1. Checkmate opens with a cockfight that has a decidedly symbolic feel to it. What are some of the symbolic possibilities in the conflict between the red and the gold birds? Does it in some respects mirror the developing antagonism between Francis Crawford and Austin Gray and the climax of that antagonism?
2. Marthe explains to Sybilla Crawford that the reason her marriage to Jerott Blyth has failed is that each partner “has married the other as a substitute for somebody else.” What does she mean? What does Marthe want from Sybilla Crawford? What does she want from Francis Crawford?
3. First seen as a shouting five-year-old in The Game of Kings and then as a defiant and imperilled seven-year-old in Queens’ Play, Mary Queen of Scots is a complex teenager in Checkmate. How does the novel assess her character? What does her character portend for the future of Scotland?
4. After a long and difficult romance the hero and heroine of the Lymond Chronicles finally return to one another and to Scotland at the end of this novel. What has been blocking these returns, and what unblocks them? What losses balance this gain?