The Writers’ Writer

As readers of Dunnett very well know, diving into one of her novels can be the start of a lifelong obsession. There are very few fans who have ever read the Lymond or Niccolò series just once and never returned. We are eternally captivated by her characters, backdrops, plots and language and find it hard – perhaps even impossible — to find other books that satisfy us in quite the same way. Each read — think of it as a literary onion — uncovers another layer of magic. It turns out that we are not alone. Well, of course not! It transpires that Dunnett — that most eloquent of writers — has also influenced and entranced a good many other authors as well. Here you will find the thoughts, whether they be brief or long, of wordsmiths from across the world who, too, have fallen in love with Dunnett.

Prue Batten, author of the Gisborne series
I discovered histfict long before I discovered Dorothy Dunnett but when I eventually unshelved her in a little seaside library many years ago, I felt as if I had come home. I devoured her books then, one after another, and my life changed. As an hist.fict writer, she is my one and only inspiration. Others will talk of her depthless research, her undeniable intellect and creative wit, but for me it is always about character and colour. The colour comes from enviable threads in the narrative that twist and turn, leaving the reader breathlessly knotted. She dared to take history and strip the threads to suit her purpose and then reweave it into an overpowering masterpiece of warp and weft. She deservedly earned her mantle. None other can ever equal her in my opinion. There are one or two who come so close as to tread on the velvet hems of that cloak, but for me, she is and will always remain, the doyen of historical fiction.
Pamela Belle, author of Wintercombe and many more

I discovered the glories of Dorothy Dunnett’s novels at the tender age of thirteen, nearly sixty years ago. I’d been laid up with flu, and was reading a back copy of my mother’s Woman’s Journal, in which there was a glowing review of DD’s first novel, The Game of Kings, set in 16th century Scotland. It sounded intriguing, so I borrowed it from the library, and was instantly hooked.


Needless to say, I didn’t understand the half of it, but I fell totally and passionately in love with the hero, Francis Crawford of Lymond. He was a man you could admire – a brilliant musician, soldier and polymath – but he was also, in the old-fashioned romantic tradition, moody, secretive, his own worst enemy, and above all, Misunderstood. There was action, humour, tragedy, suspense, and a thrilling denouement. I’d liked the historical stories of Ronald Welch and Rosemary Sutcliff, and I was now discovering adult authors such as Georgette Heyer and Jean Plaidy, but they were nothing like Dorothy Dunnett; even Heyer seemed dull and predictable by comparison.


I devoured Queen’s Play, the second in the Lymond Chronicles, as the series is now known, but had an agonising wait for The Disorderly Knights, which came out the following year. Pawn in Frankincense was published in 1969, just after I’d finished my A Levels. I remember standing in the bookshop in Ipswich, covertly reading the end – would my beloved hero die? No, he didn’t – but nothing in the world could have prepared me for the agonising scenes which had me reading until 4a.m. and then sobbing myself to sleep. The final two books (which of course I still have) were given to me by my parents, who by then were well aware of my obsession, and I read and re-read the series regularly, to the extent that I can still quote bits of it by heart.


So realistic, compelling and convincing was the world that Dorothy Dunnett had created, moving easily from Scotland to France, the Ottoman Empire, Russia and back to France and Scotland, that I began to do research of my own. Ipswich Library had all the State Papers for the period, and amongst many other things, I discovered to my delight that the raid on Hume Castle, so vividly described in The Game of Kings, was indeed led by a Spaniard (or was he?). I pored over maps and read biographies and histories of the period, confirming that the novels were based firmly in fact.


On a holiday in the Loire valley, I dragged my long-suffering parents round the castle at Amboise, location of a famous scene in Queen’s Play. For a long time, I persisted in the belief that there must be other authors like Dorothy Dunnett out there, I just hadn’t discovered them yet. It took me years to realise that she was unique, and that there are very few, if any, historical novelists who combine wise, witty and beautiful writing, vivid description, accurate research, vibrant characterisation and intricate plotting into a coherent, compelling whole.


For nearly twenty years after I first read The Game of Kings, I was on my own with Dorothy Dunnett. I had tried to interest my mother, but she preferred more straightforward novels. ‘Oh, isn’t that the one about the Scotsman who had trouble with his family?’ she famously commented. But to my delight I eventually discovered, through a new friend who turned out to be also a fan, that there was a huge international community of Dunnett afficionados, passionate, erudite, and full of theories about the numerous ambiguities and mysteries that had enthralled me when I was reading the books.


More than sixty years after the first was published, and after twenty-two novels – six of The Lymond Chronicles, eight in The House of Niccolò (set in the 15th century), seven Johnson Johnsons (modern thrillers), and King Hereafter, about the historical Macbeth, which many consider to be her masterpiece – people all over the world are still debating, online and through the pages of Whispering Gallery, the Dorothy Dunnett Society magazine, as well as at regular Gatherings, the motivations of various characters, the many mysteries and ambiguities, and the thorny question of How Much Is True (almost always, a lot more than you’d realise). You think everything is clear, then you realise it isn’t. That there are gaps in your knowledge, vital facts which the author knows, and which you don’t. All around, there are clues and hints, but you have to do a lot of the work yourself, and you have to pay attention (which is why just one reading isn’t enough, there are always bits you previously missed). And it’s those ambiguities that fuel our continued fascination, and which will keep people reading Dunnett long into the future.


Pam Thomas is an author of historical fiction, writing under the name Pamela Belle.  Her books include Wintercombe (1988), the first in a series set during the English Civil War, available in print and Kindle editions.

Patricia Bracewell, author of Shadow on the Crown
It must have been more than 30 years ago that I fell in love with Dorothy Dunnett’s daring, witty, and mesmerizing Francis Crawford of Lymond. Some 10 years later my ardor for her clever Renaissance Scotsman was challenged when I was introduced to her equally captivating Nicholas, the brilliant hero of her House of Niccolò series. But I wasn’t dazzled just by Dunnett’s heroes. Oh no. I was drawn to her fascinating heroines as well, and to the vivid, complicated, and breathtaking Renaissance world that she recreated on every single page. Dorothy Dunnett was a storyteller extraordinaire. Each one of her many books remains a tour de force—historical fiction at its very best, to be savored again and again.”
Elizabeth Chadwick, author of the Eleanor of Aquitaine series
Photo of the author Elizabeth Chadwick

When I was fourteen, I graduated to the adult section of our public library and immediately began my relationship with Dorothy Dunnett. It wasn’t love at first encounter, rather a meeting of polite strangers. crossing paths and moving on.


I was entitled to borrow six books at a time and being a fast, voracious reader, devoured three books a week. I had a system. I would choose a couple by favourite authors and read them first – perhaps a Mary Stewart or a Norah Lofts. Another couple would be selected because I was drawn to the cover, the title, or the blurb. I might find books on the returns trolley which often carried interesting titles waiting to be re-shelved. I always chose my sixth book alphabetically just to surprise myself. I’d take one from the A shelf one week, a B the next, a C the next and so on.


I discovered Dorothy Dunnett as my sixth book on the ‘D’ week and it was Pawn in Frankincense. I was a mature reader for my years, but this was the fourth book in a complex series and it was like reading a foreign language. I returned it to the library unread. Nevertheless, the bug had bitten me. Although I wasn’t ready for Dorothy Dunnett then, and moreover had walked through the wrong door, I continued to borrow her books at regular intervals, frustrated, but inexorably drawn. The Game of Kings, first in the series, remained elusive. It was always out on loan.


In my late teens I finally obtained The Game of Kings and by this time had acquired an ‘A’ level in English literature and had begun to write historical fiction for my own pleasure. Borrowing The Game of Kings coincided with a bout of flu, and while on the mend, recuperating in bed, I picked up The Game of Kings and this time, it was different. It was like being given the key to a wonderful garden. Finally, I had found the right door and in that moment, sitting up in bed propped up on pillows, Lemsip in hand, I experienced an epiphany. Suddenly the key clicked in the lock and I understood when I had not understood before.


Many of the metaphors and references went right over my head I admit, but I absorbed the gist, and it no longer mattered because I had entered a different, magical reality. The characters this time, sprang from book to mind to physical existence, and stood before me, every one of them possessed of a vibrant, individual personality.


I read the novel at running pace, and then went back and read it again, and then again, savouring moments I had missed, the first time, loving every moment, and filled with anticipation of more to come.


I borrowed the rest of the series, reserving them this time, to read in order. I was hooked and even became a little obsessive – an addict. The more I read, the more I came to appreciate Dorothy Dunnett’s meticulous and copious research. Her use of language and her scope amazed me, as did her stunning ability to craft scenes, and engage the emotions of her reader, viscerally, and cerebrally. She could go from raucous and bawdy to delicate and ethereal in a single deft turn of phrase, while twisting the tale to the opposite of expectation.


I found myself thinking about the characters and situations as I went about my daily life, reliving the scenes in my mind’s eye. Sitting down to write my own work, I would ask myself ‘How would Dorothy Dunnett have approached this scene?’ She taught me to experiment and to make bigger, bolder leaps of the imagination. She taught me the unfettered pleasure of painting with words. Her prose always raised me up and inspired me. She was the master and I was the eager apprentice colouring in the corner while she created a glorious fresco. If a Dunnett novel was a song, it would be Bohemian Rhapsody.


As a young adult and then young married woman bringing up children and paying the mortgage, money was tight, but I scrimped and saved, and requested the books for birthday and Christmas gifts until I had the full set. I read and re-read them, always finding moments I had missed, and each time, I came to a new level of understanding. One of the defining factors of an exceptional work is that there is always more to discover no matter how many times you go back.


By the time I was half way through the new House of Niccolò series, I had become a published author, and was freshly overwhelmed in an ecstatic way by the Renaissance world Dunnett had created. I was awed by the breadth and scope of her research, and her ability to bring a new cast of characters to life on a broad sweep of canvas and yet in minute and exquisite detail. That takes genius. Once you ‘get’ Dunnett, nothing else comes close. She occupies her own pinnacle.


I confess I have yet to read all of her works. Her lighter detective series remains to be explored and I have yet to read what is often cited as her greatest work, King Hereafter. It is on my bedside book pile, and I look forward to taking another key and opening the door into an unexplored area of the glorious Dunnett garden.


I am sometimes asked which is my favourite Dunnett book or scene, but I honestly do not have one because all of it is magnificent and memorable for its own reason. But if there is a defining moment when I became a reader forever, it was the sword fight between the Crawford brothers, Francis and Richard in The Game of Kings.


Everything that is Dunnett is encapsulated in that scene – the emotion, the drama and tension, the twist, the deep research, all working in merciless tandem to keep the reader barely daring to continue, but compelled and hungry for every crafted cutting-edge word and not just wanting, but needing more. Always more. You don’t just read Dorothy Dunnett once, you read her forever.


Elizabeth Chadwick is an award winning best-selling author of historical fiction, including A Marriage of Lions (2021) out now from Sphere Books. She lives in the UK. More at

Chelsea Clinton, writer and health advocate

Pictured: Chelsea Clinton, Special Correspondent, NBC News. Photo by Peter Kramer/NBC

I read Dorothy Dunnett’s King Hereafter on a summer camping trip while I was in high school and was riveted, reading late into the night while being mindful my flashlight might run out of batteries at any moment. A few years later, I picked up Dorothy Dunnett’s Lymond Chronicles in a bookshop and fell happily and completely into the world of Francis Lymond. I’ve read the full six-volume series three times and a few of the books even more.


Where else can a reader traverse the Renaissance – its geography, art, music, literature and most of all, its political intrigues –meeting Mary, Queen of Scots, Queen Elizabeth, Ivan the Terrible, and Sulieman the Magnificent along the way? Dunnett’s mastery is to invite you into Lymond’s lavish world while simultaneously weaving a grand story of the many different ways we love – with friends, lovers, parents, children, even at times antagonists, and hopefully, ourselves. I cannot wait until my children are old enough for us to read these books together.

Deborah Harkness, author of the All Souls trilogy
I ADORE Dorothy Dunnett and as I type I’m looking at my full set of novels on the “precious items” shelf in my office.


I bought the entire Lymond Chronicles between 8/15/1986 and 8/26/1986. I bought the first one to take on my very first business trip on the recommendation of my undergraduate honors thesis advisers. I devoured it in two days, and had to roam the bookstores of Colorado in search of Volume II. Having learned my lesson, I bought all the rest of them the moment I got back home so I wouldn’t be caught short during an all-night reading binge.


“Lymond is back.” I remember the tingle of excitement I got reading that first line of The Game of Kings. Then, I didn’t know who Lymond was, or why he was important, or where he had been—I just knew I had to hear more. And I did, devouring all fourteen volumes of my favorite historical series. I also remember the sense of satisfaction when I read the last line of Gemini: “Here endis the buke of the ches.” Those two lines capture Dunnett’s ability to control her story, plot, and characters.


As a budding historian, I was thrilled with the inside jokes and snatches of song and phrases in foreign tongues, intent on the easter eggs I needed to track down, and awestruck by Dunnett’s mastery of what was happening across Europe during a critical and complicated moment in the past. She plunged you into the sixteenth and fifteenth centuries without apology or coddling, and you wanted to swim in it forever. Dunnett’s work was—and remains—utterly immersive. When reading it, one is swept away on a magic carpet stitched with painstaking care and incredible attention to detail, stopping in Scotland and Venice, Bruges and Rhodes. Her mind was formidable, and her insights into the human experience, refracted through the lens of history, are nothing short of breathtaking.


I wouldn’t be a historian or a novelist were it not for Dorothy Dunnett’s magical ability to interweave fact and fiction.

Gwyneth Hughes, documentary director and screenwriter

A big fat shabby old paperback plopped onto my desk. I eyed it suspiciously. The first of a series of six historical novels, sporting a terrible cover, with some daft female swooning in the arms of a blond twit in tights. I’m secretly more of a science fiction nut, and besides, I was right in the middle of dramatising Thackeray’s Vanity Fair for television. So I really wasn’t sure there was room in my head for another romantic foray into the past.


I started reading. There was a shipwreck. A cheetah, and a hare. Some young chaps in doublets jumping about the rooftops, apparently inventing parkour. I hadn’t got the first idea what was going on. Just when I was about to give up, I realized this wasn’t actually Book One… And that’s how I finally came to put Queen’s Play temporarily aside, to find and read The Game of Kings, and then all the rest of them, in the right order, without interruption, days of my life disappearing into Lymond land. There were still stretches where I had no idea what was going on, but who cares? I was happy to follow Dorothy obediently, through those dark thickets of plot, to the sunlit glades where her impossibly vivid heroes and villains do battle. Bliss.

KC Julius, author of the Drinnglennin Chronicles

Where do I begin to express how much the writing of Dorothy Dunnett has been interwoven into my life? As my 70th birthday approaches (looms!) in November 2022, my love affair with Dunnett’s work now spans nearly six decades. My father introduced me, a voracious teenage reader, to The Lymond Chronicles in the last ’60s. I was swiftly swept into Francis Crawford’s exciting, dangerous world, and very soon thereafter, seduced by the man himself. But even more than those audacious dimples, it’s been Lady Dunnett’s writing, her “painter’s eye,” that has stood the test of time, enticing me back over and over again to her vividly depicted tale and the delectable descriptions of people and places, such as this gem from Queen’s Play:


“Each in its nest of gauze and gilt thread, of tissue and taffeta, swathed in silver and satin, in velvet and white fur sugared with diamonds, each face painted, each brow plucked, hair hidden by sparkling hair of raw silk, the well-born of France sat in waxlight and flowers like half a hundred candied sweets in a basket. Last at the last table, soggy gristle next the sugar plums, sat Thady Boy Ballagh.”


Or this visual aria from Race of Scorpions:


“The pods of the carob trees dangled, black and leaking rank gum, ripe for cropping. There were pomegranates in baskets and gourds drying on roof-tops. In every village, it seemed, a donkey circled its trough of crushed olives, and the press thudded down, helped by many brown arms, as the mash yielded its oozings through wicker. Where the scent of orange had deadened the senses in March, the resinous odour of olives weighed down the humid, hot air of this journey. Instead of flower-infused silence, the air was filled with the clamour of autumn; the cries, the chaffing, the folk-songs, the team-songs of the villages; the chinking of blades; the rumble of flint-studded boards driven over the threshing ground. The objecting bray of working donkeys. The shuddering tramp of the oxen spinning the Persian wheels set over every deep well, so that the jars came up, roped with pomegranate wood withies, and tossed their icy water into the stone channels that fed the fields and the housewife’s wood buckets. Vines and almonds, lemons and oranges, pomegranates and sugar.”


And then, of course, there is the romance between my favourite characters, one of the greatest love stories ever told. How could anyone fail to fall under its alluring spell?


“On that, his hands locked, imprisoning them both. He held back one moment longer. Then he slid his fingers into her hair and bending his head, sought her mouth as a man withered by sun might seek water.”


Even now, after so many re-readings, my pulse quickens.


Like many writers, Dorothy Dunnett has been my inspiration. Because I lack her extensive scholarship, my books are set in a fantasy world, but anyone familiar with Lymond’s exploits will find close parallels in the historical and geographical settings, glimpse both Francis Crawford and Nicholas de Fleury in Borne, one of my protagonists, and shades of Phillipa in Maura, another. I am, and will always be, deeply grateful for this singular author’s works, and the true pleasure, over many years, they have given me and so many others.

Guy Gavriel Kay, author and keynote speaker @ DD Centenary Gathering 2023

I actually have a meet-cute story about the first time I did meet Dorothy. But it is better told than typed so I will likely share it during my speech at the Gathering. I can say that from then, and through many other encounters, she was wonderful in person, not just in print. That isn’t a given, and it was deeply rewarding.

Ellen Kushner, author of Swordspoint

Without Dorothy Dunnett, I would never have written my first novel, or published my first short story. Both were written in conversation with – maybe even to counter, a little – the bodyslam that the Lymond Chronicles had dealt me since I’d begun on The Game of Kings at university a few years previous.


Then and now, I refer to the Lymond Chronicles as “Dorothy Dunnett’s Six-Volume School for Young Authors.” As I read the series, and she put me through the wringer with each book, I became obsessed with her technique. I knew she was pulling all sorts of tricks – but how? How?? I was an unsuccessful English Literature student. Writing papers on the virtues of Wordsworth’s poetry was not for me: What was the point? But considering the words of a living writer with an eye to learning to improve my own writing, that made sense. It was useful. It gave my literary teeth something to chew on – to suck out the juices, to devour.


And so my novel, Swordspoint: a Melodrama of Manners (London: Allen & Unwin, 1987 etc.), was an attempt to engage the reader utterly with the affairs of a charismatic yet villainous couple, while keeping the narrative as spare and devious as possible. The story (which I was writing at the same time, but managed to finish and publish much sooner), “The Unicorn Masque,” (in Elsewhere, New York: Ace Books, 1981) is about an altogether too perfect, too brilliant, too attractive deadly lutenist courtier (who is secretly a woman, transformed).


Dorothy Dunnett is a part of my literary DNA. I will never get her out of my system now. And I never want to.

Val McDermid, fellow Scot and crime writer

I first encountered Dorothy Dunnett via the Lymond Chronicles just down the road from her birthplace in Kirkcaldy Central Library. I was a voracious reader and whenever I found a novel that captured my imagination, I wanted more. So in my early teens, I drank in the world of Francis Lymond, loving the atmosphere and the loving detail of the setting, and fascinated by the twists and turns of Lymond’s life and relationships. Now readers are cleaving to period narratives produced by such writers as Hilary Mantel and Maggie O’Farrell, surely it’s only a matter of time before Dorothy Dunnett is rediscovered by a wider audience?


Val McDermid is the author of Karen Pirie and the Wire in the Blood novels. More at

Cheryl Sawyer, author of The King's Shadow
I first encountered The Game of Kings in my grammar-school library in the mid-1960s, and ever since that enthralling experience I have considered her a master of her genre. I loved historical novels from childhood, my early favourites being writers such as Geoffrey Trease, Henry Treece, Rosemary Sutcliff and Barbara Leonie Picard, and Olivia FitzRoy, who wrote a series beginning with time travel to the Battle of Culloden, perhaps an influential precursor to the late efforts of Diana Gabaldon. My reading led on of course to romps such as The Scarlet Pimpernel and These Old Shades and classics like those of Charles Kingsley, Alexandre Dumas, Robert Louis Stevenson and Walter Scott. Since then I have progressively bought, devoured and reread all her books, I’ve had the privilege of corresponding with her, I met her on her tour of Australia in 2000 and I can truthfully say that she has drunk my whiskey—a gracious concession on her part, as I can’t claim it was of the best—and I continue to see her as a master, for many reasons.


One reason lies in a comparison between her work and other greats of the genre, and I believe it’s fair to say that her stories are even more romantic than Stevenson’s and she has a more brilliant grasp of history than Walter Scott. And in fiction she has done as much to throw accurate and abundant light on Scottish history as either of these. I for one, a New Zealander who has lived, worked and studied in Britain and Europe, can still say that my knowledge of and fondness for Scotland derives principally from the rich and compelling pictures of her homeland that Dorothy Dunnett offers us in her novels. After she read aloud from Queen’s Play in a Sydney bookstore, I mentioned this and said that her books offer a stimulating portrait of Scotland as a nation on the world stage. I asked her if this had been one of her aims in writing the Lymond Chronicle and whether she felt those books might have influenced the devolution movement in Scotland today. She was genuinely surprised by the question! I don’t think that even then she realised how indelibly her pride in her country informed her books, nor what a gift to the nation they remain.


On those who love her work, her influence is very strong. I thought I could see Dunnett-like hints in a certain scene in Keri Hulme’s great novel, The Bone People, and Keri herself acknowledged to me her keen admiration of the Lymond Chronicle. Long after the Christchurch earthquake of 2011 I was speaking to a fellow publisher whose complete sets of her novels had been looted from his library when his house was destroyed. He was still mourning the loss, so at once I mailed him my treasured, signed copy of Gemini, knowing how much that would mean to him. From childhood I wanted to write novels, but it was not until I was in my thirties that I realised my drive was actually to write historical fiction. Her books had so broadened and illuminated the genre that I felt them as an inspiration. When my first novel was published in 1998 I sent her a copy and she kindly replied, with the warmth, the sharp perceptions and tiny handwriting familiar to thousands of admirers. I am fond of parody and in my second novel, Rebel, I included a scene, set at midnight on the Delaware, that was written as an extravagant homage to her. I had the courage to send her the book but never the impudence to ask whether she recognised the scene.


At the bookstore in Sydney she told her audience that there is a sly joke running through the Lymond Chronicles, too, and mentioned that no one had as yet found it out. My guess is that this is a joke of allusion, in her case to film. There are aspects of Lymond’s appearance and behaviour that to me recall some of the attributes of Peter O’Toole in different roles, and at least two of the thousands of incidents in the Lymond Chronicle seem artfully written to match scenes from O’Toole movies. One is the meeting of Henry II and Thomas Becket on a beach in France (Becket) and the other is the prostration of T.E. Lawrence after he has been flogged by the Turkish Bey (Lawrence of Arabia). For all I know, others may have uncovered the rest of the scenes embedded in her sparkling and gloriously inventive texts—or solved the puzzle in a better way than mine.


Another reason to admire and enjoy Dunnett’s work is the deep penetration of her research, the command of several languages that allowed her to pursue it with accuracy, and her skill in selecting and organising her material so that it flows effortlessly into the narrative and makes whole worlds spring into life. In conversation she told me with relish about a trip to Iceland while researching a Niccolò novel, when she forced a terrified taxi driver far beyond his comfort zone over shaky and steamy portions of the earth’s crust to get next to a live volcano. Back in the foyer of the Reykjavik hotel, passenger and driver alarmed patrons by embracing in relief at their escape. She laughed as she spoke of it, with head thrown back in her characteristic manner. In another mood, on an ABC radio program I heard her speak with wistful regret about not being able to drive to Timbuktu while on a research trip to North Africa, because the dangers at the time were too great. In spirit and in fact, I can’t help thinking of her as the Marco Polo of the historical novel.


The undying reason to admire her novels is of course the writing itself. I am sure contributions to the centenary celebrations will do justice to her splendidly original characterisations, her mesmerising prose, the sensuality of her descriptions, her mischievous humour, the incomparable richness of her vocabulary, the emotional complexity and dramatic effects in every scene she drew for us, the majestic power of her storytelling. I honour her memory and, most of all, her work—what an intellect, what a talent, what skills she employed, extending to music, painting and all the vital realms of her country’s culture. A truly Renaissance woman.

Cheryl Sawyer is the author of The King’s Shadow, Rebel and many others. More at

Alison Weir, author of the Six Tudor Queens series
Dorothy Dunnett was one of our finest historical novelists and deserves to be better recognised and celebrated.


Learning from the Maestra

All The Writers You Love Probably Love Dorothy Dunnett, by Alaya Dawn Johnson, December 2014.

Writing Epic Fantasy the Historical Fiction Way: Lessons from Dorothy Dunnett’s The Game of Kings, by Marie Brennan, August 2017.