The Disorderly Knights is the third book in The Lymond Chronicles, and a pivotal point in the series. After his escapades in Queen’s Play, Francis Crawford of Lymond embarks on a journey to Malta. While there, he meets an old boyhood friend, Jerott Blyth, and Blyth’s leader, Graham Malett, both of whom are Knights of the Order of St. John. Unfortunately, the knights are led by a corrupt and venal Grand Master, who has stolen the Order’s money for his own gains. Consequently, he neglected upkeep of the Order’s defenses, and left them vulnerable to the Turkish army.
After devastating battles in both Malta, and Tripoli, Lymond returns to Scotland. There, he plans to raise a private army that will enforce peace, and give Scotland a chance to heal from years of war with the English and themselves. Blyth and Malett follow him, along with several other former Knights of the Order, and they are joined by other experts in the field of war who are interested in fighting under Francis Crawford.
However, the clans along the border of Scotland are not particularly interested in peace, and Lymond has to force them to accept his terms. He also has to decide what relationship, if any, he wants with Graham Malett’s beautiful sister, Joleta. Additionally, he has to ward off an attempt by an insidious enemy who wants to control Lymond’s army for personal gain. Lastly, a secret about his personal life, unknown even to Lymond, but manipulated by his enemies, threatens to be revealed, and change all of Lymond’s plans for the future.
In some ways similar to the first book, in The Disorderly Knights the motivations of characters are not revealed until the end. There are several plot twists, and Dunnett loves to lead her readers in one direction, only to pull the rug out from under their feet. However, upon close reading, she does lay out many clues to the mystery in this story, and I loved seeing how the pieces of the puzzle fit together. There are thrilling battles, adventure and escape. Most of all, I loved the characters, and watching Lymond once more battle against all odds, and mature and prevail. However, be warned that there is a major cliffhanger, and you will want the next book, Pawn in Frankincense, by your side when this one is finished.