Heir to a Prophecy

Written by Mercedes Rochelle
Review by Frank Flaherty

The prophecy mentioned in the title of Mercedes Rochelle’s book Heir to a Prophecy is one that will be familiar to anybody who has ever read Shakespeare’s Macbeth: that the line of Banquo, not Macbeth, will eventually furnish forth the royal house of Scotland. The luckless Banquo’s heir, Fleance, is exiled and Rochelle’s book centers around Fleance’s son, Walter, as we follow him from obscurity and fear to a position of power in the Scottish realm. Rochelle all the while very skilfully blends Shakespeare pastiche (we get alternate versions of many of characters from the play, generally rendered with more factual accuracy) and an adventure story with particularly high stakes.

The rulers and ambitious strivers of England, France, and Scotland, from King Malcolm to William the Conqueror, to his son William Rufus, are dramatized with a fine skill for humanizing, and the best of these creations is Walter himself. At times he a stern and complicated man who very much dislikes the thought that he is fortune’s plaything. The scene-setting is expertly done, and in particular the portrayal of high-stakes international intrigue positively breathes with menace. Recommended.