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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Separating the man from the myth.
If you though Macbeth was simply a character from a famous play then this is the book for you. One of my favourite Nigel Tranter novels, Macbeth The King shows him as a good and fair medieval ruler who defended his kingdom time and time again before eventually being overcome by his many enemies. From what little historical facts are available Tranter has written a...
Published on 28 Jan 2001 by gary_scotland@hotmail.com

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3.0 out of 5 stars Not the easiest book to read
I am very familiar with books by classical authors, but this is the first book I have read by Nigel Tranter. It is not the easiest book to read, for me. I am not Scottish, even though I have lived in Scotland for 36 years. Nevertheless, there are many Scottish words (possibly Gaelic) whose meaning is lost both to me and my dictionary, and can only be assumed by their...
Published 14 months ago by Phil


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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Separating the man from the myth., 28 Jan 2001
This review is from: Macbeth the King (Hardcover)
If you though Macbeth was simply a character from a famous play then this is the book for you. One of my favourite Nigel Tranter novels, Macbeth The King shows him as a good and fair medieval ruler who defended his kingdom time and time again before eventually being overcome by his many enemies. From what little historical facts are available Tranter has written a sweeping novel that stretches from Scotland to Rome to Norway and by the end produces nothing but sympathy for the beleaguered Macbeth as he fights for his kingdom and his life. An excellent novel that can have you getting the map out to see where the action is taking place next! Also worth reading: The Bruce Trilogy; Black Douglas; The Wallace.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The true Macbeth, 20 Feb 2007
This review is from: Macbeth the King (Coronet Books) (Paperback)
A great read. Quite different from Shakespeare's version which was essentially a 'gunpowder book' about why you should not kill a king written around the time of the gunpowder plot.

This book follows the historical myths and legends faithfully. All the favourite characters are there but in a more realistic historical setting.

The book tells the well known story of the last of the highland Scottish Kings from the killing of Duncan I in 1040 through to the fabled defeat at Dunsinane in 1057 by Siward fighting for Malcolm, son of Duncan. Then finally ambush and death in 1058 the following year - as in the true history. I hope that hasn't spoilt it for anyone but lets face it we all know that he gets killed.

A fantastic story that I couldn't put down and the book that rekindled my interest in history. This books is in quite a different league when it comes to historical fiction.

Shakespeare's play is a great work but personally, in large part because of the more accurate historical background, I prefer this work. You can enjoy reading this book whereas the only way to really appreciate Shakespeare's Macbeth is to go and see the play.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Macbeth MacFinlay King of Scots, 13 Nov 2012
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This review is from: Macbeth the King (Coronet Books) (Paperback)
It is clear that the Shakespeare play- Macbeth- bears little or no resemblance to the true facts and events of the time or the real character of MacBeth mac Finlay King of Scots.
Nigel Tranter has put much meticulous research into this work, which most likely traces events close to how they really were. Nowhere do we read , in this book, about the vicious and bloodthirsty tyrant portrayed by Shakespeare.
MacBeth is here revealed as a strong and courageous ruler, who together with his beautiful young queen Gruoch (much maligned by Shakespeare as 'Lady MacBeth), are commited to the unity and freedom of Scotland from England, the Danes, the Roman Church and self-serving and arrogant nobles.
Together MacBeth and Gruoch rule justly and fairly, and MacBeth is helped by his half-brother the redoubtable Nordic Prince, Thorkill Forsterer, Earl of Orkney.
Duncan is revealed as not the benevolent and just king in the Shakespeare play, but a worthless and scheming coward, who MacBeth kills in battle.
The saga takes us all over Scotland, and to Norway, Denmark and Rome.
MacBeth's battle for the sovereignty and welfare of Scotland is brought to an end by Duncans' son Malcolm and the jealous Duncan MacDuff.
Interestingly MacDuff, in this volume, is not even a great warrior, and in the final chapter has MacBeth dispatched by a Norman knight, rather than fight him himself.
Obviously historical novels depend of imagination and deduction, as well as research, but a study of the subject would certainly verify the portrayal and events in htis novel as more authentic.
Enthusiasts of millitary histor and wargames will enjoy the detailed battle descriptions, and lovers of historical fiction will find this rich and rewarding.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Real Macbeth - the historical perspective, 3 Aug 2011
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This review is from: Macbeth the King (Coronet Books) (Paperback)
MACBETH, THE KING Nigel Tranter 1978

The late and greatly missed Nigel Tranter (b.1909-d.2000) was not only one of Scotland's leading historians, but was also the premier writer of Scottish historical biographical fiction. If you were to organise his books chronologically they would form an almost complete biographic history of Scotland from the earliest times to the Highland Clearances. I started to collect his books as they were published in early 1970s and acquired each new title until the last, issued posthumously in 2007.

For most people outside of Scotland the name Macbeth is synonymous with a blasted heath, witches and a bloody dagger, the legacy of Victorian school boy history which taught Shakespeare as historical fact and extended well into the 20th century. Tranter's biographical novel Macbeth, The King paints him as a strong ruler at a time when his country was in desperate need, who struggled to be more than just a brave and effective soldier but also fair and honourable, but often confronted with the need to put his duty before his personal conscience.
As always when chronicling Scottish history this is a tale of terrible violence from the slaying of Duncan I in 1040 through Macbeths continuous battle to hold his land together and keep his throne against internal strife and the constant threat from the new Norman kingdom in England, to his shameful death in 1058. As Tranter himself once remarked, the Scots have an absolute talent for killing their own kings.

As usual Mr.Tranter's prose paints a vivid picture of the people and their times and his meticulous research and breadth of knowledge brings to life the true story of a man who was certainly one of the better of the earlier Scottish kings and for that very reason much malined by English historicans and dramatists writing at a time when the Scots and English were politically and militarily opposed. The tale is packed with so much intrigue, treachery and action that the famous play is made mild and peaceful.

This is one of my favourite Tranter medieval novels and one that I come back to and re-read regularly and always discover some small thing that appears fresh or new.

Thank you Mr.Tranter, for your contribution to literature, your prolific output which would keep any reader content for years, and your determination to bring readable Scottish history to the people.

You are sorely missed.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars a cracking Scots yarn, 28 Feb 2014
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I do love a good Nigel Tranter yarn. He evocatively brings to life ancient and Mediaeval Scotland like no other. He really is the best historical fiction writer for Scots out there.

This fantastic story tells the REAL tale of Macbeth-none of your Shakespeare nonsense. Truly gripping, always informative and desperately moving at times. A must read for any lover of Scots history
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Read, 23 Feb 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: Macbeth the King (Coronet Books) (Paperback)
Completely different from the play by Shakespare. Although fictional, is close to the exisiting legends and stories of the historical Macbeth.
An book that is easy to read and will have you enthralled. Found difficult to put down once I started to read it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars My first Mcbeth experience, 29 Mar 2014
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Kevin Mulligan: (stockport.england) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Macbeth the King (Coronet Books) (Paperback)
Well I eventually finished it ! It's a long winding story and if you had no idea about the Mcbeth story or William Shakespeare play ( Like I didn't ! )but like a real history story with real characters then I would recommend it.A knowledge of old Scotland locations (which I didn't have ! ) also helps a great deal.However,what I really enjoyed was reading the book slowly and,when I came to a person or location in Scotland that I had never heard of I looked it up on kindle fire via Wikipedia.and also referred to a map of Scotland . This opened my eyes regarding how many non fictional people and places were in this book.Time consuming,I know,but thoroughly engrossing as I followed Mcbeth on his travels.I don't know the ins and outs and political correctness of what is fact and fiction but I do know when i finished this book it was with a feeling of gaining in my knowledge and a feeling of achievement and satisfaction .
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4.0 out of 5 stars Popular History Illustrated, 19 Mar 2014
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AmazingGrace (Nottingham, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This historically accurate version of Macbeth's story is going to leave one in little doubt as to the correct Scottish history.
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5.0 out of 5 stars As good as the first time I read it nearly 20 years ago!, 20 Oct 2013
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A first class read for anybody who's interested in Viking, Anglo Saxon and Scottish history, certainly puts a different spin on it after reading Shakespeare's Macbeth.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Shakespear eat your heart out, 3 Oct 2013
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Almost a sequel to High Kings and Vikings; the early struggle to form a nation out of power hungry warring families
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Macbeth the King (Coronet Books)
Macbeth the King (Coronet Books) by Nigel Tranter (Paperback - 6 Jan 1994)
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