Summary

Macbeth: A Novel brings the intricacy and grit of the historical thriller to Shakespeare’s tale of political intrigue, treachery, and murder. In this full-length novel written exclusively for audio, authors A. J. Hartley and David Hewson rethink literature’s most infamous married couple, grounding them in a medieval Scotland whose military and political upheavals are as stark and dramatic as the landscape on which they are played.
Macbeth is a war hero and a patriot, doing everything in his power to hold together Duncan’s crumbling kingdom, which is beset by sedition from within and with threats from overseas. But when Duncan, contrary to ancient Scottish tradition, turns to building a family dynasty instead of rewarding those who have borne the brunt of the fighting, Macbeth and his powerful wife, Skena, make plans of their own, plans designed to hold both the nation and their strained relationship together. Sinister figures who claim supernatural knowledge spur them on, but the terrible outcome is as much about accident and failure as it is malevolence. Soon Macbeth and his wife find themselves preeminent in all the land, but struggling to hold themselves and their country together as former friends turn into bitter and deadly enemies.
This is Macbeth as you have not heard it before: fresh, edgy, and vital. It is a story of valor in battle, whispering in shadows, witchcraft in the hollows of an ancient landscape, and the desperate struggle of flawed people to do what they think is right.
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
A. J. Hartley, a professor of Shakespeare at the Univ. of North Carolina-Charlotte, is the author of the “Will Hawthorne” fantasy series as well as several thrillers.
David Hewson is the best-selling author of 16 novels, including the Rome-based “Nic Costa” crime series.
ABOUT THE NARRATOR
Alan Cumming stars in CBS's The Good Wife, for which he received an Emmy nomination, and is the host of PBS’s Masterpiece Mystery. He was honored with the 2011 Audie Award for Best Male Narrator.
The Irish folk song “She Moved Through the Fair” is performed by Heather O'Neil of the Irish Repertory Theater.
©2011 A.J. Hartley, David Hewson (P)2011 Audible, Inc.
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Critic reviews

“Not only is the novel an amplification of Shakespeare's famous tragedy, but it also fills in many of the gaps and gives a new perspective on Macbeth….Alan Cumming reads in a luscious Scottish brogue, which adds authenticity to the narration. His subtle changes of voice for different characters provide a full cast for this story of ambition and hubris. This is a wonderful novel of the human condition, read with ardor and enthusiasm.” ( AudioFile)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
4 out of 5 stars
By Russ on 09-07-12

Wonderful

I have to admit to being very dubious about this book, but decided to take the plunge and try it because I absolutely adore the play (despite studying it at school!)

The positives are that the Shakespearean story remains intact and very well interpreted, it is set conventionally in 11th century Scotland, and I have to say that Alan Cumming is absolutely brilliant as a reader. The plot is the same as the play and belts along just like the play. The authors have really fleshed out the characters with more back story and more characterisation.

There is only one negative and this is that I was expecting more of the historical King Macbeth who died in 1057. Now this may just be me and my reading of the blurb above but I was expecting more of the historical facts rather than the novel just sticking to Shakespeare's version of events.

That said, it is a great book and well worth a listen.

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13 of 13 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Joseph on 26-09-11

Absolutely excellent

I never did Shakespeare at school and even now I follow the Bertie Wooster philosophy of "...sounds well but doesn't mean anything." (Call me a Philistine if you wish).

This book however is an exciting adventure story set in the 11th Century and whether you know Shakespeare or not it is page turning stuff (or the audio equivalent).

I highly recommend this for just what it is.

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11 of 11 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Beverly on 10-07-11

Narrator choice inspired

This wonderful imagining of the tale of Macbeth fleshes out the story line of Shakespeare's play and brings to life even further than Shakespeare implies the love story between Macbeth and Lady Macbeth, whom the authors name "Skena," and the love story between Macbeth and Scotland. The scenery is as bleak as ever Scotland in the dark ages can be painted, and yet the players love the land. The theme "the king and the land are one" is maintained from legend to this telling and pathetic fallacy abounds. But as beautiful as the writing is, the choice of Scot Alan Cumming to narrate this novel was nothing short of inspired. Scots are often unintelligible to the American ear, but Cumming is intelligible and completely Scottish at the same time. His narration is charming, romantic, and compelling. The authors have scored high with this imagining of a story found deep in history. I hope their next experiment will be with one of my favorite characters from Shakespeare and history--Richard III.

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78 of 80 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Jennifer on 12-11-11

My first Shakespeare (but not my last)

I came to this novel differently than many people probably have - I have never read or watched Shakespeare's plays. I have only the slightest general cultural knowledge of things like MacBeth and Romeo & Juliet, etc. My hope was that this novel would lead me to take on Shakespeare - and it has! The book was dark, of course, and a tragedy (I think even I knew that much) but it also led me through the path of MacBeth and Lady MacBeth from idealistic youth to their tortured endings in an understandable way. The narrator was AMAZING as others have stated, and really made each character come to life for me! I look forward to reading the actual play MacBeth (probably the Spark Notes "no fear Shakespeare version, I'm a wimp) to see the differences and similarities. So really, any novel that leads a regular working-class person to want to read Shakespeare has to be a good one, right?

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60 of 62 people found this review helpful

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