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Authors: Dorothy Dunnett

Caprice and Rondo

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Caprice and Rondo
Dorothy Dunnett was born in Dunfermline, Scotland. She is the author of the Francis Crawford of Lymond novels; the House of Niccolò novels; seven mysteries;
King Hereafter
, an epic novel about Macbeth; and the text of
The Scottish Highlands
, a book of photographs by David Paterson, on which she collaborated with her husband, Sir Alastair Dunnett. In 1992, Queen Elizabeth appointed her an Officer of the Order of the British Empire. Lady Dunnett died in 2001.
Books by
The Game of Kings
Queens’ Play
The Disorderly Knights
Pawn in Frankincense
The Ringed Castle
King Hereafter
Dolly and the Singing Bird (Rum Affair)
Dolly and the Cookie Bird (Ibiza Surprise)
Dolly and the Doctor Bird (Operation Nassau)
Dolly and the Starry Bird (Roman Nights)
Dolly and the Nanny Bird (Split Code)
Dolly and the Bird of Paradise (Tropical Issue)
Moroccan Traffic
Niccolò Rising
The Spring of the Ram
Race of Scorpions
Scales of Gold
The Unicorn Hunt
To Lie with Lions
Caprice and Rondo
The Scottish Highlands


Copyright © 1997 by Dorothy Dunnett
Introduction © 1998 by Judith Wilt

All rights reserved under International and Pan-American Copyright Conventions. Published in the United States by Vintage Books, a division of Random House, Inc., New York. Originally published in hardcover in Great Britain by Michael Joseph, Ltd., London, 1997, and in slightly different form in the United States by Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., New York, in 1998.

Vintage Books and colophon are registered trademarks of
Random House, Inc.

The Library of Congress has cataloged the Knopf edition as follows:
Dunnett Dorothy.
Caprice and Rondo / Dunnett. — 1st American ed.
p.   cm.—(The house of Niccolò)
I. Title. II. Series: Dunnett, Dorothy. House of Niccolò.
PR6054.U56C36   1998
823′.914—dc21   97-49458

eISBN: 978-0-307-76228-3

Author photograph © Alison Dunnett


For Annabella Charlotte Dunnett




About the Author

Other Books by This Author

Title Page






Part I: Polonaise

Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8
Chapter 9
Chapter 10
Chapter 11
Chapter 12

Part II: Circassian Circle

Chapter 13
Chapter 14
Chapter 15
Chapter 16
Chapter 17
Chapter 18
Chapter 19
Chapter 20
Chapter 21
Chapter 22
Chapter 23
Chapter 24
Chapter 25
Chapter 26

Part III: Polovtsian Dances

Chapter 27
Chapter 28
Chapter 29
Chapter 30
Chapter 31
Chapter 32
Chapter 33
Chapter 34
Chapter 35
Chapter 36
Chapter 37

Part IV: Reprise

Chapter 38
Chapter 39
Chapter 40
Chapter 41
Chapter 42
Chapter 43
Chapter 44


The House of Niccolò

When my chronicle of Francis Crawford of Lymond ended, it seemed to me that there was something still to be told of his heritage: about the genetic lottery, as well as the turmoil of trials and experience which, put together, could bring such a man into being.

The House of Niccolò
, in all its volumes, deals with the forerunner without whom Lymond would not have existed: the unknown who fought his way to the high ground that Francis Crawford would occupy, and held it for him. It is fiction, but the setting at least is very real.

The man I have called Nicholas de Fleury lived in the mid-fifteenth century, three generations before Francis Crawford, and was reared as an artisan, his gifts and his burdens concealed beneath an artless manner and a joyous, sensuous personality. But he was also born at the cutting edge of the European Renaissance, which Lymond was to exploit at its zenith—the explosion of exploration and trade, high art and political duplicity, personal chivalry and violent warfare in which a young man with a genius for organization and numbers might find himself trusted by princes, loved by kings, and sought in marriage and out of it by clever women bent on power, or wealth, or revenge—or sometimes simply from fondness.

There are, of course, echoes of the present time. Trade and war don’t change much down through the centuries: today’s new multimillionaires had their counterparts in the entrepreneurs of few antecedents who evolved the first banking systems for the Medici; who developed the ruthless network of trade that ran from Scotland, Flanders, and Italy to the furthest reaches of the Mediterranean and the Baltic, and ventured from Iceland to Persia, from Muscovy to the deserts of Africa.

Scotland is important to this chronicle, as it was to Francis Crawford. Here, the young Queen of Scots is a thirteen-year-old Scandinavian, and her husband’s family are virtually children. This, framed in glorious times, is the story of the difficult, hesitant progress of a small nation, as well as that of a singular man.

Dorothy Dunnett
Edinburgh, 1998


November 1473 – January 1477
(Those marked
are recorded in history)


England: King Edward IV, House of York
Scotland: King James III, House of Stewart
BOOK: Caprice and Rondo
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