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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
17
Heir to a Prophecy
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Great read. Would I recommend this book to other people? Yes I would including friends. I absolutely think this is great book. All opinions are my own and they are not influenced by anyone but myself.If this review helped you at all please vote yes below.
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on July 28, 2017
Can not wait to read the follow up series. If you enjoy historic fiction, and characters that whisk you away to accompany them on their journey through medieval adventures, you will love this book. I'm thoroughly enjoying this escape into another time and world.
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on May 21, 2015
I really enjoyed this book. I recommend it to anyone who loves historic fiction.
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on May 4, 2017
So good I highly recommend this book for people that like real medieval history
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on December 12, 2014
Heir to a Prophecy, by Mercedes Rochelle is an absorbing tale dealing with the prophecy told by Shakespeare's witches to Banquo, the ancestor of the royal Stewart line. "Thou Shalt"Get Kings Though Thou Be None"

The prophecy and the witches steer the fate of the books main character, Walter, son of Fleance, who is the son of Banquo. Rochelle takes the reader along for the ride of Walter's remarkable life and the people and events that happen to him. Walter is very well written and we understand his character and his motives for his decisions and why he does what he does. Supporting characters such as King Malcolm Canmore are equally well written. The author knows the period in which she writes extremely well and puts the reader into the 11th century mind set quite easily.

I am very passionate about the medieval time period and really enjoy reading books that take place in that scope of history. I especially enjoyed reading a book with such a unique plot line and being able to learn something more of the Stewart ancestry.

A fantastic author that I hope publishes many more books that I will happily read.
5 people found this helpful
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on March 1, 2015
In Shakespeare’s ‘Macbeth’, after prophesying that Macbeth ‘shalt be King hereafter’, the three witches end their prophecy with these words for Banquo:

‘Thou shalt get kings, though thou be none.’

In the play, Banquo is murdered shortly afterwards, and Fleance flees from Scotland and out of the play. But have you ever wondered what happened to Fleance afterwards? In Ms Rochelle’s novel, we follow Fleance as he escapes into Wales and joins the court of the King, Gruffydd ap Llewelyn. Fleance meets Gruffydd’s daughter Nesta. They have a child together, a son named Walter. It is through Walter that the witches’ prophecy will eventually be fulfilled, and it is Walter who is the main character in this novel.

‘It takes more than an unfortunate birth to dishonour a man.’

Ms Rochelle has woven fact and fiction with elements of fantasy in her portrayal of some of the key events of the 11th century. From Scotland to Wales we accompany Fleance, from Wales to England, Scotland and France we accompany Walter as he grows from a youth into a responsible adult. Walter becomes friends with Malcolm, son of Duncan, who will become King of Scotland in 1058. Harold Godwinson and William of Normandy will fight for the crown of England in 1066. And every so often, Walter will be visited by the witches, mostly through his dreams:

‘The Norns seem to have an interest in my future. I believe in them.’

I enjoyed this novel. I’m familiar with Shakespeare’s ‘Macbeth’, as well as portrayals of Macbeth in a number of novels of historical fiction. While Shakespeare’s Macbeth provides a starting point for Ms Rochelle’s novel, and the prophecy by the witches (the weird sisters or the Norns) provides a connection to the play, the novel itself is not bound by the play. Banquo, Fleance and Walter may be fictional characters, but many of the other characters are historical, as are many of the events portrayed. I particularly enjoyed how Ms Rochelle portrayed the challenges faced by Malcolm as he became King of Scotland. If you enjoy well-written historical fiction grounded in fact, and if you ever wondered what happened to Fleance after Banquo was murdered, you may well enjoy this novel.

Note: I was offered, and accepted, a copy of this novel for review purposes.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith
2 people found this helpful
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on December 19, 2014
I have not read MacBeth but that did not cause any problems with my enjoyment of Heir to a Prophecy. I had in fact, minimal knowledge about the story; I knew the main characters and the basics of the story but that was it. What I’m trying to impart is to not let a lack of knowing that story stop you from reading this one. If you do you will miss out on a really good book.

What you are getting in this story is a little bit of fantasy, a lot of war (blood and guts and all but it was a brutal time.) a little bit of romance and a ripping good tale of how the Stuart line came to be. It’s a period in history that I have not read much about so it was fascinating to me. Ms. Rochelle really knows how to bring a period to life and this was one of those books where I didn’t want to put it down and I truly felt as if I was living the story.

It starts with the murder of Banquo and moves through his son, Fleance’s life but really focuses on Banquo’s grandson, Walter, for it is through Walter that the witches prophecy will come true. Walter is at times a reluctant participant in his own life but he is a smart man who learns to control his temper and ultimately follows his path. I loved this character. Of course it’s all a mash up of fiction and fact but it is done so well that i was lost in the story and didn’t care. I followed up afterward to sort what was what as I always do.

The book is a page turner, well researched and just a fascinating look at a lost time in the history of Scotland and Wales. The record that is left is woven together with the bits from MacBeth and the author’s imagination to take the reader on a trip through time that won’t be forgotten.

*I received a free copy for my honest review
One person found this helpful
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on August 9, 2015
Get out of the way, Philippa Gregory! There’s a new sheriff in town.

Or, considering the historical setting, should I say “high sheriff.”

Maybe “steward” (an important official who manages another's property or financial affairs) might be even more accurate, because Mercedes Rochelle has entered the popular and competitive historical fiction field with Heir to a Prophecy. This tale follows a family from a penniless young man exiled from the court of Macbeth, the Scottish king made famous by Shakespeare, to becoming the first steward of Scotland. The story takes place during the early mid-11th century in Anglo-Saxon England, Wales, and Scotland. Rochelle tells the story in her own unique way that transcends genres and comfortable conventions, combining hints of the supernatural, hard-edged geopolitics, and historical characters presented as believable human beings living in that place and time. She uses well-researched details to depict scenes of home and hearth as well as cataclysmic battles.

The story starts with an excerpt from a scene in Macbeth, probably familiar to most of us, though it might be considered a throw-away scene. This is early in Shakespeare’s play, when Banquo and his son, Fleance, are leaving a banquet given by the ambitious Macbeth, and are attacked in a base betrayal.

Here is the excerpt from the original:

BANQUO: It will be rain tonight.

FIRST MURDERER: Let it come down.

The MURDERERS attack BANQUO

BANQUO: O treachery! Fly, good Fleance, fly, fly, fly!

Here is Rochelle’s spin:

It was a quiet night, punctuated by the crunch of stones underfoot. Not a cricket was heard – nor birds – only the sigh of leaves rustling far overhead. “It shall be rain tonight,” Banquo said. From behind came the cry: “Let it come down!” In an instant, three dark forms were among them. Banquo was their main target, and two of them fell upon him, slashing the startled man in the face. The worthy lord was blinded by his own blood even as he shouted, “Villains, Murderers! Fly, Fleance, Fly!”

Fleance escapes, but where Shakespeare drops the father and son from his story, Rochelle traces the family through Fleance, his illegitimate son, Walter, and ultimately Walter becoming the first Steward of Scotland.

And the witches? What would any story with any connection to Macbeth be without the witches that Shakespeare included in his play? Some of us would have been tempted to turn the story over to the supernatural elements, which at that time and place were as real as the rocks or sky. The author, however, took a different approach. She incorporates the occult, allowing the witches to be seen and heard, but more as a whisper than a shout. They prophesize about Banquo’s lineage, but to what end? (Hint: Take a close look at the title.)

Making these fantastic elements easier to believe is that they are slipped in as easily as political intrigues, military strategies, and vivid, concrete, descriptions, such as at the Battle of Dunsinane:

Seward saw the danger and retreated, finding himself among friends, who had come to his aid. Together, four of them attacked the horseman, who reared up his mount, using the sharpened horseshoes to ward them off. He didn’t see the fifth man leap up from behind and throw crushing arms around his waist. The Norman was pulled from his horse slashing wildly with his sword. His random stroke met with flesh, but he didn’t know how successful he was; a blow to his face finished him off before he hit the ground…

Heir is the Rochelle's first published book in a planned series exploring the late Anglo-Saxon period. Rochelle has a rich vein to explore, and she seems to a good candidate to become not sheriff, but steward, of these riches.

NOTE: I received this book from the author, free in exchange for writing an honest review. I wasn't asked to leave a positive review, nor was I paid or otherwise compensated for my review.
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on March 10, 2015
Any one fascinated by Shakespeare's Macbeth will love the question behind Mercedes Rochelle's debut book: How do the sons of Banquo come to rule Scotland? The three weird sisters tell Macbeth's companion that "Thou shalt get kings, though thou be none" - a promise that sets in motion the deadly events of the famous play.

Heir To A Prophecy (Hampshire: Top Hat Books, 2014) follows a fragmented trail through Scottish history - tracing the line from Banquo's son Fleance to King James Ist of England - with a similar mix of fact, fiction, and supernatural interference as found in the original tale. We know that Banquo is murdered on Macbeth's orders, but that his son Fleance escapes. In Rochelle's version he goes into exile in Wales at the court of Gruffydd ap Llewelyn, where he woos and impregnates the king's daughter, Nesta.

Nesta bears an illegitimate son called Walter, who enlists in Harold Goodwineson's service and ends up fighting at Dunsinane and Hastings. Along the way he befriends Prince Malcolm, King Duncan's heir to the Scottish throne. Years later, Walter settles in Malcolm's court and is rewarded for his services, becoming the first Steward of Scotland. This legitimizes his position, and prepares the way for future descendants of the royal house of Stuart.

Rochelle's portrayal of the three witches is particularly interesting. They appear at various points in her story to advance their original prophecy, but rather than being the weird old hags of Shakespeare's era they are associated with the Norns of Scandinavian mythology - fates who control mankind's destiny. But aside from this nod to the bard, Rochell wisely does not attempt to imitate one of the great literary masterpieces with a sophisticated, high-brow response. Instead she writes a plain, rollicking tale that should have broad appeal for those readers who like a fast-paced romp through history.

This novel is nicely edited and presented. The setting, however, is too broad a time-period to examine and explore the various situations in any great depth. Heir[s] To A Prophecy could well have been a whole series, with each book focusing on one central character - Fleance, Walter, and so on!
One person found this helpful
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on December 13, 2014
Those familiar with Shakespeare’s Macbeth will recognize from this story the characters of Banquo, Fleance and the Three Weird Sisters. While they set the stage, the protagonist throughout most of the narrative is Walter Stewart—beginning with his early life as a Welsh outcast, to his glory days as the King of Scots’ confidante. Malcom III’s defeat over Macbeth, William the Conqueror’s Battle of Hastings and the subsequent uprisings in Northern England are among the action filled pages.

This story is a perfect introduction to 11th century Scotland, England and Wales (and even a bit of Brittany), with minute descriptions of the kingdoms and their people and ways of life. I tend to read and review books with a female protagonist, but had no trouble emphasizing with Walter and his plight. Anyone interested in the events of the 1066 Norman invasion of England will find a detailed account, with particular eloquence regarding battle scenes that even those not inclined to war novels will appreciate. There is a bit of romance, never overly described, and a host of admirable characters. Walter’s transition is the most remarkable facet of the novel, and I would liken him to Elizabeth Chadwick’s William Marshal from The Greatest Knight and The Scarlet Lion. I was also intrigued to meet several characters mentioned in Jean Plaidy’s Norman trilogy.
3 people found this helpful
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