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 Post subject: DUNNETT: PIF: Chapter 25: Constantinople: The Divan
PostPosted: Thu Apr 06, 2017 3:38 am 
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Pawn in Frankincense
by Dorothy Dunnett

© 1966 - © 1994

Chapter 25: Constantinople: The Divan

Quote:
I propose that what has begun as a game, entangling as puppets who knows how many innocent as well as the guilty, should end in like fashion.…I propose you a game of live chess.

In which Lymond is once again in front of GRM inside Topkapi, this time facing judgment from Jubrael Pasha. This chapter bookends Chapter 20, with remarkable resonances and twists of fate.

Scene 1: Lymond, Jerott, and Archie

The three men are imprisoned inside the Seraglio awaiting their fate, which they know is a certain and painful death. Lymond’s main concern is that his opium supply last long enough to see him through the horrors that await him.

Marthe, Khaireddin, and Onophrion’s whereabouts are unknown. Jerott now knows they have all been betrayed by Míkál, not, as he feared, by Marthe. Lymond learns for the first time about Marthe, Gaultier, Gilles and their treasure hunt.

Archie doses Lymond with opium and something else to make him sleep, and he warns Jerott that Lymond is very near the edge and could not have gone on much longer regardless of what happened. Jerott says it’s a pity they didn’t mind their own business, but wise Archie replies that he doubts Jerott could have lived with himself any more than he could if they had.

Scene 2: Philippa and Marthe

Bewildered Marthe and Philippa find themselves locked in the same room, where Marthe learns of Míkál’s betrayal. Philippa tries to think of ways Marthe can save herself, either by joining a harem or claiming she was forced to carry the fateful message to Philippa. She even asks if Jerott wouldn’t sacrifice himself for Marthe, a question met by Marthe’s cynicism (“Mr. Byth put me here”).

But her cynicism is sorely tested by Philippa’s strength of character, especially when the younger woman, who impresses Marthe with her spirit and determination, tells Marthe that she would make the sacrifice to save Marthe. Even the cold, controlled Marthe cannot hide her involuntary physical reaction to such generosity:

Quote:
The colour left Marthe’s face too, in patches; then flooded in, deep rose over her brow and cheeks and slim neck.

Although Marthe tries to undercut Philippa’s reason for offering her assistance (is it ”because I look like my brother?”), Philippa’s purity of heart and open honesty master the moment:

Quote:
Philippa’s dark brows had met in a straight line; her brown eyes opaque with a new self-control fighting with a faint and horrified understanding. After a while she said simply, ‘No. Because I know what it is to need help.’

And this is how Philippa finds out Lymond and Marthe are siblings with “the same failings.”

Scene 3: Lymond, Jerott, and Archie

The next day arrives and with it the tribunal, a great relief to Jerott who just wants this all to end. Better to have it over with, especially before Lymond’s opium supply runs out. Today, Lymond is almost himself thanks to Archie’s ministrations. But Lymond’s vulnerability is on display as the Janisseries are heard approaching. He wants to say something to Jerott and Archie, but he cannot say it now for fear of losing his composure. And, as Jerott observes, Lymond’s anxiety over how long the effects of the opium will last and Archie’s calm reply make Jerott realize that Archie is old enough to be Lymond’s father and has the maturity and experience only age can confer.

Scene 4: Lymond, Gabriel, and Míkál

Again as in Chapter 20, Dunnett calls our attention to the men in their turbans:

Quote:
the robed figures ranged in their furred winter robes, their turbans and hats, round, conical, oblong, in every colour and shape describing as clearly as badges the ranks in law and security, holy teaching, administration and learning foregathered there.

Gabriel himself conducts the case against Lymond, which has three counts:

1. Lying to the Sultan about Kuzum by claiming he was the French king’s *******. The “abduction” and other crimes against the two boys, Philippa, and GRM himself are bad but incidental to the damning crime of lying to the Sultan.
2. Theft from GRM’s house. Jerott cannot believe he is hearing this charge, but reasons that GRM added it because Turks are crazy for gold and a theft would appeal to them in a way that the story about children would not. [That’s quite an insight!]
3. Instigating sedition by starting and spreading the rumor that Roxelana and Rustem Pasha made up the story about Mustafa in order to put Roxelana’s son on the throne.

While Míkál is “admiring his fingernails,” Gabriel continues his indictment of Lymond by revealing FC has been posing as a Meddáh and telling stories including one about a sultan’s treacherous wife. Lymond replies that he is merely repeating the story of the Forty Viziers:

Quote:
The Forty Viziers denotes a frame story that corresponds to the story of The Craft and Malice of Women, although it contains different tales. … In a footnote the translator declares that in the Arabic text this story cannot be found in this place, but that he included it for the sake of “completeness” on the basis of other sources. The Story of the Forty Viziers is found only in the Stuttgart/Pforzheim edition of Weil’s translation, included as part of the Arabian Nights. The Arabic version of the Forty Viziers dates back to the twelfth century.
The Arabian Nights Encyclopedia, vol 1

Lymond says he found evidence against Gabriel in his house and points out that thus far GRM has failed to produce any hard evidence or witnesses against him. Gabriel has been waiting for this: he calls on Míkál to testify against Lymond and confirm the truth of all the accusations against him. At last, at long last, the tables are turned on Graham Reid Malett:

Quote:
Míkál looked up at the Vizier and over his shoulder at Lymond’s bent head. Then turning politely, he addressed the assembled officials. ‘I would,’ he said charmingly, ‘if I could: but how can I say what is not true?’

Of course, GRM, who only moments before had claimed Míkál’s loyalty was “beyond question,” turns on the young man, calling him Lymond’s *****. Seeing the situation begin to spiral out of his control, Gabriel seeks to end the session before any further damage can be done to him. But someone has other ideas because he is prevented from leaving the room by the Kislar Agha, who brings a summons from Roxelana for GRM and Lymond and all the other involved parties to present themselves in the selamlìk. To ensure they do, she has sent an escort.

On their way from the Divan to their audience with Roxelana, Lymond asks Míkál the question burning in his mind (and ours): why did you bring the children back? You had me. Why not let these innocents go? The answer is not surprising but disturbing: She ordered they be returned with the adults. But, as is usually the case, all Míkál cares about is Gabriel’s claim that Lymond had a sexual encounter with the Aga Morat. Alas, poor Jerott. He thinks he knows what happened between Lymond and the Aga Morat but he really is clueless. He still does not realize the sacrifice Lymond made for him.

Scene 5: Lymond, Gabriel, Roxelana, Philippa, and Kiaya Khátún

Roxelana, in her role as the wife of the Sultan, holds court in the most magnificent of rooms to emphasize her power and majesty. The loud, garish surroundings are at odds with the enforced silence.

Everyone is here, including for the first time Marthe, Philippa, Khaireddin, and Kuzukuyum. To Jerott’s mind, the tableau is a terrible image:

Quote:
Jerott, looking at Lymond’s impassive face, thought, My God: it’s a bloody crèche … the ultimate humiliation. The last hand-to-hand fight with this man who can win empires with abominations and rot them with evil, all stickied over by babies in napkins. The last tomb, whoever should occupy it, furnished brightly with ridicule.

Gabriel goes first and makes a solid if circumstantial case against Lymond. When it is Lymond’s turn, he acknowledges that there has been precious little hard evidence and a lot of hearsay, but he plans to change that. Much to Jerott and Gabriel’s shock, Lymond calls on the veiled woman seated beside Roxelana: Kiaya Khátún.

Her testimony against Gabriel is damning. She explains that she used Míkál to win Gabriel’s trust when all the while he was reporting to her or Lymond. She knew Gabriel had tried to suborn the Agha of Janisseries and she found letters in Gabriel’s own hand detailing the rumors about Roxelana and Rustem Pasha. Gabriel did all these things with the intent to discredit Roxelana and Rustem Pasha and leave him in command.

But Gabriel is not done. He viciously and personally attacks Kiaya, but she has the last word when she admits she has shared Gabriel’s bed. Although Roxelana is convinced of Gabriel’s guilt, Lymond’s meddling in the Ottoman affairs of state cannot go unpunished either. Roxelana’s solution is terrible, cruel, and perfect for her purposes: a game of chess with living pieces.

The rules are simple: one side lives, one side dies. All pieces taken forfeit their lives. Philippa is the prize. Lymond gamely tries to convince Roxelana to let the match be between him and Gabriel, but she has ruled.

Scene 6: Philippa and Marthe

Back in the harem with the two boys, the “prosaic” Philippa finally breaks down and Marthe intervenes to stop her from frightening the children any more than they already are. Marthe treats Philippa to more of her grim philosophy of life:

Quote:
Juste ciel, don’t you recognize yet that this is life, this two-sided trickery? There is hope, and here is brutality, to cancel it out. You think we should help one another. Why, when in a twist of an hour our lives can be turned into ashes, through no fault of our own? I told you once. I live for nothing, and I hope for nothing. I am not disappointed.’

I think Marthe means juste ciel both figuratively and literally: “good heavens” (in common parlance) and “the just heavens,” which fits this horrible scenario to perfection in Marthe’s mind: on the scales of justice, one side holds hope and the other brutality.

Scene 7: Lymond, Jerott, Míkál, and Archie

Lymond again asks Míkál why he brought the children back, and this time we learn who she is: Kiaya Khátún, not Roxelana. Kiaya is not counted as a “friend of Lymond” for the purposes of the chess game because she is Dragut Rais’s mistress and someone who knows too much, has too many friends, and is too powerful to be disposed of in such a manner.

Lymond provides a clear and concise explanation of the the Roxelana-Rustem Pasha-Gabriel conspiracy. All the accusations about Roxelana and Rustem Pasha are true, the only new element being that Gabriel was the third party go-between carrying messages and letters. And Gabriel was at the same time spreading rumors about Roxelana and Rustem Pasha’s guilt so that he would be left in power once they were exposed. Lymond had hoped that Roxelana, once she had proof of Gabriel’s guilt, would let them all leave, but he (and possibly Kiaya) were “over-optimistic.”

Jerott asks Lymond:
Quote:
‘Wouldn’t a simple assassination have been easier?’… I tried that. In fact, name some way I didn’t try it. He knew, you see. He was guarded from morning till night; even his food was tasted beforehand. Therefore the State had to do the butchering, and I had to get into the Seraglio to present my case to the State.’ ‘With Míkál’s help?’ ‘With Míkál’s help,’ agreed Lymond.

This indicates Lymond was in on Míkál’s betrayal, and that betrayal was all part of a ruse to trick Gabriel into bringing Lymond before Roxelana. Furthermore, this means Lymond did not go to GRM’s house to kill him but instead went in order to be captured and brought to trial.

Jerott, in an uncharitable moment, wishes Lymond could have left everyone else out of his personal vendetta, but he quickly recovers and admits he inserted himself into Lymond’s business and Lymond is not responsible for all that has befallen the other players--the boys, Philippa, Marthe, and Onophrion.

Which begs the question: where is Onophrion? The last anyone saw of him was when he and Jerott entered the Seraglio to retrieve Marthe. Is he dead at the hands of Gabriel?

Questions

1. Lymond says of Philippa,
Quote:
Only through his [Gabriel’s] machinations were the girl and the child placed in the harem in the first instance…

This implies Evangelista Donati was an agent of Gabriel’s, but at this point Lymond thinks Míkál is working for Gabriel. Do you think Míkál was working for Kiaya from the first time we met him and it was her plan to get Philippa and Kuzum into Topkapi?

2. Why would Lymond as the Meddáh tell stories that parallel the Roxelana plot against Suleiman? Does this strike anyone else as odd?
Quote:
And the stories, as I have told you, concerned a king far older than the present great Sultan Suleiman, and a queen long dead and far less beautiful than his wife. If men discuss these in modern terms, it is no fault of mine.…’

3. As we near Easter and at the risk of being over-the-top, did the similarities with the betrayal of Christ strike anyone else? Christ, too, had to be betrayed, captured, and brought to trial as part of the fulfillment of a plan, albeit a divine one. Thoughts?

4. How long do you think Kiaya Khátún was potting with Lymond against Gabriel? Does her involvement date back to Djerba as Gabriel claims? Why is she helping Lymond to destroy Gabriel? What are her motives and goals?

5. What does Kiaya mean when she says “I have had it” in response to Gabriel? Does she mean she has had power or punishment (or both)?
Quote:
This woman: this she-camel common to men, who will turn her back on Dragut and set her eyes even on Suleiman Khan, so great is her yearning for power. What punishment do these things demand?’ Kiaya Khátún looked at him, her perfect dark eyes astonished. ‘I have had it,’ she said. ‘When you said on your knees, Be my bed-fellow.

6. As they await the life-and-death game of chess, how do you think Philippa reacts to Marthe’s fatalism (live for nothing, hope for nothing)? Why does Marthe regale Philippa with this philosophy of utter futility? Is she trying to be helpful or just cruel?

7. Why does Roxelana command a live chess game knowing that innocents are likely to die? Is it her “whim” or is she just cruel or is there another reason for this particular form of punishment?

8. The Big Question: Would the Lymond-Kiaya plan have worked if she had told Míkál to let the children, Philippa, and Archie go, or was her insistence the children be returned necessary to convince Gabriel that Míkál was working for him?

_________________
"Look up," said the Master, "and see them. The teaching stars, beyond worship and commonplace tongues. The infinite eyes of innocence." Dorothy Dunnett, Game of Kings


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 Post subject: Re: DUNNETT: PIF: Chapter 25: Constantinople: The Divan
PostPosted: Thu Apr 06, 2017 1:24 pm 
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:wall: It's all just so awful. I mean, I'm glad that it's finally clear that GRM is the guilty one and that Roxelana is dealing with him. But, a game of live chess with the lives of innocents at stake??? And, it's clear that Lymond has friends to protect, but who the heck would be considered friends of GRM??? :wall: :cry: I know she put the two boys on GRM's side and they are safer there because Lymond will be careful about capturing them whereas GRM wouldn't care what happened to any of the "pieces", but that's horrific! :cry:

I'm glad Mikal came through in the end to some extent, but I'm still iffy about him and his role. I know KK said to bring the children and Philippa back, but there wasn't a lot of time here so couldn't they have let them all go? And, yes, Roxelana is seeming quite cruel IMO, especially since Lymond - whose crimes seem less serious - will have a harder time of it since he actually cares about what happens to others and GRM doesn't and that will affect strategy in a chess game.

And, of course, where is Onophrion?


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 Post subject: Re: DUNNETT: PIF: Chapter 25: Constantinople: The Divan
PostPosted: Thu Apr 06, 2017 2:40 pm 
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Wow - what a lot to digest!
Thanks for the summary Clewless; laying it out in scenes makes it easier to follow. Thanks also for clarifying the subtle points I had missed. So Lymond knew that Mikkal was reporting to GRM, and used that as part of his strategy? Now we know the meaning of his comment, "Why, Mikkal?" in the last chapter - he meant "why betray the children?"

I am sure the detailed description of Roxelana's room was magnificent, but I rushed through it in order to learn what would happen to our heroes. I wonder if Lymond and his friends noticed any of the sumptuous decoration.

How on earth did Lymond know that KK would be present when Roxelana called for them all? Has he been in communication with her all this time?

I began to wonder if it had been Mikkal who administered the opium, but now that he seems to be back on Lymond's side, I am not so sure. I would like to know where Oz is.

[quote="Clewless"]But, as is usually the case, all Míkál cares about is Gabriel’s claim that Lymond had a sexual encounter with the Aga Morat. Alas, poor Jerott. He thinks he knows what happened between Lymond and the Aga Morat but he really is clueless. He still does not realize the sacrifice Lymond made for him.

It is a wonder that Marthe never told Jerott this - that would have been her style, to wound Jerott. I hope Jerott does not put his bumbling foot in this with Mikkal, and say something to the effect that he thought Lymond wanted to be with the AG.

[quote="audiobooklover"]And, it's clear that Lymond has friends to protect, but who the heck would be considered friends of GRM??? :wall:
That is a good point, and one I had not thought of. Would anybody want to be called a friend of GRM?
I spent hours trying to figure out who the 16 players on Lymond's side would be. What if they put Lymond's crew on GRM's side, so that Lymond is trying to save both sets of pieces while playing the game?

Marthe tells Philippa that she is Lymond's ******* sister. This is interesting. So, my earlier thought that Sybilla and her husband had somehow had a child and forgotten it along the way won't work. Being a ******* implies that the parents were not married, but under the law at the time, if the woman was married, then the child was considered her husband's child, so this is confusing me. Is Marthe the same age as Lymond?
If we think that Sybilla's husband (whose name I forget) is not Lymond's father (and that would account for the comments we have heard in the previous books) then this could mean that Lymond and Richard are not really brothers, so the DD's comment that the two brothers will not meet again could be interpreted not as one of the brothers dying, or of them being permanently separated, but rather that when they next meet they will no longer be brothers.

I am glad that Marthe is getting a dose of kindness from Philippa, who has matured a lot over the course of this book.

Even though this chapter had some awful scenes and has alluded to worse things to come, I feel as though we have a glimmer of hope, and I am glad that Lymond and Jerott and Archie are together. (I'm still not sure how I feel about Mikkal).

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 Post subject: Re: DUNNETT: PIF: Chapter 25: Constantinople: The Divan
PostPosted: Thu Apr 06, 2017 3:01 pm 
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As to GRM's "friends," I would guess they are more allies and/or henchmen than "friends." He clearly has had a lot of help along the way, and those who have helped him probably have a variety of different reasons for so doing.

I am going to refrain from other comments and let others jump in and respond to DLT and audiobooklover's excellent insights. So, so, so much to say about this chapter!

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"Look up," said the Master, "and see them. The teaching stars, beyond worship and commonplace tongues. The infinite eyes of innocence." Dorothy Dunnett, Game of Kings


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 Post subject: Re: DUNNETT: PIF: Chapter 25: Constantinople: The Divan
PostPosted: Thu Apr 06, 2017 8:48 pm 
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Clewless wrote:
And, as Jerott observes, Lymond’s anxiety over how long the effects of the opium will last and Archie’s calm reply make Jerott realize that Archie is old enough to be Lymond’s father and has the maturity and experience only age can confer.

I wonder if the comparison of ages between Lymond and Archie is mentioned here because Archie will be sacrificed (or will offer himself to be sacrificed) in the chess game, in order to save the younger people?
This seems like a bit of a lead up to one of those "I have done all I can, my son, now it is your turn to carry on the fight/quest/whatever," moments.
I am hoping not, because I don't want any of Lymond's people to be sacrificed, but I can't think of how else to play a chess game.


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 Post subject: Re: DUNNETT: PIF: Chapter 25: Constantinople: The Divan
PostPosted: Thu Apr 06, 2017 8:50 pm 
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Clewless, thank you for your presentation of scenes. It does make it easier to follow. Excellent summary, presentation and questions.
As always. :bow: :bow: :bow:

clewless wrote:
Jerott asks Lymond:
Quote:
‘Wouldn’t a simple assassination have been easier?’… I tried that. In fact, name some way I didn’t try it. He knew, you see. He was guarded from morning till night; even his food was tasted beforehand. Therefore the State had to do the butchering, and I had to get into the Seraglio to present my case to the State.’ ‘With Míkál’s help?’ ‘With Míkál’s help,’ agreed Lymond.

This indicates Lymond was in on Míkál’s betrayal, and that betrayal was all part of a ruse to trick Gabriel into bringing Lymond before Roxelana. Furthermore, this means Lymond did not go to GRM’s house to kill him but instead went in order to be captured and brought to trial.
This is one magnificent reveal.

I also think, in light of the Mikal--KK--Lymond alliance, that Kiaya Khatun deliberately dropped her earring, an earring that Lymond and the rest of us would recognize, in order to signal something to Lymond.

Philippa is so pure that I actually think that Marthe is looking to her to make the best of a grim situation.

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--Game of Kings


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 Post subject: Re: DUNNETT: PIF: Chapter 25: Constantinople: The Divan
PostPosted: Thu Apr 06, 2017 9:20 pm 
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Oh, and one other random thing. As I was listening and they were talking about ages, it said very clearly that Lymond is 26 (I believe - haven't checked back on the number). I know his age was something we talked about in the past because it isn't stated very often, so it jumped out at me that it was here stated straight out.


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 Post subject: Re: DUNNETT: PIF: Chapter 25: Constantinople: The Divan
PostPosted: Thu Apr 06, 2017 9:58 pm 
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audiobooklover wrote:
Oh, and one other random thing. As I was listening and they were talking about ages, it said very clearly that Lymond is 26 (I believe - haven't checked back on the number). I know his age was something we talked about in the past because it isn't stated very often, so it jumped out at me that it was here stated straight out.


Yes, 26 is what Jerrott says in this chapter; I think he's the same age. And remember back in the Thessalonika chapter, that's what Lymond also tells Mikal when asked how old he is. So this is actually the second time it's been stated.

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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: Chapter 25: Constantinople: The Divan
PostPosted: Thu Apr 06, 2017 10:07 pm 
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Clewless…thank you for the summary. I really liked how you turned it into scenes….very dramatic and cinematic and the idea of this chapter being a bookend with Ch. 10 was terrific.
1. Lymond says of Philippa,
Quote:
Only through his [Gabriel’s] machinations were the girl and the child placed in the harem in the first instance…

This implies Evangelista Donati was an agent of Gabriel’s, but at this point Lymond thinks Míkál is working for Gabriel. Do you think Míkál was working for Kiaya from the first time we met him and it was her plan to get Philippa and Kuzum into Topkapi?

I think Evangelista hated GRM and that the machinations were GRM’s influence with the Beglierbey as was the attempt on FC & party that killed Salablanca...it was at about that point that Mikal had vanished again after all (he’s like a gorgeous genie)

2. Why would Lymond as the Meddáh tell stories that parallel the Roxelana plot against Suleiman? Does this strike anyone else as odd? Quote:
And the stories, as I have told you, concerned a king far older than the present great Sultan Suleiman, and a queen long dead and far less beautiful than his wife. If men discuss these in modern terms, it is no fault of mine.…’

I thought that FC’s stories as the Meddah, although some seem politically motivated were designed to be as familiar as nursery rhymes or fairy stories are to us. Such that he could move around the city and create a niche that allowed him to create his escape plan


3. As we near Easter and at the risk of being over-the-top, did the similarities with the betrayal of Christ strike anyone else? Christ, too, had to be betrayed, captured, and brought to trial as part of the fulfillment of a plan, albeit a divine one. Thoughts?

It is a familiar topic throughout folk stories and cultures, from Egypt to Scandinavia, Osisris & Baldur for example or even the old Mother religion with the sacrifice of the king bringing the hope of new life after death.

4. How long do you think Kiaya Khátún was potting with Lymond against Gabriel? Does her involvement date back to Djerba as Gabriel claims? Why is she helping Lymond to destroy Gabriel? What are her motives and goals?

I am sure that KK & FC made some kind of side deal in Djerba.

5. What does Kiaya mean when she says “I have had it” in response to Gabriel? Does she mean she has had power or punishment (or both)?

DEFINITELY punishment. What a slam to GRM’s sociopathic ego!
Quote:
This woman: this she-camel common to men, who will turn her back on Dragut and set her eyes even on Suleiman Khan, so great is her yearning for power. What punishment do these things demand?’ Kiaya Khátún looked at him, her perfect dark eyes astonished. ‘I have had it,’ she said. ‘When you said on your knees, Be my bed-fellow.

6. As they await the life-and-death game of chess, how do you think Philippa reacts to Marthe’s fatalism (live for nothing, hope for nothing)? Why does Marthe regale Philippa with this philosophy of utter futility? Is she trying to be helpful or just cruel?

I think Marthe has a warped sense of insight when it comes to some of her comments and I think back to her speech to Jerrott at the Bektashi tekke about her philosophy. On the other hand she may actually be trying to protect Phillippa here by reminding her of the dreadful powerless reality of their circumstances.

7. Why does Roxelana command a live chess game knowing that innocents are likely to die? Is it her “whim” or is she just cruel or is there another reason for this particular form of punishment?

Roxelana is cruel…she plotted the death of Mustafa & his family after all, she tricked the Sultan into marriage with her and she is here exerting her immense power as well as finding a way to punish both GRM & FC that leaves her little painted, jewelled, perfumed hands clean.


http://www.muslimheritage.com/article/game-kings an interesting review…Quote:
“In essence, chess is warfare, as much psychology as strategy. To win, one must understand the mentality of the opponent, hinted at in each new move. One must so thoroughly master the adversary's weaknesses—an overzealous offence? guarding rather than attacking? a passion for sweeping one end?—that one can anticipate them and use them. Chess is a game of information, false and true, derived from what the opponent "should" do, based on his own past play or that of others, and on what the opponent actually does. Chess has no bloodshed, but the exhilaration of psychological warfare—taking no prisoners in a complete victory—is its attraction.”


8. The Big Question: Would the Lymond-Kiaya plan have worked if she had told Míkál to let the children, Philippa, and Archie go, or was her insistence the children be returned necessary to convince Gabriel that Míkál was working for him?
I have trouble with this one. I want to read what other’s insights might be.
P.S. In Jerrott's aside about Archie & FC's respective ages, I think he is just conflicted because of the dreadful effect of drugs that are becoming so immediately visible upon FC's intellect, appearance & physical strength

This is another terrible chapter. Heather


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 Post subject: Re: DUNNETT: PIF: Chapter 25: Constantinople: The Divan
PostPosted: Fri Apr 07, 2017 9:44 am 
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Heather wrote:
Quote:
2. Why would Lymond as the Meddáh tell stories that parallel the Roxelana plot against Suleiman? Does this strike anyone else as odd? Quote:
And the stories, as I have told you, concerned a king far older than the present great Sultan Suleiman, and a queen long dead and far less beautiful than his wife. If men discuss these in modern terms, it is no fault of mine.…’

I thought that FC’s stories as the Meddah, although some seem politically motivated were designed to be as familiar as nursery rhymes or fairy stories are to us. Such that he could move around the city and create a niche that allowed him to create his escape plan

I agree with your analysis, but I remain puzzled why Lymond would stray into such dangerous waters as the tale of the Forty Viziers when the parallels to Roxelana are all to apparent. Perhaps he was laying a trap for GRM: Lymond guessed that GRM would use this story against him to try to persuade Roxelana of Lymond's treachery, but Lymond turns the tables on GRM by saying, in effect, "Hey, it's only in YOUR perverse mind that there is any connection between Roxelana and the long dead queen. There could only BE such an association if YOU, GRM, believe (or know) Roxelana to be guilty of the same sort of perfidy towards Suleiman as the queen in the story."

This explanation also fits with something else Lymond says:
Quote:
A single trickle of sweat was running down the splendid framework of Gabriel’s face. For a moment he said nothing at all. Then he said, quietly, direct to the Sultana, ‘If these spies tell the truth, then they have what they should not have, and know what they should not know.’ And like an answering chord, Lymond’s voice spoke equally quietly. ‘You forget. There is nothing to know.’
Only someone with intimate knowledge of Roxelana's guilt would think there was something "to know."

I love the way you put this, Heather, about Roxelana:
Quote:
that leaves her little painted, jewelled, perfumed hands clean.
Very nicely said. She also perverts the noble game of chess as it is described in the quotation you provided:
Quote:
Chess has no bloodshed, but the exhilaration of psychological warfare—taking no prisoners in a complete victory—is its attraction.

It's impossible to imagine the live chess game without some bloodshed, especially since GRM cares not a whit who lives or dies except himself and Lymond. :worry:

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 Post subject: Re: DUNNETT: PIF: Chapter 25: Constantinople: The Divan
PostPosted: Fri Apr 07, 2017 11:06 am 
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Excellent summary as always Clewless!! oh my, there's some much going on!! It feels like the roller coster stopped its unending painfully slow ascent, and is going down full speed. Let's brace ourselves for it.

This chapter brings that long awaited release.... we've been waiting ages for things to go down for GRM, for Francis to finally be able to outplay him. And we also learn that he hasn't been so outplayed before, we just didn't know his real game.

I'm also relieved by Mikal (partial) clearing his participation in the plot. I do believe that Lymond cares for Mikal (just as I do). And even if he's working for KK, it seems that they both are working for Lymond, and not against him. Anyway, it's Kiaya Khatun we are talking about, so she must be working for herself, I wonder, what is the price Lymond agreed to pay?

I agree with most of your comments.... Roxelana is pure evil, she may need the parties to kill each other because they all compromise her, but why involve the children? why give the same punishment to both parties? why not send the mutes to kill everyone and be done with it? The live chess game is cruelty beyond understanding, of a sophisticaded mind.

But, here we have Lymond once again: so many lives depending on him, and he not allowed to sacrifice himself for everyone.

As to the last question... I can't think of a reason why it wouldn't. GRM is absolutely convinced of Mikal alliance. Well, maybe he would have turn up dead in some alley, for failing to recover the children, but GRM's goal is Francis, not the children, he doesn't care about them, as long as he has him, he thinks his master plan has succedeed, and it's only left to kill him, in his own terms, of course. Anyway, the only thing changing would be Francis and GRM in a duel instead of a chess game, and him not caring for his life at all, if it carries GRM's death.

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 Post subject: Re: DUNNETT: PIF: Chapter 25: Constantinople: The Divan
PostPosted: Fri Apr 07, 2017 4:06 pm 
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Clewless wrote:
Quote:
I agree with your analysis, but I remain puzzled why Lymond would stray into such dangerous waters as the tale of the Forty Viziers when the parallels to Roxelana are all to apparent. Perhaps he was laying a trap for GRM: Lymond guessed that GRM would use this story against him to try to persuade Roxelana of Lymond's treachery, but Lymond turns the tables on GRM by saying, in effect, "Hey, it's only in YOUR perverse mind that there is any connection between Roxelana and the long dead queen. There could only BE such an association if YOU, GRM, believe (or know) Roxelana to be guilty of the same sort of perfidy towards Suleiman as the queen in the story."

This explanation also fits with something else Lymond says:
Quote:
A single trickle of sweat was running down the splendid framework of Gabriel’s face. For a moment he said nothing at all. Then he said, quietly, direct to the Sultana, ‘If these spies tell the truth, then they have what they should not have, and know what they should not know.’ And like an answering chord, Lymond’s voice spoke equally quietly. ‘You forget. There is nothing to know.’
Only someone with intimate knowledge of Roxelana's guilt would think there was something "to know."

FC's trap for GRM...that makes it so clear and I meant to include this in my last comment...
ND wrote:
Quote:
I also think, in light of the Mikal--KK--Lymond alliance, that Kiaya Khatun deliberately dropped her earring, an earring that Lymond and the rest of us would recognize, in order to signal something to Lymond.
And that earring was the only thing that FC took from GRM's room...to return to KK?

And my last thought about Marthe...when she says to Phillippa "We have the same failings"... and if I am being spoilery here, someone please pull me up...is there anywhere so far where Marthe's age or birthday is indicated? If she is a sibling, ******* or otherwise, is she a twin? That is the only way she could have the exact same failings... and what of all the strengths? That must be similar too and we have already seen some of them. Heather


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 Post subject: Re: DUNNETT: PIF: Chapter 25: Constantinople: The Divan
PostPosted: Fri Apr 07, 2017 4:58 pm 
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[quote="hevva"]And my last thought about Marthe...when she says to Phillippa "We have the same failings"... and if I am being spoilery here, someone please pull me up...is there anywhere so far where Marthe's age or birthday is indicated? If she is a sibling, ******* or otherwise, is she a twin? That is the only way she could have the exact same failings... and what of all the strengths? That must be similar too and we have already seen some of them. Heather


Not at all!!! we don't have a clue about Marthe's age up to now, only that she's referred often as "a girl" They could be twins.... can a woman of 26 years old be called "girl"? well, I guess that Lymond doesn't show his age, probably he looks older than he is. Does she look her age? older? younger? we could be deceived.....

And I think SHE doesn't really know her age, is that possible? she never mentions it.
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 Post subject: Re: DUNNETT: PIF: Chapter 25: Constantinople: The Divan
PostPosted: Sat Apr 08, 2017 1:34 am 
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A short post while I'm on tablet, picking up on the KK theme. Dragut's mistress has admitted, in an official tribunal, that she has slept with GRM. Or at least that's how I interpret her 'punishment' comment - being his bed partner was 'punishment'. She's exempted from the chess match, because despite Roxelana's power, it could be tempered by murdering Dragut's mistress. But with that knowledge now out in the open, surely KK can't return to Dragut's side? Do we think Dragut is happy to share his courtesan or used her to bring down GRM? Methinks he has lost his 'woman like no other' ... but KK must have her own exit strategy and she has taken some risk to her own life to get to this point.


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 Post subject: Re: DUNNETT: PIF: Chapter 25: Constantinople: The Divan
PostPosted: Sat Apr 08, 2017 1:09 pm 
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N-D wrote:
Quote:
I also think, in light of the Mikal--KK--Lymond alliance, that Kiaya Khatun deliberately dropped her earring, an earring that Lymond and the rest of us would recognize, in order to signal something to Lymond.

In Dunnett, there are no coincidences. KK must have been signaling Lymond (she knew of his plan to go to GRM's house). SHE got the letters and I think she left the earring to let Lymond know that she found them:
Quote:
These I [KK] have also taken from Jubrael Pasha’s own house.


lormza said:
Quote:
Anyway, it's Kiaya Khatun we are talking about, so she must be working for herself, I wonder, what is the price Lymond agreed to pay?

Indeed, what price has she or will she exact from Lymond? I don't think he cares as long as he can save everyone else who deserves saving.

lormza also said:
Quote:
Roxelana is pure evil, she may need the parties to kill each other because they all compromise her, but why involve the children? why give the same punishment to both parties? why not send the mutes to kill everyone and be done with it?

I think it is vital to Roxelana's power that she been seen to conduct a "fair" trial and "fair" sentence. Simply having Lymond and GRM murdered won't do. GRM is a pasha and Lymond was a French emissary. More importantly, Roxelana is not the sultan and cannot get away with everything he can.

However, I cannot imagine Roxelana will let the winner live. Isn't that too risky for her given that both men know the truth about her? The chess game sounds like a no-win situation for everyone.

kiwijo said:
Quote:
But with that knowledge now out in the open, surely KK can't return to Dragut's side? Do we think Dragut is happy to share his courtesan or used her to bring down GRM? Methinks he has lost his 'woman like no other' ... but KK must have her own exit strategy and she has taken some risk to her own life to get to this point.

Yep, I agree. If I were KK, I would be planning my escape. Roxelana may not want Dragut's mistress murdered in the chess game, but I have to believe she will want her gone sooner rather than later. I think KK's involvement in this "byzantine" plot is her own doing and has nothing to do with Dragut. Dragut is old and I think KK has been looking for his replacement for some time. She seemed to consider GRM for a time, but chose Lymond, so she has a lot riding on the outcome of the chess game.

All this plotting and intrigue and pure evil is giving me a Philippa-style tummy ache.

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