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I started reading the Lymond books again. I say “started again,” because I read the first two last year, and then decided I did not have the patience for the plot and the shenanigans and Lymond never, you know, stuttering, or conjugating a Latin verb wrong, or anything.

But recently my body has started physically rejecting books where someone has to save the whole universe by being nicer than everyone. By this I mean that I toss the books down on the floor and sit irritatedly fiddling with my hat for twenty minutes, without any conscious awareness of my own actions. Perhaps sleep deprivation and job applications are to blame. Perhaps soy cheese.

But this criteria, in any case, appears to disqualify most of my to-read pile, which due to my own emotional immaturity is saturated with just this type of scenario. Some people on my LiveJournal list are reading the Lymond series, and I thought that perhaps my system could handle a book about someone who only partly succeeds at saving relatively small numbers of people by being bitchier than everyone else. So I requested the rest of the series off of ILL to take home with me on break.

In summary: Lymond is a tool. It is a good thing he gets beat up so often, or no one would be able to stand him.

Also in summary: I keep staying up all night reading these -ing things.

The Disorderly Knights

In this book Lymond is not a good Christian, neither is most of the Order of Malta, and women are ravish’d.

Dunnett uses the brute force narrative-splurging method effectively to distract one from one’s instinctive crass suspicions. I immediately assumed that Joleta’s “mysterious illness” was a pregnancy – it would be in any other book – but eventually decided that I was wrong, just because no one else ever suspected anything for hundreds of pages, and because it would be in any other book and clearly Dunnett is not going to be so conventional.

I also initially decided that Gabriel must be evil – because everyone was praising him so much that he would be in any other book – but then, again, changed my mind when it never occurred to any of the other characters. I didn’t even get suspicious again when he was messing with Oonagh. I just thought he was a very sincere misogynist.

I was never, however, shaken from my belief that Gabriel was seriously and non-subtextually trying to get into Lymond’s pants, which just goes to show what slash does to your brain.

I’m kind of surprised that Richard hasn’t learned by now that Lymond is never really at fault in any insanely over-the-top-ridiculous compromising situation. Maybe he and Sybilla have some sort of contract where he is the designated credulous one.

I seriously thought Oonagh was going to escape, and was extremely pissed when she didn’t. I was most upset about Buccleuch dying, though. I mean, it wasn’t exactly avoidable, but still. (Why does the Firefox spellcheck recognize “Buccleuch”? Oh, wait, there it goes…)

In conclusion: Philippa.

Pawn in Frankincense

In this book Lymond is also not a good Muslim, neither are most of the Muslims, the ratio of unravish’d to ravish’d women is significantly better, Lymond’s relationship to his black subordinate is kind of patronizing, and babies get messed up just all the fuck over the place.

The thought looming largest in my mind at the end was, “Oh, man, there is no way Khaireddin wasn’t Lymond’s son. Dunnett is not going to pass up that opportunity.”

And really, I don’t think Gabriel would have been able to resist selling Lymond’s son into prostitution. Not even for a possible fucking-with-Lymond’s-head bonus. Gabriel is not subtle that way.

I wasn’t really expecting Oonagh to make it out alive, but I’d hoped she’d at least make it to the halfway point of book, or get a line or something. No. Damnit.

As opaque as Lymond’s motivations are to me, I have even more trouble with Philippa’s. Did she initially decide this because she actually cares about this kid she’s never seen, who might not even exist, and who is Lymond’s? Or is she doing it because it’s Lymond’s? (I don’t think so.) Or because she feels she needs to make up for stopping Lymond from killing Gabriel, either just to prove herself, or because she’s naturally overly responsible? Or because she now admires Lymond and wants to run around the world getting nobly beat up and making literary allusions about it just like him? Obviously at the end she’s gotten attached to Kuzum, but in spite of how much of the book is from her POV, I don’t think we get her initial motivation. It could plausibly be read as have been any of those or a combination thereof, but I feel like it should’ve been articulated better.

Guzel makes no sense to me at all. I sense that she is pretty cool. But I never have any idea what the hell she’s doing. Also, my poor grasp of geography and history means I’m confused by what race most of these people are but… somehow I didn’t realize for a while that she was actually white, and it made me wonder why all three of the Machiavellian manipulators of the middle east had to be white people?

Jerott, the Aga Morat, Mikal, etc – Hahaha this is even gayer than the last one.

The friggin’ prophecy, Marthe, Lymond’s parentage, and stuff – goddamnit Richard is not allowed to die. No. It is not permitted!

Otherwise I have no theories on that issue. I don’t remember enough of the early books to be sure of anything about Lymond’s family.

The first half or so of The Ringed Castle

I have no idea what the holy fuck is going on in Russia. I don’t care about any of this set of characters enough to try and figure out. Can we please get back to Philippa now? You know, where the plot we actually care about is occurring?

Don’t you dare kill Adam Blacklock. He’s sensitive. Leave him alone, you big bullies.

Lymond’s sex drive makes even less sense than his other motivations, but it’s especially random here. He and Guzel put off sleeping together until… Lymond is in charge of Russia? Being in charge of Russia is Guzel’s kink? Is it only Guzel’s kink, or does Lymond get off on it, too? I have no idea. This is both the most graphic sex scene and the most inexplicable relationship in the series thus far.

Also, Lymond is being voluntarily and (I think?) relatively non-angstily gay – but I think Venceslas is supposed to be like, twelve. Shouldn’t Lymond have a gigantic complex about that, after what happened to Khaireddin? Is Lymond even supposed to like sex? Why do the other characters talk about his sex life so much? (Aside from the obvious.) Why are most of his relationships either non-consensual, off-screen, or invented by other people? Has anyone written a paper about this? Did Dunnett Even Actually Know Where She Was Going With This One?: Lymond’s Confusing Sex Life and The Ringed Castle‘s Kinda-Weakness.