Review: Queen Hereafter by Susan Fraser King

by Susan Fraser King

Publication Date:  December 7, 2010
Crown Publishing
352p


SYNOPSIS:  Refugee. Queen. Saint. In eleventh-century Scotland, a young woman strives to fulfill her destiny despite the risks . . .

Shipwrecked on the Scottish coast, a young Saxon princess and her family—including the outlawed Edgar of England—ask sanctuary of the warrior-king Malcolm Canmore, who shrewdly sees the political advantage. He promises to aid Edgar and the Saxon cause in return for the hand of Edgar’s sister, Margaret, in marriage.

A foreign queen in a strange land, Margaret adapts to life among the barbarian Scots, bears princes, and shapes the fierce warrior Malcolm into a sophisticated ruler. Yet even as the king and queen build a passionate and tempestuous partnership, the Scots distrust her. When her husband brings Eva, a Celtic bard, to court as a hostage for the good behavior of the formidable Lady Macbeth, Margaret expects trouble. Instead, an unlikely friendship grows between the queen and her bard, though one has a wild Celtic nature and the other follows the demanding path of obligation.

Torn between old and new loyalties, Eva is bound by a vow to betray the king and his Saxon queen. Soon imprisoned and charged with witchcraft and treason, Eva learns that Queen Margaret—counseled by the furious king and his powerful priests—will decide her fate and that of her kinswoman Lady Macbeth. But can the proud queen forgive such deep treachery?

Impeccably researched, a dramatic page-turner, Queen Hereafter is an unforgettable story of shifting alliances and the tension between fear and trust as a young woman finds her way in a dangerous world.

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What struck me the most when I read Susan Fraser King’s first novel, Lady MacBeth, was the way she was able to suck me in within the first page. Well, I can happily say that the same thing happened with her newest release, Queen Hereafter: A Novel of Margaret of Scotland.

Margaret, the daughter of an exiled prince and granddaughter to Edmund Ironside, was raised in the strictly religious Hungarian court. Her father is called back to England, but dies shortly after and following a series of events she and her family leave England and travel to the court of King Malcolm III of Scotland for protection. However safety comes with a price that only she can pay with her hand in marriage. As dutiful as Margaret is, she is less than thrilled at marrying this rough, brutish man who ignores and disgusts her but resolves herself to the inevitable and vows to be the best queen possible. It’s hard to think that with the rocky start to their relationship and given that they seem to be total opposites, Margaret and Malcolm have one of the most successful (with all of their eight children living to adulthood)and happy marriages in royal couple history. And though the people of Scotland did not want a Saxon queen, they come to love her for her charity and kindnesses. After reading about the innate goodness in Margaret, it comes as no surprise to me that she is now known as a Saint.

Marriage of Malcolm and Margaret

In Queen Hereafter we also reunite with Lady MacBeth and meet her granddaughter, daughter of the murdered King Lulach, Eva. Eva, an accomplished bard, knowing her destiny lay elsewhere, she leaves the court of her grandmother and answers Malcolm’s summons that she come to his court as a royal hostage to keep Lady MacBeth in check and behaving. As Malcolm is Lady MacBeth’s enemy she is loath to send her beloved granddaughter to the lion’s den, but word has come to her that Malcolm has commission a historical account which would not paint MacBeth and Lulach in very glowing terms and Eva could be in a position to secretly find out more about the document. But when Eva and Margaret grow close she begins to feel bad about betraying her new friend and when she gets caught its Margaret who will seal her fate.

Wonderfully written and hard to put down Queen Hereafter is a fantastic read that I highly recommend to any lover of historical fiction!


For more information please visit Susan Fraser King's WEBSITE.

FTC DISCLOSURE: A review copy was sent to my by the publisher in return for a fair and honest review.

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8 comments:

  1. Everyone seems to really like this one - I'm looking forward to reading it!

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  2. I loved this story. I found it to be a very fascinating read. Margaret is admirable, and I liked Malcom as well. Their lives are intriguing. Like you, it engaged me right from the start, and I had a hard time putting the book down.

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  3. This sounds so good! Hoping I get my hands on it soon!

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  4. I LOVED this book so much that I just flew right through it and was sad when I came to the end....I wanted it to go on and on and on, lol!

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  5. I do want to read this book so much. glad to hear it is good

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  6. I am so excited to be starting this book next week! I am eager to read Lady MacBeth as well. It seems I have some good books ahead of me :)

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  7. Sucked in by the first few pages? I'm down with that. Love books that do that to you. Thanks my Georgia Peach for the lovely review :)

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