Wednesday, October 17, 2012

A Pious Saint

Queen Hereafter: A Novel of Margaret of Scotland by Susan Fraser King

Summary: Refugee. Queen. Saint. In eleventh-century Scotland, a young woman strives to fulfill her destiny despite the risks . . .
Shipwrecked on the Scottish coast, a young Saxon princess and her family—including the outlawed Edgar of England—ask sanctuary of the warrior-king Malcolm Canmore, who shrewdly sees the political advantage. He promises to aid Edgar and the Saxon cause in return for the hand of Edgar’s sister, Margaret, in marriage.

A foreign queen in a strange land, Margaret adapts to life among the barbarian Scots, bears princes, and shapes the fierce warrior Malcolm into a sophisticated ruler. Yet even as the king and queen build a passionate and tempestuous partnership, the Scots distrust her. When her husband brings Eva, a Celtic bard, to court as a hostage for the good behavior of the formidable Lady Macbeth, Margaret expects trouble. Instead, an unlikely friendship grows between the queen and her bard, though one has a wild Celtic nature and the other follows the demanding path of obligation. 
Torn between old and new loyalties, Eva is bound by a vow to betray the king and his Saxon queen. Soon imprisoned and charged with witchcraft and treason, Eva learns that Queen Margaret—counseled by the furious king and his powerful priests—will decide her fate and that of her kinswoman Lady Macbeth. But can the proud queen forgive such deep treachery?

Impeccably researched, a dramatic page-turner, Queen Hereafter is an unforgettable story of shifting alliances and the tension between fear and trust as a young woman finds her way in a dangerous world.

Review: A decently enjoyable tale of Margaret of Scotland.

I had never heard of Margaret of Scotland before, but I do enjoy historical fiction about queens, kings, and royalty so I gave this book a try. I was surprised to read the names of Duncan and Macbeth in this book since I had only read them before in Shakespeare's play and did not realize that the play was based on actual historical characters. I must admit to feeling a bit silly that I did not know they were real people, but some research reveals that the events of the play were highly fictionalized. I plan on reading a few non-fiction books about Macbeth, Duncan, and this period in Scottish history.

Margaret was good, too good if I must be honest. I know she was later canonized as a saint, but she was practically a saint already by how she acted. I know that she was pious, kind, good hearted, and devout, but there was little of the human in her. I did not see love develop between Margaret and Malcolm nor did I even see a lot of affection. Eva the bard was a good character and I did like her although her character seemed to only be there to create drama and tension. I was much more interested in the historical note at the end of the book by the author. The real Margaret of Scotland seems like a fascinating person and I am eager to read more about her. 


I would recommend this book to those that enjoy historical fiction about queens, Scotland, or Margaret of Scotland.

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