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King Hereafterby Dorothy Dunnett
Synopses & Reviews
When the year one thousand came, Thorkel Amundason was five years old, and hardly noticed how frightened everyone was. By the time Canute ruled England, Thorkel was nineteen and had heard as much about the old scare as he wanted, from the naked lips of men who might be able to read and to write, but who wouldn't know one end of a longship from the other.
He understood that folk had thought the Day of Judgement was coming, because a thousand years had passed since the White Christ was born, in that age when the Romans had conquered the world.
All the world, that is, except for the north.
The Romans had not conquered Denmark, or Norway, or Sweden. They had not conquered Ireland, or his own Orkney islands, or Iceland to his north. They had overcome England, beginning in the toe and pushing north until they stuck on the border of Alba and built their frontier wall there, stretching from sea to sea.
The barbarians who followed the Romans had learned all about the White Christ by the time that Charlemagne and the Pope had formed their big new Empire over the ocean. The Vikings who followed the barbarians liked the old gods.
Thorkel himself had always been partial to Thor. The priests had been amazed, so it was said, at the numbers who became tired of Thor as the year one thousand got nearer. Orkney declared for Christ overnight, followed by Iceland and all those bits of Norway the King could easily get at. Ireland and Alba, of course, had followed the Cross all along.
Alba, that men later called Scotland.
As a child, Thorkel Amundason had touched Alba often enough, on his father's trading-ship going to Dublin, or as part of a young man's crew looking for booty in England.
Alba he never attacked, nor did anyone else from Orkney or Norway. At the height of the Viking invasions, the King of Alba had found a way to buy peace. He had married his only daughter and heiress to the ruler of the Orkney islands, seven miles to his north, which long ago had been settled from Norway. And the baby born of that marriage he had made child-Earl of Caithness, his northernmost province, over which for uncountable years the Earls of Orkney and the Kings of Alba had squabbled.
The Orkney-Alban marriage lasted only six years. And when the Earl of Orkney was killed and his widow went back to Alba and married again, it was Thorkel Amundason who was chosen to train and protect the half-Orkney child, their only offspring. Thorkel was twenty, then.
Twenty, and ambitious. Twenty, and the only son of the greatest household in Orkney next to the Earls'.
For a while, the sight of Thorkel Amundason rearing a foster-son was the talk of Orkney. Girls who had good cause to know Thorkel's precise views on parenthood scoffed to each other over the dye-pots. Their fathers and brothers said less.
Then there came the day when one of the child's three older Earl-brothers died, and the other two suddenly noticed how openly critical Thorkel Amundason had become of their rule, and how keen to mention the rights of his fosterling, their half-Alban brother.
The joint Earls of Orkney did not like it. You might say that Thorkel Amundason was grooming the child for a large share of Orkney. You might even say that King Malcolm of Alba was abetting him. Without warning, Orkney became a dangerous place for Thorkel Amundason.
Thorkel removed himself and the child to Cai
Uses new archeological research to recreate the life of King Macbeth of Scotland and presents a new interpretation of European history before the Roman Conquest
Back in print by popular demand--"A stunning revelation of the historical Macbeth, harsh and brutal and eloquent." --Washington Post Book World.
With the same meticulous scholarship and narrative legerdemain she brought to her hugely popular Lymond Chronicles, our foremost historical novelist travels further into the past.In King Hereafter, Dorothy Dunnett's stage is the wild, half-pagan country of eleventh-century Scotland.Her hero is an ungainly young earl with a lowering brow and a taste for intrigue.He calls himself Thorfinn but his Christian name is Macbeth.
Dunnett depicts Macbeth's transformation from an angry boy who refuses to accept his meager share of the Orkney Islands to a suavely accomplished warrior who seizes an empire with the help of a wife as shrewd and valiant as himself.She creates characters who are at once wholly creatures of another time yet always recognizable--and she does so with such realism and immediacy that she once more elevates historical fiction into high art.
About the Author
Dorothy Dunnett was born in 1923 in Dunfermline, Fife, Scotland. Her time at Gillespie's High School for Girls overlapped with that of the novelist Muriel Spark. From 1940-1955, she worked for the Civil Service as a press officer. In 1946, she married Alastair Dunnett, later editor of The Scotsman.
Dunnett started writing in the late 1950s. Her first novel, The Game of Kings, was published in the United States in 1961, and in the United Kingdom the year after. She published 22 books in total, including the six-part Lymond Chronicles and the eight-part Niccolo Series, and co-authored another volume with her husband. Also an accomplished professional portrait painter, Dunnett exhibited at the Royal Scottish Academy on many occasions and had portraits commissioned by a number of prominent public figures in Scotland.
She also led a busy life in public service, as a member of the Board of Trustees of the National Library of Scotland, a Trustee of the Scottish National War Memorial, and Director of the Edinburgh Book Festival. She served on numerous cultural committees, and was a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. In 1992 she was awarded the Office of the British Empire for services to literature. She died on November 9, 2001, at the age of 78.
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