the seraglio because of this statement early in the chapter:
Quote:
That he [Jerott] was here [at the house of Gaultier] at all was unknown to Lymond.

Jerott is staying at the French embassy and Lymond wanted him to stay away from Mikal's house, the House of the Nightingale, and Lymond himself so as not to draw attention to them. That doesn't mean there isn't communication between Lymond and Jerott, of course, so this could be Lymond's plan to send Marthe in. We just don't know for sure.

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 Post subject: Re: DUNNETT: PiF: Ch. 23: Constantinople: The House of Gault
PostPosted: Sat Mar 25, 2017 1:54 pm 
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kiwijo wrote:
But how does GRM know about Marthe and her relationship to Lymond? I can't think of any known contact for that - GRM didn't know about Marthe at the outset because Lymond didn't know, and they didn't discuss it in the water fight or in Topkapi. So it's either KK or the spy in Lymond's camp? A meeting between KK and Marthe would be interesting ...


Really good questions, kiwijo. I'm thinking that Jerott, as GRM's spy in QP, was already scouting Lymond. Wasn't Jerott following Lymond? (We discover this in TDK) I think it was then, in Queens' Play, that GRM was accumulating information. At the time, since he didn't expect such opposition from Lymond, it may have been for more innocuous reasons (which is doubtful because there isn't an innocuous bone in GRM's body). GRM must have had other spies. My hunch is that he was looking to discover all he could about this potential postulant for the Order of Malta. In the beginning of TDK, Lymond is approached about becoming a knight and on the heals of Will's wedding Lymond goes to France, and if I've understood it correctly, returns to to join the Knights salvage the order in Malta and Northern Africa (as a manner of penance for his/Thady Boy's decadent behavior in France.) Does that make any sense? I'm trying to sort it out, so bear with me. :read:

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 Post subject: Re: DUNNETT: PiF: Ch. 23: Constantinople: The House of Gault
PostPosted: Sat Mar 25, 2017 2:05 pm 
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NigheanDubh wrote:
kiwijo wrote:
But how does GRM know about Marthe and her relationship to Lymond? I can't think of any known contact for that - GRM didn't know about Marthe at the outset because Lymond didn't know, and they didn't discuss it in the water fight or in Topkapi. So it's either KK or the spy in Lymond's camp? A meeting between KK and Marthe would be interesting ...


Really good questions, kiwijo. I'm thinking that Jerott, as GRM's spy in QP, was already scouting Lymond. Wasn't Jerott following Lymond? (We discover this in TDK) I think it was then, in Queens' Play, that GRM was accumulating information. At the time, since he didn't expect such opposition from Lymond, it may have been for more innocuous reasons (which is doubtful because there isn't an innocuous bone in GRM's body). GRM must have had other spies. My hunch is that he was looking to discover all he could about this potential postulant for the Order of Malta. In the beginning of TDK, Lymond is approached about becoming a knight and on the heals of Will's wedding Lymond goes to France, and if I've understood it correctly, returns to to join the Knights salvage the order in Malta and Northern Africa (as a manner of penance for his/Thady Boy's decadent behavior in France.) Does that make any sense? I'm trying to sort it out, so bear with me. :read:

Perhaps, but whipping out Occam's razor for a moment, isn't the nexus here KK? She knows all three players (GRM, Lymond, and Marthe) and she is in a position inside Topkapi with GRM to tell him this. After all, she is following her "whim" wherever that might lead, and it might lead to Jubrael Pasha for all we know. KK's motives are elusive. At least now we know what has been driving Marthe.

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 Post subject: Re: DUNNETT: PiF: Ch. 23: Constantinople: The House of Gault
PostPosted: Sat Mar 25, 2017 2:08 pm 
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NigheanDubh wrote:
kiwijo wrote:
But how does GRM know about Marthe and her relationship to Lymond? I can't think of any known contact for that - GRM didn't know about Marthe at the outset because Lymond didn't know, and they didn't discuss it in the water fight or in Topkapi. So it's either KK or the spy in Lymond's camp? A meeting between KK and Marthe would be interesting ...


Really good questions, kiwijo. I'm thinking that Jerott, as GRM's spy in QP, was already scouting Lymond. Wasn't Jerott following Lymond? (We discover this in TDK) I think it was then, in Queens' Play, that GRM was accumulating information. At the time, since he didn't expect such opposition from Lymond, it may have been for more innocuous reasons (which is doubtful because there isn't an innocuous bone in GRM's body). GRM must have had other spies. My hunch is that he was looking to discover all he could about this potential postulant for the Order of Malta. In the beginning of TDK, Lymond is approached about becoming a knight and on the heals of Will's wedding Lymond goes to France, and if I've understood it correctly, returns to to join the Knights salvage the order in Malta and Northern Africa (as a manner of penance for his/Thady Boy's decadent behavior in France.) Does that make any sense? I'm trying to sort it out, so bear with me. :read:


No, it was the other way around. On their way back from Malta to Scotland, Lymond had GRM followed by Tosh, but Jerott thinks Tosh was following him (since he was with GRM most of the time.)

My take on Lymond going to Malta is a little different... I believe he was going to recruit for his St. Mary's army, plus see if Oonagh was all right. Being Lymond, he couldn't help learning all he could about the Knights while he was there.

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“...I prize freedom of the mind above freedom of the body. I claim the right to make my own mistakes and keep quiet about them. ... My life is at your disposal, but not my thoughts.”
Francis Crawford, in Dorothy Dunnett's Game of Kings


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 Post subject: Re: DUNNETT: PiF: Ch. 23: Constantinople: The House of Gault
PostPosted: Sat Mar 25, 2017 2:13 pm 
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pagali wrote:
NigheanDubh wrote:
kiwijo wrote:
But how does GRM know about Marthe and her relationship to Lymond? I can't think of any known contact for that - GRM didn't know about Marthe at the outset because Lymond didn't know, and they didn't discuss it in the water fight or in Topkapi. So it's either KK or the spy in Lymond's camp? A meeting between KK and Marthe would be interesting ...


Really good questions, kiwijo. I'm thinking that Jerott, as GRM's spy in QP, was already scouting Lymond. Wasn't Jerott following Lymond? (We discover this in TDK) I think it was then, in Queens' Play, that GRM was accumulating information. At the time, since he didn't expect such opposition from Lymond, it may have been for more innocuous reasons (which is doubtful because there isn't an innocuous bone in GRM's body). GRM must have had other spies. My hunch is that he was looking to discover all he could about this potential postulant for the Order of Malta. In the beginning of TDK, Lymond is approached about becoming a knight and on the heals of Will's wedding Lymond goes to France, and if I've understood it correctly, returns to to join the Knights salvage the order in Malta and Northern Africa (as a manner of penance for his/Thady Boy's decadent behavior in France.) Does that make any sense? I'm trying to sort it out, so bear with me. :read:


No, it was the other way around. On their way back from Malta to Scotland, Lymond had GRM followed by Tosh, but Jerott thinks Tosh was following him (since he was with GRM most of the time.)

My take on Lymond going to Malta is a little different... I believe he was going to recruit for his St. Mary's army, plus see if Oonagh was all right. Being Lymond, he couldn't help learning all he could about the Knights while he was there.
Yes, that's right. Thank you, Pagali. :bow: Some day I'll get it all straight.

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 Post subject: Re: DUNNETT: PiF: Ch. 23: Constantinople: The House of Gault
PostPosted: Sun Mar 26, 2017 3:15 pm 
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In case anyone is interested, Pierre Gilles' book The Antiquities of Constantinople is available at Archive.org. His description of the cistern starts on p. 146.

https://archive.org/stream/antiquitiesofcon00gill#page/146/mode/2up

He says the people who lived above the cistern "had not the least suspicion" it was there and it was discovered by him, who was a stranger to the place. Dunnett knew her stuff! But Gilles must have still been angry with Marthe and George because he doesn't give them any credit for the discovery. :bigsmile:

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 Post subject: Re: DUNNETT: PiF: Ch. 23: Constantinople: The House of Gault
PostPosted: Sun Mar 26, 2017 3:53 pm 
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NigheanDubh wrote:
In the beginning of TDK, Lymond is approached about becoming a knight and on the heals of Will's wedding Lymond goes to France, and if I've understood it correctly, returns to to join the Knights salvage the order in Malta and Northern Africa (as a manner of penance for his/Thady Boy's decadent behavior in France.) Does that make any sense? I'm trying to sort it out, so bear with me. :read:


Please don't feel I'm picking on you, ND, but I think it's important for newer readers to understand the timeline. Those first couple of chapters of TDK always mess with peoples' heads -- it's not instantly obvious they're flashbacks. Lymond's trip to France really wasn't on the heels of Will's wedding... there were almost 2 years in between. And it's 3 years before he goes to Malta.

Aug 1548-------Lymond exonerated, end of GoK
Oct 1548--------Wedding of Will Scott; Strozzi talks to other Crawfords about Knights.
May 1549-------Hough Isa incident - Lymond meets Villegagnon, hears about Knights.
Sep 1550--------Lymond goes to France (start of QP)
Jun 1551--------End of QP. Lymond still in France.
Jul 1551---------Start of DK. Lymond sets off for Malta.

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Francis Crawford, in Dorothy Dunnett's Game of Kings


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 Post subject: Re: DUNNETT: PiF: Ch. 23: Constantinople: The House of Gault
PostPosted: Sun Mar 26, 2017 3:57 pm 
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Great find, Clewless. Thanks for the link.

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