Banquo's Son Trilogy
I have been teaching Shakespeare for twenty years (and first discovered him at high school - yay).
I've always wondered what happened after the play 'Macbeth' ended. It has been a question I've posed
to my students and myself many times. I have also been writing for about fifteen years and, with over
twenty books published from a range of genres (YA, plays, English text books, texts of Shakespeare,
parenting etc etc), I thought I would finally throw myself into this project.
So, what did happen after the play ended? You might think there was no one left of any interest but one
character came so vividly in a dream to my one night, I knew I had a story - and a big story it was going
This is the story of Fleance, Banquo's son, who escaped Macbeth's attempt to murder him. The novel begins ten years later in the northern woods of England where Fleance has been living, not revealing to anyone who is truly is. He is madly in love with Rosie but, just recently, he has been having terrible dreams and visits from his dead father reminding him that the last words Banquo uttered before he died were "Fly, good Fleance Fly that thou may'st revenge."
What's a boy to do?
“Yet my heart
Throbs to know one thing: tell me, if your art
Can tell so much: shall Banquo's issue ever
Reign in this kingdom?”
Macbeth, Act IV, Scene I
As Macbeth was posing the frantic question above to the Three Witches, the murdered Banquo’s young son, Fleance, was running for his life through the forest toward England. As a child of ten, ruling Scotland was less a priority to him than surviving the night. It is now ten years later, and Flea (as he is now called), is living in England, no longer a child. He has been raised by a stolid but loving family; has a beautiful first girlfriend, Rosie; and an empty heart that will not be satisfied until he returns to Scotland to meet his destiny.
Tania Roxborogh’s extraordinary novel, BANQUO’S SON, does justice to its backstory.
It is filled with knights, battles, damsels (in distress and otherwise), the treachery of court and the desires of ambitious men. There is a hero you love, and another you mourn. (At different times this past month, three young Writers House interns sat in the office with tears streaming down their cheeks with 50 pages to go.) Flea meets up with kings and Pretenders, makes alliances and sees terrible treachery. He fights to keep Rosie even as circumstances (and her father and Flea’s inability to ever say the right thing to him) keep them apart; and he is drawn to the lovely and virtuous Rachel, sister of his best friend (and King of Scotland) who may be more appropriate as a future wife for him. Flea grows up too quickly during the course of BANQUO’S SON, and his destiny remains tied to Macbeth’s frantic query to the Three Witches.
Roxborogh’s characters are complex; the emotions are real; the friendships, love affairs and heartbreaks transcend the 11th Century exactly as they should. It is absolutely clear to me that this is a book, and a series, with the potential to break through into the zeitgeist.
BANQUO’S SON was published to great acclaim in New Zealand by Penguin NZ:
In 2009, debuted at number three on the adult best sellers’ list in New Zealand and then enjoyed six weeks on the list.
Was awarded the inaugural YA Award for 2010 from LIANZA (Library and Information Association of New Zealand Aotearoa).
Was awarded a Notable Book Award for 2010 by the Storylines Children’s Literature Foundation of New Zealand.
Was nominated for the New Zealand Post Children’s Book Award 2010 in the Young Adult category.
BLOODLINES (book two) was selected by The New Zealand Listener as one of the top 50 Children’s books for 2010 (NZ and international books) alongside such books as Patrick Ness’s Monsters of Men and Annexed to name a two others on the list of 14 books.