Top Ten Tuesday: Lines from Lymond

This week’s topic for Top Ten Tuesday (hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl) is:

Inspirational/Thought-Provoking Book Quotes

There are so many quotes I find thought-provoking or inspirational from various books that I really didn’t know where to begin, so I decided to narrow things down slightly by choosing ten from my favourite series, The Lymond Chronicles by Dorothy Dunnett. I say ‘slightly’ because all six of these books are worth quoting in full, in my opinion! Anyway, here is a selection…


1. “You cannot love any one person adequately until you have made friends with the rest of the human race also. Adult love demands qualities which cannot be learned living in a vacuum of resentment.”


2. “I despised men who accepted their fate. I shaped mine twenty times and had it broken twenty times in my hands.”
The Game of Kings


3. “Lack of genius never held anyone back,” said Lymond. “Only time wasted on resentment and daydreaming can do that.”
Queens’ Play


4. “Man is a being of varied, manifold and inconstant nature. And woman, by God, is a match for him.”
The Disorderly Knights


5. “I don’t like this war. I don’t like the cold-blooded scheming at the beginning and the carnage at the end and the grumbling and the jealousies and the pettishness in the middle. I hate the lack of gallantry and grace; the self-seeking; the destruction of valuable people and things. I believe in danger and endeavour as a form of tempering but I reject it if this is the only shape it can take.”
The Game of Kings


6. “Man is not intellect only,” Guthrie said. “Not until you reject all the claims of your body. Not until you have stamped out, little by little, all that is left of your soul.”
The Ringed Castle


7. “Remember, some live all their lives without discovering this truth; that the noblest and most terrible power we possess is the power we have, each of us, over the chance-met, the stranger, the passer-by outside your life and your kin. Speak, she said, as you would write: as if your words were letters of lead, graven there for all time, for which you must take the consequences. And take the consequences.”
Queens’ Play


8. “The more modest your expectations, the less often you will court disappointment.”


9. “I ask for no apology,” said Míkál. “I ask nothing but kindness.”
“I have learned,” said Lymond, “that kindness without love is no kindness.”
Pawn in Frankincense


10. “Today,” said Lymond, “if you must know, I don’t like living at all. But that’s just immaturity boggling at the sad face of failure. Tomorrow I’ll be bright as a bedbug again.”
The Disorderly Knights


What are your favourite lines from your favourite books?

28 thoughts on “Top Ten Tuesday: Lines from Lymond

  1. Elle says:

    I tried The Game of Kings over a year ago, found it impenetrable, and gave up, but now I’m thinking there must have been something going wrong that wasn’t the book! Perhaps it’s worth trying again – so many people love the Lymond books, after all…

    • Helen says:

      I think it’s common to find The Game of Kings impenetrable on a first attempt…I don’t know how far you got with it, but a lot of people say they had to give it at least 100 pages before they really started to get into it. It’s a wonderful book, but the problem is that so much of it doesn’t make a lot of sense until you’re nearly at the end!

  2. Lisa says:

    I was so happy to see the title of your post, and I clicked right over to read the excellent quotes. I am also partial to “Lymond is back” 😊

  3. Calmgrove says:

    There are quotes that are inspirational, principally because they reveal essential truths about the human condition or offer advice about how to be a good, compassionate being; I think the ones you offer above are firmly in that category, and they’re lovely.

    Then there are quotes which are more specific but perhaps less personal; the quotes I tend to make a note of are for review purposes because they me something about the character, their motivation, their choices, or elucidate a plot point. (These are in fact the kinds of quotations I tend to put under my Inverted Commas tag: though I try and draw out broader issues from them.)

    I suppose any motivational epigrams I treasure hark back to my childhood, such as the New Testament ‘Love your neighbour as youself’ (though, as a good atheist, I ignore the first part of this injunction). 🙂

    • Helen says:

      Yes, there are several different types of quote and you’ve described some of the categories perfectly here. For the purposes of this post, I have concentrated on the first type, but am more likely to include the second in my reviews.

  4. Jess @ Jessticulates says:

    Great list! I don’t think I’ve ever heard of this series before, but clearly I need to give it a try. That third quote, in particular, I really like.

  5. Judy Krueger says:

    #10: I felt that way yesterday afternoon and evening. I am fine this morning.
    Your quotes make me even more determined to dive into this series.

  6. N. Miller says:

    I keep a list similar to this from my favorites. Your #7 has always been a favorite of mine. It is worth remembering every day how powerful words are to cause hurt or bring a smile;.

  7. says:


    “. . . frozen and immobilized into a memory of a memory” (68)

    “In all these recollections, my task is a little bit like that of someone trying to build something out of old stones that he is digging out of the ruins of something” [else]. (302)

    “Everyone [lived] under his own vines and under his own fig tree.” (Oz quoting I Kings 4:25b)

    “Tho’ there be no blossom on the fig tree and no fruit on the vine, . . . yet will I trust thee, O Lord.” (author paraphrasing Habakkuk 3:17-18)

    • Helen says:

      The Niccolo series is great too, although I found the main character a bit less appealing than Lymond. I’m sure you’ll enjoy it.

  8. Sylvia Cheevers says:

    My favourite line is from The Ringed Castle…

    “And deep within him, missing its accustomed tread, his heart paused, and gave one single stroke, as if on an anvil.”

    • Helen says:

      Yes, I love that one too. To fit the topic of this list, I had to pick quotes that were ‘inspirational or thought-provoking’, but for sheer beauty and emotion that is one of the best.

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