A noble Celtic woman in the 11th century struggles with marriage to a man of ambition, and she must overcome threats to her family while assisting in the future of Scotland. Lady Gruadh is a female descendant of the royal Scots. Nickname Rue as a child, she endures several kidnapping attempts. Her kidnappers want to marry her off as a way to continue the royal blood line. At age 13 she is kidnapped by Vikings and taken to Norse-ruled northern Scotland. Her father and guards learn of this attack and come to her rescue. They destroy the camp and save her from a Viking marriage. She is taught how to be a Celtic wise woman from her mother, Ailsa, but her training is cut short when Ailsa dies.
Click here to see the rest of this review
Several years pass and Rue grows up in Abernethy surrounded by warriors in her father's court. She is summoned to a meeting with warrior leaders and meets the warrior Macbeth. Macbeth is fighting for his rightful place as high ruler, since he was disinherited after his father's murder. Gilcomgan, his cousin, wants to keep the peace. Rue is noticed by Gilcomgan, mormaer of Moray, and is betrothed in short order. After the marriage ceremony she moves with him to Elgin. Although she is nervous, she grows to be comfortable around her husband. She becomes pregnant but is left in control of the fort when Gilcomgan is summoned away.
There are great struggles between warriors and many oppose the current King of Scotland, Malcolm. King Malcolm wants his son, Duncan, to be the next king, but Macbeth is after the throne. One night Malcolm invades the region, and Gilcomgan is killed. Macbeth ends up marrying Rue and becomes mormaer of Moray. Malcolm is gruff, and Rue strongly despises him for what happened. Over time she begins to see that although he has a stony composure, his real ambitions are to be a true ruler and bring peace to the land.
Rue goes into labor and hears from her friend, the prophet Dermot mac Conall, who foresees health for her child but troubles ahead. She gives birth to a son, Lulach. She is helped by Catriona, a friend of Macbeth. One day Rue discovers their hidden relationship and is deeply hurt. Macbeth is humbled by her emotions and begins to grow closer to Rue. They become popular with the local people and work hard to earn their respect. Macbeth and Rue take control of the region and fight back invasions by other warriors and Vikings.
When King Malcolm is killed in battle, his orders named Duncan the new king. Macbeth knows this is a terrible plan, for Duncan is unkind and dishonest. He works hard, with Rue at his side, to prevent this from taking place. Duncan is crowned at Scone, and he begins to attack all warlords in Scotland. Tensions build, and the warriors leave for battle. On a display of false peace, Duncan sends gifts to Macbeth and his followers. In reality these gifts were poisoned. Rue's handmaid drinks from a glass and dies. Malcolm is also poisoned, but Catriona's knowledge of herbal healing saves him. Duncan is killed in battle, but his children had already escaped to England.
Macbeth becomes King and Rue his Queen. Several years of peace go by before Duncan's son, Malcolm Canmore, returns with a vengeance. He attacks Macbeth and wounds him. Malcolm tries to become King but is not supported. Several months later Malcolm attacks during the night and murders Macbeth. Rue has him carried to Scone where he dies quietly. Rue's son, Lulach, grows up to be the great King he was destined to be.
Best part of story, including ending:
This story is a wonderful departure from the Shakespearean tale, and it paints the picture of a realistic and humanized Macbeth and his Lady.
Best scene in story:
A favorite scene is when Rue and her clan take the wounded Macbeth to the Lia Fail, the stone of Scone. Macbeth wants Lulach to be crowned the rightful King before he dies. It is touching and heartfelt to experience the mix of pain and joy that Rue felt as she crowned her son as King of Scotland.
Opinion about the main character:
Rue is a strong, determined woman with a warrior's spirit. She may have been weak at times, but she never gave up.