This post is a placeholder for spoilery discussion of the first book House of Niccolo. Spoilers for the whole book (eventually) in the comments.
Wheee!! Yes, we should cut and paste. But you should finish book first! What about the masquerade though?! The showdown with Jordan?! The marriage to Marian?! Eeee!
I have lots of plans for this comm. *nods* Just as soon as I have a) my brain back, b) time.
Yay! *bounces* By the end of 'Rising' so much has happened and there have been so many reveals that it's staggering. And then there are SEVEN MORE BOOKS and the reveals keep coming until the LAST PAGE.
I'm going to venture a guess that this is very important and I'm very glad of this complexity.
Hee! Yes. ;-)
Tobias is too certain he'll mostly be able to figure out Nicholas' moves
Mmm, you're making me really think/wonder about why I gravitated towards Tobias a little more than you. Certainly I did enjoy Julius, for sure--I think he carries the first book along and allows the reader a sympathetic viewpoint. But I liked Tobie's scientific determination and his curiosity and while I always thought he was naive to think he'll get a tab on Nicholas, I did think he might be a path 'in' to his psyche.
I adore their dynamic, to be sure. At the very least, Julius isn't someone Nicholas needs to care for. Rather the other way 'round
Mmm, great observation!
how glad was I with Claes' admissions to Marian about the cannon and other incidents. Hint: Very glad;)
Yup, I really didn't like Claes very much, but I found him very sympathetic with Marian. Intellectually I kept thinking he was manipulating her, but emotionally it felt like he really loved and respected her--the fact that he admitted so much to her seemed really significant.
I liked that Nicholas' youth was evident in places and that his perfect façade started crumbling. The first time he lost his temper after Katelina's ruse, I cheered!
*nods* It's such a relief, isn't it?! Because you KNOW he's the all-important character, but he's soooo opaque and caricature-like to begin with. He appears to have the most serene, implacable temperament ever. So when you see that he doesn't, it's wonderful! His youth does show, most definitely.
What to say about N's reaction to Felix' death? It was perfectly executed by Dunnett. Felix's (and Esota's and Jaak's et al) life was the cost of getting everything he wanted.
*nods* Quite the killer blow. I'm sorry you were spoiled for it. However, as you said, Jaak was not a likeable character, and Felix, I found, was a character I could live without--while still powerful enough a blow to feel that yes, Nicholas was seriously scarred by this.
Don't worry--I never saw the Machiavellian plan coming either! And I felt really stupid for having missed 'vander Poele' too. ;-) But I'm yet to meet a reader who clues to all Dunnett's tricks, so I take comfort in that.
Why are cannons given female names?
Katelina's choices! Oh, the HUGE ANGST! (I did warn you.) It's melodrama to the max, but I was really caught up in it, I confess. We definitely need to discuss Katelina. *nods*
Hee! Autruche! Hee!
Eee! It is indeed delightful to watch you freak out. I love watching first-time Dunnett readers. The delights on re-reading are quite different, though wonderful in their own way.
There was a line a some point before N and she become lovers where she ponders the fact that she voluntarily adopted the 'child's' role vis-à-vis N and that that must now change. Awesome and so very true to choice processes as lived in RL, regardless of the era and of the gender of the party.
*nods* Mm, I love that line! And the relationship between Marian and Claes was such a unique one--I think that was one of the big hook-ins for me in the first book. While I loved the melodrama of Claes/Katelina, the fact that there was this other more complex (arguably) relationship in the picture fascinated me.
There's no awkwardness, therefore, when we catch up with characters whom we haven't seen for 150 pages. They've been kept alive because they are referred to, of course, but also because there's an entire continent of activity buzzing in the background!
Yes! For that alone she should be more popular than she is. The way she weaves this tapestry of characters is incredible to me.
N is not a transparent hero; neither his MO nor his feelings are entirely sympathetic, even when his story leads you to want to be.
Yes! That's it exactly. You start to want his story to be sympathetic and yet it's patently not. There is, of course, a lot more to be revealed (as I'm sure you can guess), and 'reading' N. the character is one of the things I love best about the series--as I'm sure you've seen from the first book, he is 'read' differently by different characters and the reader's perspective shifts over time. Of course N. himself plays with identity in his shifting, evolving name as well!
As for the supporting cast--yes, I totally agree! They flesh out the world very well. I'm curious to hear what you thought of the young girls. I was particularly amused by Gelis on first reading, and thought that Tilde had potential. Catherine just annoued me.
Claes' picnic/chess match with the future Louis XI!
Mmm it was a great section wasn't it? All that political intrigue and code-breaking is so sexy! ;-) It's also a great scene for revealing how good Claes is at playing a role for others. The trip over the Alps was revealing about Claes too.
One thing I didn't fully understand was how exactly Nicholas interpreted all that ostrich business, the letter forwarded by him by Geilis and K. words in the kerk. Was she really talking about Jordan when she was referring to the ostrich?
I was confused on first-reading too. I felt I didn't know N. well enough to understand what his feelings were there. Confusion didn't hamper my enjoyment of subsequent events though--you'll come back to it in your mind once you've read more, I suspect.
I love that I have a doubt about K.'s true motives. I'm almost certain of her real allegiances and that what she's done is actually the best guarantee of safeguarding, if not N., at least the child,
Again, your response is very similar to mine--there was still that slight opacity where K. is concerned.
WHY did 'the Greek with the wooden leg' start Nicholas down this path?!?
Hee! That damn Greek! So funny!
d Jordan sitting in that bloody chair and we, the readers, actually in Nicholas' thoughts in that momen Yes!!
My Julius was so great there, wasn't he? (I'm very possessive of him;) Does Julius suspect about N. and K.'s liaison. N. wasn't exactly stealthy about her summons...
He was! And that's a very good question. It's unclear exactly how much Julius knows at the end of this book, despite the fact that we see events through his eyes quite a lot in this novel. One thing I love about Dunnett's writing is that she uses different povs without fully revealing everyone's secrets. We can be in N's pov occasionally but all we get is little snippets of his true feelings and thoughts--like a breadcrumb trail. You never know for sure the extent of any of the characters' knowledge.
in many ways it's the 'simplest' connection Nicholas has (I need to think about this more...).
I think he comes across as most genuine in that relationship? Strangely enough!
I agree that Claes/Katelina is very melodramatic. So much so in fact, that I'm standing back from them a bit.
yes! I felt the same way. I worried a little about that on first read, but my fears were completely unfounded. Trust in the Niccolo process!
I'm also intrigued about where he acquired all this knowledge. I suppose we must assume that, like with Lymond, there's a genetic component to his genius. Hee!
Yes, I think that we do have to assume that. Dunnett's rather fond of that idea. ;-)