Dorothy Dunnett has written one of the most elegantly attired and excitingly conceived historical novels of the season. This long and lively chronicle of mid-sixteenth century Scotland runs the gamut of adventure and intrigue in the manner of a clever chess game, and she has been extremely generous with plot, sub-plots and a whole array of colorful subsidiary characters. However, while her style never permits these virtues to become intractable, the events themselves sometimes overpower the sheer story-telling. Set against that moment in history when Mary Queen of Scots was only a child and her throne the target of both English and French machinations, the story here tells how Lymond, supposedly a double-dealing rogue, defends Scotland through a series of stunning ruses, raids and reprisals as they occur at Heriot, Hume, Carlisle and Dumbarton. The drama is heightened by Lymond's relationship with his older Baron brother, who regards him as a traitor and the seducer of his wife, and in Lymond's romantic activities with other women. The confrontation scene between the two brothers towards the close of the book, and Lymond's treason trial, are gripping and psychologically rewarding. It is a passionate, panoramic, suavely engineered tale which brings a spirited past to life con brio.