The House of Niccolò
- An Introduction -

Scorpio/Detail Detail from Les Tres Riches Heures du Duc de Berry

Sagittarius/Detail from Les Tres Riches Heures du  Duc de Berry
The House of Niccolò begins in Bruges with the rise of a small dyeshop to become a prosperous banking and trading company, shortly before the discovery of America. In Europe a new age dawns as trading dynasties emerge in Italy and Northern Europe. The nobility participate in the profits of the wealthy burghers. With its neighbour France weakened in the Hundred Years' War, Burgundy rises to become a great power in Europe.

In every volume another commodity is traded: alum in Niccolò Rising, an army in The Spring of the Ram, sugar in Race of Scorpions.
But the most exotic merchandise going to and fro on the ships of the Charettys, the Fleurys and Dorias, the Medicis and Adornes, is not gold, sugar or slaves, but the information that will assure the value of these goods on the European market.
Alliances and counteralliances, competition and cohesion, plans, projects -- the world of trade would be nothing without them. In the marketplace, whoever has the best information wins; whoever has cooked up the best plan, contracted the best alliance, survives.

The story of the de Fleury, Charetty and St Pol families unfolds concurrently with the rise of the House of Niccolò. At their hub stands Nicholas, formerly known as Claes, rejected by his own family as an illegitimate child. But in the fast-changing world of the 15th century, society is permeable, and Nicholas has what it takes to rise.

With regard to the German editions of The House of Niccolò:

By 1996, with the boom in historical novels, the first four volumes of The House of Niccolò had appeared in German. Then the publishers (Wunderlich, a Rowohlt imprint) shut down their business in this area. Granted, the publishing industry is still inundated with historical novels; but in this flood of hastily written works, how are readers to find the true gems? The situation demands more from a responsible publishing firm than an assembly-line mentality. Moreover, in translation the novels were greatly abridged, leaving readers confused and unclear. A writer such as Dorothy Dunnett, who has put so much effort into research and historical accuracy in her writing, deserves a genuine effort on the part of her publishers to promote and support her books in an overseas market.

Detail from photograph: Venetian Shopdoor
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