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Lady Macbeth: A Novel By Susan Fraser King: A Book Review

Lady Macbeth: A Novel
Author: Susan Fraser King
Genre: Historical fiction
Publisher: Crown
Release Date: 2008
Pages: 352
Source: Personal Collection
Synopsis: I am granddaughter to a king and 
daughter to a prince, a wife twice over, a queen 
as well. I have fought with sword and bow, and 
struggled fierce to bear my babes into this world. 
I have loved deeply and hated deeply, too. 

     Lady Gruadh, called Rue, is the last female descendent of Scotland’s most royal line. Married to a powerful northern lord, she is widowed while still carrying his child and forced to marry her husband’s murderer: a rising war-lord named Macbeth. Encountering danger from Vikings, Saxons, and treacherous Scottish lords, Rue begins to respect the man she once despised–and then realizes that Macbeth’s complex ambitions extend beyond the borders of the vast northern region. Among the powerful warlords and their steel-games, only Macbeth can unite Scotland–and his wife’s royal blood is the key to his ultimate success.  

     Determined to protect her small son and a proud legacy of warrior kings and strong women, Rue invokes the ancient wisdom and secret practices of her female ancestors as she strives to hold her own in a warrior society. Finally, side by side as the last Celtic king and queen of Scotland, she and Macbeth must face the gathering storm brought on by their combined destiny.

     From towering crags to misted moors and formidable fortresses, Lady Macbeth transports readers to the heart of eleventh-century Scotland, painting a bold, vivid portrait of a woman much maligned by history. 
     
     My Review: I have always been a fan of Shakespeare's play, Macbeth. I love to read the play during thunderstorms at night, for it brings alive the danger, suspense, darkness, and horror of the play, particularly the witches scenes, which are my favorite in the play. Shakespeare’s Macbeth is a story of how ambition changed an honorable man into a tyrant. However, while I knew and studied Shakespeare’s Macbeth, I knew very little about the real historical Macbeth. I also did not know anything at all about Lady Macbeth, Macbeth’s faithful partner in the murder of the benevolent King Duncan. 

     In Susan Fraser King’s Lady Macbeth, Gruadh or Rue, as she is frequently known in the novel, is the most desirable woman in Scotland because she is the last female descendant of Scotland's royal line. She is forced into an arranged marriage to a powerful lord, the Earl of Moray, who is Macbeth’s cousin and is twice her age. She falls in love with him, but it is short-lived. Her husband goes off to war with Macbeth, and gets killed. Because of her lineage, Rue is forced to marry Macbeth, her husband's warrior. She despises him at first, but slowly grows to love him. Together both of them unite Scotland and eventually become king and queen.

     The historical retelling is very entertaining. It is so different from Shakespeare's Lady Macbeth. This Lady Macbeth is strong, bold, and intelligent. I love how the author painted Lady Macbeth as a warrior. I did not expect it when I read it, and it was a pleasant surprise. Macbeth is ambitious, a skilled warrior, and he is kind to Rue. He is a king that wants nothing but the best for Scotland. In fact, unlike the Shakespeare's Macbeth, this Macbeth reigns for seventeen years until his downfall. 

     Overall, this novel is not like Shakespeare's Macbeth. The characters are well-developed. Rue is a strong and likable heroine, and you will find Macbeth sympathetic. The plot is fast-paced, and the story is well-told. It shows how Scotland was divided at the time, and it showed warring factions and the war victor’s customs. I recommend this book to people who want to learn more about Scottish history. I also recommend this to fans of Shakespeare and those interested in putting Shakespeare's Lady Macbeth aside and want to read a story about the real historical Lady Macbeth.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

This is the author's official book trailer of Lady Macbeth:

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