Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Dorothy Dunnett 'King Hereafter'

Some books have stories that stay in your head long after you've finished the last page. This is just that sort of book. I do have a higher-than-average interest in Medieval European History, having a bachelor's degree in the subject. But I didn't have a lot of interest in the political intrigue of that time period. This was facilitated by most of my professors being more interested in the social history as well. Somehow they just assumed I was getting the wars and the kings by osmosis; if Dorothy Dunnett had been teaching the wars and the kings I might have paid more attention.

MacBeth(Thorfinn) was a real person, he ruled 'Scotland' from 1040-1058. He started out as the Earl of the Orkney Islands and became ruler of Alba after killing his cousin Duncan. He tried, with varying success, to bring what is now Scotland under one rule for most of his life. Ms. Dunnett spent over six years researching his life and times, having to use predominantly primary sources. When she describes MacBeth as a brilliant political strategist and a loyal husband and friend, I believe her. MacBeth and his wife Groa's relationship is written so beautifully and with such insight into human nature, it's a wonder to behold.

This book is not for the faint of heart, although I generally consider myself in the faint of heart category, so if I can do it, you can too. Just be prepared that it's detailed and 720 pages and very small type. It was more than worth the effort; these characters are so real and I miss them already. It's not just with a sense of accomplishment at conquering the book, but with a real sense of loss at having finished it, that I give it 5 stars.

5 comments:

Marg said...

This is one of those books that I have been meaning to read for ages! One day I will get to it because I do hear overwhelmingly positive reviews about it!

Heloise (& Abelard) said...

Marg I was thinking of you when I was reading it and hoping you had read it and could discuss it. :) You must read!

Kate said...

Is this a recent publication?

Anne said...

I was glad to read that this wasn't a romance novel because when I saw the cover, I thought, "Ew, I don't want *that* bodice ripped off!"

Heloise (& Abelard) said...

Kate, Dorothy Dunnett finished writing it in 1981, this is a re-print, I believe from 1998. So no, not a recent publication.