The Lymond Chronicles:
-- Vol. 3 --
The Disorderly Knights

Gabriel/Cosmè Tura: Annunziazione
"... The little fire had burned up. It flickered, hiding revealing the intent faces of the men standing about the dim hall; it stencilled in long rosy lines the person of Lymond, standing considering in front of it, and fell full on the face of Gabriel, sitting rigid in the big chair before him. And again, Lymond refused the challenge: refused as so often in Malta to show what lay under the armour. Instead he said: "We are being inprecise in our term, are we not? We are in free association, you and I. I can neither release you nor hold you. The only condition I have made applies to all, not to the knights only. I lead. You may argue gold into radishes over how, where and why I lead, but the final authority must be mine. Two masters we cannot have."
The carrying voice of Alec Guthrie said unexpectedly: "But as Sir Graham has already pointed out, every practising Christian must serve to masters."
"My God... I know it," said Lymond. "My nerves are on the edge like a Dublin butcher over the conservation as it is. The situation is that Sir Graham's other Master and I are in perfect accord: whereas, being human, I am not convinced that Sir Graham and I should necessarily be. ..."
Francis Crawford of Lymond has come as a neutral observer in French service to Malta, the fortress of the Knights of St John in the Mediterranean. A Turkish invasion looms, but the Knights of Malta are divided among themselves. The parties of the Spanish and French knights are no longer pursuing the interests of the Order, but of their homelands, promoting their own candidates to succeed the aging Grand Master Juan de Homedés as the head of the Order.
Lymond gets caught in the crossfire. Disillusioned, he returns to Scotland to establish on his property of St Mary's his own powerful private army, able to operate independently of political interests. But then he meets with a much greater challenge than the Turkish fleet.

In the third book of The Lymond Chronicles, Dunnett sends her readers from Scotland to Malta and back. And the parallels she draws between the battles of the Knights of St. John against the Islamic troops and those of the Scottish clans against each other are not without deliberate purpose. In both conflicts, faith and loyalty are abused for selfish purposes.
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