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Tim O'Reilly (Founder/O'Reilly Media)The Lymond Chronicles, by Dorothy Dunnett. I discovered this series of six difficult, complex historical novels about a character roving the world at the turn of the seventeenth century as my company was passing the critical 50-person inflection point. Lymond is a brilliant leader who isn't afraid of the opprobrium of his peers--he does the right thing, seeing further than those around him. He was a hero I aspired to emulate. The books are also just darn cool--the amount of historical scholarship packed into these stories is truly remarkable.
In this first book in the legendary Lymond Chronicles, Francis Crawford of Lymond, traitor, murderer, nobleman, returns to Scotland to redeem his reputation and save his home.
It is 1547 and Scotland has been humiliated by an English invasion and is threatened by machinations elsewhere beyond its borders, but it is still free. Paradoxically, her freedom may depend on a man who stands accused of treason. He is Francis Crawford of Lymond, a scapgrace nobleman of crooked felicities and murderous talents, posessed of a scholar's erudition and a tongue as wicked as a rapier. In The Game of Kings, this extraordinary antihero returns to the country that has outlawed him to redeem his reputations even at the risk of his life.