We all know the story of Macbeth, right? He murdered the king, usurped the Scottish throne, had his best friend assassinated, and was killed by Macduff at Dunsinane. Then there's some stuff about witches and a conniving wife-- Shakespeare was a skillful dramatist, but how much of the story is true, and how much myth? I had no idea until stumbled across an entry on Macbeth in a reliable reference book. It said he ruled Scotland for 17 years and was probably a very good king. It also said he claimed the throne in his own name and his wife.
What's this? A man maligned in popular lore? Succession claimed through the female line? I was intrigued, to say the least. I wanted to know the real circumstances surrounding the historical ruler. I wanted to know who the real Macbeth was.
I began my research with several books on Scottish history from the University of Arizona library, assuming such scholarly works would spell out the story for me. That's when I got the shock of my life: the books didn't agree! What was represented as fact in one was challenged or dismissed as erroneous in another. Books written before World War II tended to portray Macbeth as a usurper who rose to power by murder; those written later suggested he had ascended through legitimate channels after defeating Duncan on the field of battle.
WHY THERE'S ROOM FOR INTERPRETATION
With so many unanswered questions about Macbeth, I could not resist the temptation to take up the story and see what I could do with it. Stones of Destiny (Four O’clock Press, 2007, ISBN 9781906146191) sets the man firmly in his historical context, but it does not eschew the mysteries of his legend. After all, what would a story of Macbeth be without mystics upon the moors, prophecies of triumph and of doom, and a man who is, in the end, the cause of his own downfall?
In 11th Century Scotland, a fierce warlord arose whose legend endures today. But was he truly a usurper? or did he save his country from an inept king? Filled with passion, politics, and tantalizing possibilities, Stones of Destiny tells the story of Macbeth, King of Scots—not as we know it from Shakespeare’s tale, but as it might actually have been.
Stones of Destiny can be ordered from amazon.com or amazon.co.uk. Read an excerpt.
Catherine Wells holds a Master of Library Science degree and is the author of several novels and short stories. She is a member of the Special Libraries Association and the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Association.