Author: Joanna Courtney
Publisher: Piatkus Books
First Published: 6 September 2018
Rating: 5 stars
“My heart was not forged simply but it was forged strong and it beat out a rhythm I can never regret. I did not ask to be queen but neither did I refuse. I made my destiny and I followed it all across Alba to its throne and its tomb. I was Lady Macbeth and I was Queen and I can only hope that in some small way Alba was richer for it.”
Cold. Ruthless. Deadly. The myth of Lady Macbeth looms large. But behind the villainous portrait stands a real woman. This is her story . . .
Scotland, 1020 AD – King Malcolm II is fading fast. It is North vs South, for two families have a claim on the inheritance of his crown. Who will gain the Scottish throne?
On the eve of her sixteenth birthday, a flushed and nervous Cora MacDuff waits to marry her sweetheart, Macbeth. But her dreams are about to be stolen from her as the night she was hoping for turns into a brutal slaughter. In order to reclaim the life she was promised, she will learn to use every weapon at her disposal – even her son.
This is the first book in Joanna Courtney’s new series, which will unearth the history and reality behind Shakespeare’s most infamous queens. The first queen up is Lady Macbeth.
Set in 1020 AD Alba —modern day Scotland— King Malcolm II coming to the end of his life and the line of succession should be handed over to the Ade line. However, King Malcolm wants to hand the throne to this grandson, Prince Duncan, and keep the Constantin line in power. To consolidate his power, the King has been killing off those in the Ade line, which includes Cora MacDuff’s father. In the aftermath, Cora hides in Moray with her sweetheart, Macbeth who she wishes to marry. She holds firm to her vengeance, but her dreams are about to be stolen from her.
The Dark Ages must be Courtney’s pocket of history as this book is set 40 years or so before her Conqueror’s Queens trilogy. She has a way of bringing this time period to life.
I will admit that I haven’t read Shakespeare play but I’m familiar with the story and Lady Macbeth’s characterisation. Lady Macbeth is shown as cutthroat and power hungry. She’s a woman willing to sacrifice anyone and anything for the throne.
Cora has gone through every traumatic experience imaginable. Her father was murdered, sexual assault, her wedding to Macbeth delayed. It’s harrowing. The way she’s able to get through it all is to cling to her range and revenge, which does border on obsession. However, Cora does has more depth than her Shakespearian counterpart. She adores her son and is willing to indulge his every wish. Ultimately with her rule, as Queen and as Lady of Moray, she brings stability and peace. She also works to help s build roads, cities and implement a minting facility and bring coins to Alba.
Not going to lie, Macbeth is my new book boyfriend. I love him so much! His character is sweet and the way he cares for Cora makes me swoon. He has a claim to the throne and is willing to take it because he knows that’s what Cora wants. Where as Macbeth would be content living the rest of his days running his lands in the North far from the court.
I enjoy that we get to see from Sybil, Prince Duncan’s wife, point of view. Sybil is a Dane who came to England with her brother and King Cnut’s army. Sybil is another strong woman and mother who’s willing to do whatever it takes to get the throne for her sons. I loved getting to see the series of wars from both sides.
I need more books looking this section of Scottish history. Also, I need the next book stat and cannot wait to see which queen will be featured next.