Many of us are familiar with the treacherous and somewhat maniacal Lady Macbeth portrayed by Shakespeare in his classic play. Forget all that! This book is a novel based on the scanty historical details of the wife of Macbeth, whose true name is even a mystery. When I say scanty, I really mean it. There is only one line in one historical document that refers to Lady Macbeth. The rest of this story was pieced together by King, a writer and student of Medieval history, based on recent research into the historical Macbeth and his queen.
Gruadh (GROO-ath) is a teenager when her noble father, Bodhe, marries her off to Gilcomgan, a middle aged lord. Bodhe and Gruadh are descended from one of Scotland’s most royal lines. Soon Gruadh is pregnant, but Gilcomgan is murdered by Macbeth in retaliation for the murder of Macbeth’s father by Gilcomgan. Macbeth immediately claims Gruadh as his wife in the tradition of the the Scottish warriors.
Resentful at first, Gruadh gives birth to a son, Lulach, and gradually begins to see that Macbeth is a good, if ambitious, man whose destiny it is to become King of Scots. Gruadh has queenly ambitions of her own and together they plot to overthrow Duncan, the inept King who is bringing Scotland to ruin.
You might be put off by this book if you assume it’s just another historical romance, but it is much more. Although there is a bit of romance, the focus is on intrigue, politics, daily life in Medieval Scotland, mysticism and the history of the Scottish warrior society. Highly recommended.