🙂 🙂 🙂 😐
In their afterword, the authors say ‘..our book…must be a new artistic product in its own right..’ Sadly, I think they have failed in that objective. The book is based so closely on Shakespeare’s play, with only some changes in emphasis, that it isn’t possible to see it as a new artistic work. Throughout they take every opportunity to use the most-quoted words of the playwright – if this is a ‘new’ work then it is relies too heavily on borrowing from the old. If however, it is in fact a reworking of the play, which I believe it is, then it doesn’t begin to compare on an artistic level.
In fact, it reads more like a historical sword and sorcery potboiler than like the psychologically complex and illuminating original. I found myself unmoved by the fate of either Macbeth or Lady Macbeth – despite considerably detailed descriptions of the events before and after the murder of Duncan, for me the authors failed to convey the horror, guilt and ultimate madness that Shakespeare got across with far fewer words. The lengthy descriptions of the landscape, fortresses and battles served merely to slow the plot down and to turn this from a psychological study of two complex individuals into a rather slow-moving action thriller – one in which we unfortunately already knew the end.
Where the authors mainly differed from Shakespeare was in the portrayal of the witches. Given a much more all-pervading role here, the emphasis became one of the supernatural controlling the puny affairs of men, whereas in the original, (in my humble opinion), Macbeth’s superstition is used primarily to further demonstrate the psychological weaknesses of the man.
I have struggled to decide what star rating to give the book. While my fairly damning review above shows that I don’t think it reaches the artistic height the authors were clearly aiming for, it is nevertheless well-written and for someone less interested in the original would work well as a historical action novel in the vein of Conn Iggulden or Robert Low. I am therefore rating it as 4-star on that basis, though it would merit only 3 if I were to judge it solely in comparison with its illustrious ancestor.
NB This book was provided for review by Amazon Vine UK. The pictures are, of course, from the Trevor Nunn production with Judi Dench and Ian McKellen.