I have read every word of The Game of Kings with increasing admiration and pleasure. It is eccentric certainly…and monstrous without a doubt. But what eccentricity and what monstrousness! At the end I was quite lost in admiration of the vigour and wit which kept this bespangled, word-crammed, plot-ridden and fantastic tale all in one piece; and I searched in vain to find a thousand words expendable in the whole…I have learned to respect Miss Dunnett. She knows practically everything, and her sharp, adroit, level-headed humour kept me afloat, so that not once was I in danger of going down even for the first time in a welter of Scottish genealogy and costume description. Her great thing is not to explain. If you don’t know what a papingo-shoot is, well then, that is your look-out. Latin, court French, Italian and Spanish conceits flitter impertinently in the dialogue. And so do endless references to things and situations which no doubt held no secrets for Shakespeare, but which present foxers in 1957. She must have the most ostentatious dictionary in the world….The effect is like being in some great murky place, like Holyrood or the Tower of London, but without a guide or any of the little notices telling one where to go, or what this thing was used for. All the dreadful realities and foibles of the past exist hugger-mugger and one reels out, overcome by a mixture of small, cold rooms and huge hot treacheries.
— Reader’s report on The Game of Kings, recommending publication. The publisher rejected the manuscript on the grounds that it was too long.