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:
- Badass Bookworm: Lymond, to an almost absurd degree. Also St Mary's, his mercenary troop that consists of lawyers, architects and painters.
- Big, Screwed-Up Family: The Crawford family tree may not be hugely long, but boy is it tangled.
- 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.
- Dating Catwoman: Lymond and Güzel, although he didn't so much date her as was blackmailed into bed with her.
- Defeat Equals Friendship: a partial example, although it's much more complicated than that, occurs when Lymond beats Vishnevetsky in a wrestling match.
- 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.
- 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, Mary Tudor; Elizabeth I,...
- Important Haircut: Lymond, after he sells his body to Aga Morat in Pawn in Frankincense.
- Let Them Die Happy: Christian Stewart in The Game of Kings. She is mortally injured trying to smuggle 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.
- 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.
- The Killer Was Lefthanded: Subverted to reveal the murderer of Will Scott.
- 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.