I'm still a bit numb of emotions after finishing Lymond's last volume last night .. but I thought it definitely deserved a post of its own, so here it is.
Having packed vol. III (The disorderly knights) and IV (Pawn in Frankincense) to read during my vacation, I had thought that would be enough to keep me going between all the sightseeing but somehow I managed to finish them off when we reached Vienna ... Big mistake, I should've taken vol. V as well (I know T., you warned me to take it, but I didn't listen .. next time I'll know better) because then I was really curious to know what would happen next.
After France (that's vol. II), Lymond goes to Malta where he meets his greatest enemy, finds out he has a son, who unfortunately falls in the hands of the said enemy. Then off he goes to Istambul in search of the child, discovers he has a step sister, and that there are two children that are being pursued although only one is his and the other is the son of the enemy, of course (but no one knows which one is which). Among all this we follow Philippa Sommerville, a friend of Lymond's family, who went after him to be able to take care of the child, and ends up in the seraglio of the Sultan Suleiman. Is this too confusing ? Trust me, the actual plots and twists will keep you guessing till the end. After they're all released from Istambul, that's where vol. IV finishes ...
So the first thing I did after we got home from vacation (apart from sleeping through the weekend to recover from all the walking), I had to start vol.V, which in great part takes place in Russia, in the court of tsar Ivan. Philippa's story continues separately, in the court of Queen Mary, and was actually the more interesting of the two. I have to say that I didn't quite see how Lymond and Philippa were going to end up together (because of course, it's quite apparent at one point that they should...), but then we only learn Lymond's true age and other family secrets in this final part. The final volume, Checkmate, the most romantic and also the most dramatic of them all, delivers a brilliant finale to this whole saga ... and, I'm afraid, it has also left me spoiled to any other historical novels that may follow.
I might try the Niccolo series next, hopefully it comes close to being just as good, but somehow I can't conceive of any better :-)