A series of period novels by Dorothy Dunnett set in sixteenth century Europe centering on a family of landed gentry in from the Scottish lowlands. The central character is one Francis Crawford of Lymond, a Renaissance man and reluctant, but brilliant, player in the power politics of the time.
This series provides examples of:
- Always Someone Better
- Anyone Can Die
- Badass Bookworm: Lymond, to an almost absurd degree. Also St Mary's, his mercenary troop that consists of lawyers, architects and painters.
- Bathe Her and Bring Her to Me: Philippa and Gabriel in Pawn in Frankincense.
- Becoming the Mask: Lymond as Thady Boy Ballagh.
- Big Screwed-Up Family: The Crawford family tree may not be hugely long, but boy is it tangled.
- Cain and Abel: Lymond and Richard, initially.
- Chess Master: Lymond and Gabriel. The culmination of this is one of the most intense chess games in literature. Also Güzel, one of the instigators of the chess game and arguably better at using people as pawns than anyone else in the series.
- Chess Motifs: The books are called The Game of Kings, Queen's Play, The Disorderly Knights, Pawn in Frankincense, The Ringed Castle, and Checkmate. In some cases, chapters are named after particular chess moves, and chess becomes a more important theme as the series continues.
- Cloak & Dagger
- Clear My Name: the central plot of The Game of Kings.
- Dating Catwoman: Lymond and Güzel, although he didn't so much date her as was blackmailed into bed with her.
- Deadly Decadent Court: Particularly of France and in Istanbul.
- Deadpan Snarker: Lymond, Marte.
- Death Seeker
- Defeat Equals Friendship: a partial example, although it's much more complicated than that, occurs when Lymond beats Vishnevetsky in a wrestling match.
- Even the Guys Want Him
- Every Proper Lady Should Curtsy: Philippa.
Then, holding the child tightly by one hand, she followed, shakily enough, Kate's universal dictum. When in doubt, curtsy.
- Frame Up
- Guile Hero
- Heroic BSOD
- Historical-Domain Character: Walter Scott of Buccleuch, Mary of Scotland, Mary of Guise, Catherine de'Medici, Henry II, Diane de Poitiers, Juan de Homedes y Coscon, Jean de la Vallette, Dragut Reis, Suleiman the Magnificent, Roxelana, Ivan the Terrible, Bloody Mary, Elizabeth I...
- Human Chess
- Important Haircut: Lymond, after he sells his body to Aga Morat in Pawn in Frankincense.
- Let Them Die Happy: Christian in The Game of Kings. She is mortally injured trying to smuggled papers to Lymond that would prove his innocence. He thanks her for them, and she dies. But Christian, who was blind, did not know that they were blank.
- Mary of Scotland: One of the more notable historical characters, as a child. Her mother, Mary of Guise, features more.
- Mother Russia Makes You Strong: Czar Ivan, as well as most other Russians in The Ringed Castle.
- Omni Glot: Lymond speaks English, Irish, Latin, Greek, French, Italian, Spanish, Turkish, Arabic, and Russian. Philippa is swiftly catching up with English, French, Greek, Turkish, Italian, Latin and Spanish.
- Posthumous Character: Lots.
- Plucky Girl: Philippa.
- Refuge in Audacity: Lymond's disguises.
- Sacrificial Lion
- Senseless Sacrifice: Christian in The Game of Kings, Oonagh in The Disorderly Knights.
- She Cleans Up Nicely: Philippa
- Silk Hiding Steel: Philippa develops into this.
- Smart People Play Chess
- The Chessmaster
- The Killer Was Lefthanded: Subverted to reveal the murderer of Will Scott.
- The Knights Hospitallers
- The Lady's Favour: Queen Mary's glove in Queen's Play.
- Women Are Wiser: To a certain extent. Kate, Sybil, and (sometimes) Phillippa, are a lot calmer, more considerate, and compassionate, than the menfolk.
- Would Hurt a Child
- You Can Barely Stand