“I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living.” ― Dr. Seuss
I had been curious about this novelization of the Shakespeare classic for some time, and after seeing it on sale decided to give it a go. I am so glad I did! 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 witches, yet so much more. They not only embody the themes of the play but are also weaved into the tapestry of the tragedies yet to unfold. We ultimately learn something of why they are there and where they come from. There is no black or white, but a multitude of shades in between. From the sisters to Macbeth and to Lady Macbeth, all are both despicable and pitiable at once. As the tension rises with each tragic event we feel sorrow, anger, frustration, heartache, shock, and consternation in turns, yet we never grow to truly hate any of them. At the heart of it we know they merely represent insight into, a warning of, the human condition. The shining threads uncoil revealing layers masking raw primordial instincts beneath. Macbeth is both brave and loyal warrior and paranoid, power-mad ruler; Lady Macbeth, heartbroken mother and ambitious schemer; the sisters, gleeful puppet-masters and helpless victims.
Ultimately it is a story about the perilous traps of greed, power, and ambition and their eventual, uttermost consequences. The authors have successfully translated these themes in a manner more accessible yet still honorable to the original. The narration by Alan Cumming is inspired, and in a word ... brilliant. Listen on if you are prepared to hold up the mirror of this centuries-spanning collaboration into the dark heart of human drive and weakness.
I am a Superintendent of several K-12 Online School programs. I travel extensively with a book in my ear hours every day.
This novel gave us all the intrigue, romance, torment, politics, obsession and passion without the difficult Elizabethan English and challenging dialogue in the original language of Shakespeare. It was well written by Shakespearian authorities and gave us the important and poignant lessons of the original. Bravo to Hartley and Hewson and we cry for more translation of the beloved playwright.
The vivid and terrifying images of “three sisters” will haunt me.
The performance and narration of the key character, Macbeth, in his thoughts, his transparency and his goodness gone bad was captivating in ways that few novels can.
As Macbeth and his wife take the plunge together into murder and despair one is chilled to the bone of how such good can succumb to such evil on in the name of what is good and right. Can anyone escape this flaw in the human condition? This novel keeps us ever before the axiom: “Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” I recently heard the King Maker and political advisor, Karl Rove, say that he learned more about politics studying Shakespeare than he did in all the Poli-Sci classes combined in his education.
Yes it's entertaining the performance is captivating
The three witches because with out them an mcbeth there is no story
The Death of mcbeths wife it almost kind of had a real frightening disposition you could feel it
I wouldn't that's blaspheme
A must read
The story and narration .
Brings a classic story to the masses.
All scenes with the 3 sisters.
When Lady McBeth met her end.
I wish there were more modern versions of these classic stories. I recently read Stephem Mitchell's modern version of The ILLIAD that was excellent also. Any suggestions for others?
Listening and comparing the story to the Shakespeare version.
The rich detail that gives a much more nuanced understanding of the motivations of the characters. It was wonderful to see everyone painted in shades of complex grays - rather than in stark black and whites.
No. I thought the narration was generally good. Though the attempt as women's voices was a little odd.
I listened to this almost non-stop during my recent vacation travels. I couldn't wait to find out what happened next - even though I already knew the story.
Eclectic mixer of books of my youth and ones I always meant to read, but didn't.
I enjoyed the beginning and the end. The Epilogue was interesting, too. I started listening hoping for "Shakespeare meets history", but I felt it was more the former and less of the latter. To be fair, this is made clear by the Epilogue, but by then my expectation had failed. I liked the grittiness. However, ignoring the apparent golden summer (about 10 years) of Macbeth's reign left me feeling like I'd missed the "good Macbeth" which the authors say they came to like. Apart from one short passage about the good things planned and mapped out on his table, we don't see the best of a character that, for all his obvious vices and faults, had, the authors might argue, noble intentions. In that we miss the chance to reflect of a not-so-modern phenomenon, replayed regularly across the world, particularly, it seems, in Africa. Worth the listen.
What an amazing book! The authors of this really transformed a Shakespearean play into a fascinating, accessible historical novel. The performance is extraordinary. The authors use lyrical prose that flows naturally, as opposed to a rigid adherence to awkward Shakespearean dialogue.
It's just a really great historical novel. I listened in one sitting!
I had read much of Shakespeare's work, but somehow I never read Macbeth. So it's a double treat for me!
I hope to see more from this writing team!
This is a hard book to review. In one sense it is very compelling and certainly the narration by Alan Cummings make the story more vivid than another narrator would.
The background premise of turning Shakespeare's play into a novel is somewhat less successful. I think the role in the story played by the 3 witches is overdone and they are far too prominent in the story. I guess somehow I prefer Shakespeare's play or Verdi's Opera to this novel.
The first part of the books is much better than the end -- after the murder of King Duncan I think the books goes downhill very rapidly and degernates into just mindless descriptions of slaughter interspersed with the witches. The books really takes too many liberties of Shakespeare and with history to be a satisfying book.
Probably not. Although this was an interesting idea it didn't really work for me. It turns out you can't really improve on Shakespeare. I never really got into this story. I more forced my way through it than enjoyed it.
Without the skill of the narrator I don't think I would have made it.
The book was downright graphic at times. I couldn't listen to it on a speaker if my daughter was around (because of the cussing and sexual content).
The personalities, motivations and passions behind school-learned names come alive in the best possible way in this book. I was enthralled by the authors' expansion of the tale into this narrative creation.
And Alan Cummins' performance was the best twist of all. His Scottish authenticity kept the characters ringing in my ears long past the end of the book.
Recommended for anyone who likes Game of Thrones, Shakespeare, or a story in which good people make bad choices.