A very different tale of Macbeth and his lady than Shakespeare’s
Lady Gruadh (Rue) is descended from one of two branches of the ancient royal line of Celtic Kings. First married against her wishes to Gilcomgan of Moray, her husband is killed in battle with Macbeth, and the pregnant Rue is married to Macbeth, Rue’s pure bloodline giving him a stronger claim to the throne of Scotland. Thus begins an uneasy truce between the two as they eventually make the marriage work and Macbeth schemes to take the reign of Scotland from Duncan. Amidst the plots and treacheries of 11C Scotland, the author also works in plentiful details of Celtic myths and lifestyle as she tells Rue’s story in the first person POV.
While I did enjoy this book, along with picking up some knowledge of Scottish history and the “real” Macbeth, I found this book to be slow paced at times with long periods of inaction and detailed descriptions of every day life. Although I typically don’t mind a slower paced book as long as the author can fully immerse me into another century, in this case I felt like I was on the outside looking in. Rue’s tale came off to this reader as a bit cold and aloof. I never felt I was a part of the story – just an interested bystander, and that is not where I want to be in a book. I also felt it too short at just over 300 pages, perhaps the characters would be been stronger and had more life if they had been fleshed out more, but that could have been the publisher’s decision and not the author. We’ll never know.
An entertaining and educational read about the “real” Macbeth instead of Shakespeare’s version, but it’s not a book I’m willing to give a five star rating to, nor one I will read more than once. If you’re not sure, get it from the library first and then if you love it, buy it. Side note, there is an extensive list of characters with their full names and titles (with pronunciation) along with a glossary at the back of the book. I really wish publishers would either put these at the front of the book or tell the reader it’s there in the back for my reference.