9780307341754

Lady Macbeth

by
  • ISBN13:

    9780307341754

  • ISBN10:

    0307341755

  • Edition: Reprint
  • Format: Trade Paper
  • Copyright: 2009-04-07
  • Publisher: Broadway Books
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Summary

Lady Macbeth as you've never seen her . . . Lady Gruadh, called Rue, is the last female descendant 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 warlord named Macbeth. Encountering danger from Vikings, Saxons, and treacherous Scottish lords, Rue begins to respect the man she once despisedand 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 Scotlandbut his wife's royal blood is the key to his ultimate success. Determined to protect her 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 Macbethtransports readers to the heart of eleventh-century Scotland, painting a bold, vivid portrait of a woman much maligned by history.

Author Biography

SUSAN FRASER KING lives in Maryland with her husband, sons, and a Westie.


From the Hardcover edition.

Excerpts

Chapter One

Anno Domini 1025

Scarce nine the first time I was stolen away, I remember a wild and unthinking fright as I was snatched from my pony's back and dragged into the arms of one of the men who rode toward my father's escort party. We were heading north to watch our kinsman, King Malcolm, second of the name, hold an autumnal court on the moot hill at Scone. Proud of my shaggy garron and painted saddle, I insisted on riding alone in the length between my father, older brother Farquhar, and several of their retainers. Then horsemen emerged from a fringe of trees and came straight for us. As men shouted and horses reared, a warrior reached out and plucked me up like a poppet.

The memories of that day are vivid but disjointed. His furs smelled rancid and smoky; his whiskered chin was broad from my view beneath, trapped before him in the saddle; his fingers on the reins were grimy and powerful. I can recall the russet brown of his cloak, but I do not recall his name. I know it was never spoken in my hearing for years afterward.

Kicking, shrieking, twisting like an eel in the arms of that stranger, I managed to tear his dagger from his belt, slicing my thumb like a sausage. With no idea how to handle the thing, I meant to defend myself. A fierce urge insisted upon it.

He snatched the dagger back, but next I tore the large round brooch from his cloak, shredding the wool, and whipped it upward to jab it into his cheek. That slowed him. Swearing, he released me for an instant, and I lurched from the saddle, falling and breaking my arm in my thud to cold earth. Rolling by accident more than intent, I narrowly missed the forelegs of a horse as my kinsmen thundered past me.

Shouting then, and steel and iron clashed, and within minutes of yanking me from my pretty saddle, the man was dead, and two of his guard with him. My father and the others took them down with swift and ugly certainty.

Huddled beside the road on the frosted earth, I watched, arm aching, heart slamming, while men fought and died. Until then, I had never seen a skirmish, nor so much blood. I had heard steel ring against steel in the practice yard of our fortress in Fife, but I had never seen blade sink into flesh, nor heard the soft, surprised gasp as the soul abandons the body without warning. Since then, I have heard it too often.

I own that cloak pin still, good bronze and smooth jet, and I will never wear it. In the little casket with my jewels, its dusky gleam reminds me to stay strong and wary.

My brother, Farquhar, died of the wounds he took in my defense. I saw the angled sprawl of his body, though my father's men shielded me from the full sight. I remember, too, the taste of my salt tears, and my father's roar of grief echoing in the chill air.

Farquhar left a small son, Malcolm, and a pale wife with a grieving spirit, who soon returned to her Lowland family, leaving Malcolm to foster with Bodhe. My father found solace in the boy's presence, and he swore to discover who had plotted the attack that had nearly taken his daughter and had killed his son.

Through subtle inquiries, Bodhe learned that the men were sent by Crinan, the lay abbot of Dunkeld as well as mormaer--the Celtic equivalent to Saxon earl or Norse jarl--of Atholl. He was married to the king's eldest daughter. My father already loathed him as an arrogant fool, and now outright hated him. At the king's next judgment court, Bodhe accused Crinan of Atholl of plotting to abduct me to marry Crinan's son Duncan, a young warrior, and of cruelly killing Farquhar mac Bodhe. Denying all, Crinan claimed that Bodhe attacked his men without provocation, thereby inviting Farquhar's death himself.

The guilty party would have to pay cro, a customary penalty in recompense, a certain amount of livestock or other goods according to rank. While they awaited the king's decision, tensions were such that Bodhe and Crinan nearly came

Excerpted from Lady Macbeth: A Novel by Susan Fraser King
All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

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