Review: Macbeth, A.J. Hartley

Rating: 3 out of 5

A retelling of the classic Shakespeare play ‘Macbeth’, this book probably doesn’t come to surprise anyone. The authors’ endnote describes them trying to stick to a balance between historical realism and Shakespeare authenticity with emphasis on the latter. This has been achieved, but this achievement is accompanied by lacklustre prose. Akira Kurosawa’s ‘Throne of Blood’ is still a better retelling of the story.

The three witches were written in a particularly uninspired way while they were brought into the storyline more often than necessarily useful. Macbeth and Banquo I liked, or at least the way they were introduced—with the fighting against the Norwegians and traitorous Scots that’s actually not a part of the play per se.

The most revealing—and well thought out—in this version are the discussions between Duncan and Macbeth, and Macbeth and his wife. Yet, even though the authors have tried to emphasise Macbeth’s fall, it takes place in a very short timeframe and it didn’t read particularly well. Despite Shakespeare’s approach to this, people trying to turn the story into fiction would have done better to beef it up and develop at a slower pace.

Nevertheless, this is what we have. I’ll be returning to Kurosawa’s version before I’ll return to this, but it was decent enough for me to consider reading it again at some point.

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