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3.8 of 5 stars 3.80  ·  rating details  ·  1,541 ratings  ·  227 reviews
This is not your parents’ Macbeth or the one you read in high-school English class. A dark and bloody tale of a Scottish lord and his beloved wife, Macbeth: A Novel hurtles toward readers in gripping contemporary prose, thanks to novelists David Hewson and A. J. Hartley.

Set in eleventh-century Scotland, Macbeth: A Novel is rich with ancient clans battling fiercely against
Kindle Edition, 309 pages
Published May 22nd 2012 by Thomas & Mercer (first published June 11th 2011)
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If you like Shakespeare and if you enjoy audiobooks, this is a must listen! I rate books by their written content, but this one is an exception; here I am rating the audiobook. As a finished product, it is excellent. You are not getting a book that happens to be read, but a production that is made to be narrated. Alan Cumming’s Scottish narration is absolutely perfect. The story is set in Scotland. Quite simply, what I am saying is that I do not think you should read this; you should listen to t ...more
I like the idea of this, turning Macbeth into a novel, and in some respects, I thought the authors did an excellent job. Specifically, the way a novel can supply so much more about a character than a play allowed them to make the story really plausible. The Shakespeare tragedies often leave me feeling that no-one would act as their tragic heroes do, no-one be so gullible, or so blind, or so foolish. In this version, the Macbeths are quite ordinary people, with thwarted ambitions of non-pathologi ...more
Robert Delikat
As intimidating as he can be, I love Shakespeare and have since I first read Romeo and Juliet. While I have felt I never really understood all of his writing, his words and use of the English language were worth reading or listening to just for their own sake. For this reason, I had my doubts about reading/listening to this book. I mean how can you improve on Shakespeare for god's sake. Well I was not disappointed. This is one incredible book and made even better in audio-form by Audible.

This ps
Tanya Eby
I listened to the audio version of this. Perfect to cook to. I have to say that listening to Alan Cumming use his luscious Scottish accent is really delightful.

I love the approach of revisiting one of Shakespeare's plays, but still making it a new piece of writing. The book accomplishes things the play does not; but it also loses some things. The characters are a little more rounded because we get to live with them a little longer, and understand their reason for doing things. I think, though, t
Thought this was a great way to read Shakespeare. I read the play in high school but due to the complicated language most of the plot and dialogue went right over my head. If asked what happened in the play I wouldn't have been able to say much more than that there were three witches and Lady Macbeth said the line "Out damn spot." I didn't even know that the play is based on some fact (Macbeth, King Duncan, Banquo et al were real as were some of their actions). Highly recommend this to anyone wh ...more
The authors keep very much to the Shakespearian story in this novel, which makes you wonder what it has to offer. Well, the characters and the storylines are fleshed out making some, such as Lady Macbeth more sympathetic and others, such as the witches, more unsettling. This is a very atmospheric novel - you imagine without any problem the heath, the howling winds, the damp dark weather and the endless wars and violence. Excellent book, with lots of information at the end about who Macbeth reall ...more
Alan Williams
Think you know the tale of Macbeth?

Think again.

This retelling of the tale by David Hewson and A J Hartley is just simply amazing. Bringing a new depth to the story, this is no repeating the original Shakespeare but an inspired reworking, incredibly bought to life by the vocal talents of Alan Cumming.
Jennifer (JC-S)
‘Macbeth brought down his sword and the army roared into life.’

Duncan’s kingdom is crumbling: beset by sedition internally and overseas threats externally. Macbeth, war hero and patriot, is doing his best to hold the kingdom together. But when Duncan’s thoughts turn towards establishing a hereditary dynasty, contrary to ancient Scots tradition, Macbeth and his wife Skena make their own plans. Encouraged by the weird sisters, they make their own choices. But choices have consequences, and lead Ma
I'm a huge fan of Shakespeare and Macbeth is one of my favorites of his plays. I read it originally in high school and have since seen 5 different productions of it. When I heard that A.J. Hartley (who has written about Shakespeare) and David Hewson had worked on an audio-only novelization, I was cautiously optimistic. When it went on sale at, I jumped in.

Hartley and Hewson did a great job at bringing the play to a novel. As Hartley said in the Afterword, they added parts where they
Karen Young
I wasn't sure I'd like a re-telling of "The Scottish Play", but this was an incredible listen, made especially great by Alan Cumming's engaging narration. The author of this book, a Shakespeare scholar, has
fleshed out the characters and some of the scenes beyond what is possible in the play. I was reminded how much the prose and the events of this play continue to influence us today. Oh! And that "something wicked this way comes" is uttered by one of the "weird sisters". If you're a Lord of the
A must for every Macbeth fan! Entirely enthralling in content and narration. The writers give Macbeth and his entourage flesh and bones, taking the play to a grittier level that, at the same time, opens doors to understanding the tragic couples's actions. This is not a descent into madness, but a fatal journey triggered by blind ambition and wrong decisions. Masterful!
J.F. Penn
Seriously amazing. I couldn't put it down. A brilliant piece of evocative writing. The first scene with the witches on the heath is stunning. It's both resonant of the best of Shakespeare but also original. A masterful retelling, highly recommended!
Janne Varvára
This is a novel retelling of the play that I actually got over a year ago, but didn't really get started on until now.

If you've read the play, it won't hold that many surprises; it's not a particularly unorthodox or imaginative retelling. It does allow us to see more of the characters' inner lives though, and I particularly enjoyed the backstories of the weird sisters, but apart from that, the novel is pretty much just a more graphic version of the same story.

Alan Cumming reads very well, but al
Blair Hodgkinson
As with Hamlet, the authors have done a good job here in translating Shakespeare's Macbeth from drama to novel form, though arguably demonstrating less unique and individual adaptive licence.

Nevertheless, the time-honoured story is well-served by the writers, who take a little time to partially address at least some of the historical background of the period and add detail to some of the characters, particularly Lady Macbeth and the porter at Macbeth's castle.

The Audible audiobook is made more e
Macbeth is a novel adaptation of Shakspeare's play. Shakespeare for modern times if you will.Macbeth and his lady Skena love Scotland and each other. Believing that they alone hold the key to Scotland's salvation,they embark on a fatal quest for power.
This play was the first of Shakespeare's work I was ever exposed to.And it was love at first read back in my sophomore year of high school. So I was excited to read this novelized version, and was not disappointed.
The novel starts at a rather s
I enjoyed this quite a bit! I was fascinated to see how these two authors would re-interpret Shakespeare’s famous play as a full-length novel. It was really engrossing! At first I felt like I only found it engrossing because, well, because of Shakespeare. However, by the end, I felt like the book stood on its own as a tale of greed and desire and their toll on the human spirit when left unchecked.

I really like the way Macbeth and his wife were fleshed out and humanized so that the reader really
The authors of this book say, "Though we bow before Shakespeare's genius and freely acknowledge that nothing we have done here could have existed without his words as a starting point, we wanted to make the story--not the play, but the story--our own." Well, they succeeded.

This book was *full* of love, hate, avarice, machination, intrigue, battle, blood, sex, turmoil, angst, misery, grief, good, evil, etc., etc. I could not put this one down! I love Shakespeare's Macbeth, but this novel pays hom
I got this because I've enjoyed Alan Cumming's reading of other books, and I did enjoy that aspect of this book. The book itself was an interesting take on the story, and I'm not a Shakespearean purist or anything, so I thought the new twist and format was interesting. However, I didn't enjoy how completely bleak and horrible so much of this book was. There's murder, of course, but that includes the murder of children and innocents and loyal friends. There's a horrible, despicable king who deser ...more
Picking up this book, I worried it would be like reading the cheesy novelization of a popular movie. I realize there's a giant step between The Scottish Play and Star Trek: First Contact, but would A.J. Hartley and friend?

Luckily, while Macbeth: A Novel stayed true to the concepts of Macbeth: A Play, it didn't try to recreate the theatrical experience in novel format. The Bard and his words are here, but they take backseat to the idea of telling a good story.

One of the best and most surprising
Sherry (bogiewine)
I am so glad this was on audio! The narration by Alan Cumming is inspired, and in a word ... brilliant. The listener is immediately drawn in from the very first scene with the weird sisters, which establishes the creepy, foreboding tone from the start. A glimpse into the role the sisters play is provided which lets us know we are in for something different than what might be expected. We know this story is going to lend greater insight into the motivations of the characters. The sisters are witc ...more
Clarissa Simmens
In the 60s it was Barbara Garson's MacBird!, the play with a barely-disguised accusation of JFK's assassination being engineered by Lyndon and Lady Bird Johnson. (My mother found my hiding place and burned the book because she felt it was anti-American!). Now, in the Age of Aquarius, it's the novel, depicting the Macbeths, Shakespeare's villains, as characters worthy of the reader's sympathy and admiration. This reader, who readily believed the insinuations in the play MacBird! when reading it a ...more
God bless Shakespeare - the man knew a great story when he saw one. His tragedy of the Scottish king Macbeth echoes across the ages, and not just because Shakespeare wrote some of the best lines in the English language. This bloody tale of greed and guilt ensnares you, never to let you go.

So why novelize one of the greatest plays ever written? Well, because reading a play can be a challenge, to put it bluntly - there's a reason that we attend plays and read novels. Authors A.J. Hartley and David
Kevin Hanks
I've always been fascinated by this story of Macbeth, and was very intrigued that someone would try to tell the story in the form of a novel. I also liked the fact that one of the writers is a seasoned Shakespeare professor. I thought he did a great job of developing the characters so you came to actually like Macbeth, his wife, and the other characters. It was painful (as it should be) to watch them descend past successive bad decisions until they hated and loathed themselves.

I listened to the
I thoroughly enjoyed this audiobook, the story as well as the performance. I was never bored.
At first I wanted to understand the story and the characters of Shakespeare’s play, since I felt I was missing out on something important. Of course I’ve heard so much about Lady MacBeth, Duncan, Macduff, and Banquo, and all, and have a general idea of the story, but the depth and beauty of it was beyond me. Shakespeare’s works, for me, are just that - work, not enjoyment.
I certainly got what I was look
This book is a great adaptation of the play. The novel format lends itself well to Shakespeare - the characters are more drawn out and easier to relate to. Hartley (a Shakespeare professor) and Hewson show great reverence for the play with the changes they've made. The conflicts are more drawn out. The writers establish a broader historical context that the drama is played against while still maintain the intimate balance of the individual character arcs. In particular, Lord and Lady Macbeth (sh ...more
How many movies have you seen that were based on books? Many times it's disappointing when they take a book that took 10 or 20 hours to read, and chop it down to a 2 hour movie.
In this book's case, it's the reverse--the authors, one a journalist and the other a Professor of Shakespeare Studies, have taken Shakespeare's play "Macbeth" and expanded the story to encompass a more in-depth development of the characters, and their motivations, along with a better understanding of the political situati
I loved this book. The story is, of course, as tragic as one would expect, but the writing and characters are so vivid -- every scene, every castle, every battle, the gorse and heather and moors of Scotland are brought to life, as are the visceral emotions of the characters -- the guilt and pain and remorse and revenge and grief and anguish and ambition and greed and lust -- everything that makes Macbeth the fabulous story it is. It's not Shakespeare, of course, but as a novel it is uniquely abl ...more
I originally thought that this was a different Macbeth story than the Shakespeare tale -- and I was right and wrong. Wrong in that it is a variation on the Shakespeare tale and not the actual real history of Macbeth as is generally known. But I was right in that, while it is the same story as the Shakespeare tale - it is a more fully flushed out story - more intricate, better character development of the other characters, and for a modern world - much more satisfying. Actually quite brilliant. I ...more
Full Review:

What I did find interesting — and actually enjoyed — was the absence of the mystical. Yes, the witches still make an appearance in all of their conniving glory. Yes they make prophecies that motivate characters to do things that they would normally not consider. But there is a marked lack of ghosts as manifestations of the internal struggle of men. The focus that Hartley and Hewson amplifies is not the setting of a chain of events into motion,
This was nicely done. I enjoyed it.

(Don't listen to before bed.)
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Audio-Bibliophiles: Macbeth Give-a-way!! (Completed 7/25/12) 9 37 Aug 01, 2012 01:40PM  
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“The only sheets I'll ever long for are my own.” 12 likes
“To watch. To wait. To wonder at a world in chaos,' the girl said. 'And hope one day you fools might learn.” 10 likes
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