Lady Macbeth

Lady Macbeth

by

Susan King

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Bodhe Character Analysis

Father to Gruadh and Farquhar, mormaer of Fife, and husband of Dolina and Ailsa, who dies during childbirth. Bodhe is a respected and powerful warrior. He believes in certain traditions, such as the non-lineal Celtic style of succession, but is willing to compromise on others—for example, he allows Gruadh to learn sword craft and even gifts her a helmet and ceremonial amour, even though women are rarely taught to fight. Bodhe cares about his family and his lineage more than anything else. He marries Gruadh to Gilcomgan when she is only fifteen because he knows she will be safer with a husband to protect her and she will no longer be vulnerable to kidnapping attempts and forced marriages. He also sees this marriage as a way to further his family line, and is pleased that, when Gruadh marries Macbeth, she has an even stronger claim to the throne than before. Bodhe understands and accepts that he will never be king, but takes steps to ensure that those who share his bloodline will be. He is killed by agents of King Malcolm, along with his grandson Malcolm mac Farquhar.

Bodhe Quotes in Lady Macbeth

The Lady Macbeth quotes below are all either spoken by Bodhe or refer to Bodhe . For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
History, Memory, and Storytelling  Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Three Rivers Press edition of Lady Macbeth published in 2008.
Chapter 1 Quotes

Because I am descended in a direct line from Celtic kings, the purest royal blood courses through me and blushes my skin. I could prick a finger and it would be gold to some.

I am Gruadh inghean Bodhe mac Cineadh mhic Dubh […] My lineage combines the ancient royal branches of Scotland […] Because a man could claim the throne of Scotland by marrying me, I was not safe. Nor were my kinsmen, come to that: if they were killed, one after another, our line would be eliminated at its heart, making room for others’ ambitions. Such is the way of things when one’s heritage is ancient, pure, and royal.

Little good did the blood of ancients do me. I was like a lark spiraling upward, unaware of the hawks above judging time and distance to the prize.

Related Characters: Gruadh / Rue / Lady Macbeth (speaker), Macbeth, Bodhe , Gilcomgan
Page Number: 9
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 2 Quotes

“A princess of Scotland has no use of those skills.”
“Scathach was also a princess,” I pointed out. “Scathach of the old legends, who had a school for fighting on the Isle of Skye and taught the heroes of the Fianna their skills—”

“I know the tale,” he said curtly. “Those were older days. It is not your place to fight, but ours to defend you, if need be.” […]

“I am your direct heir now,” I reminded Bodhe. “I must be prepared, since you say I could be a queen one day, and my husband a king. So men will always argue over me, and more deaths will occur on my account.” […]

“You have a warrior spirit,” he admitted, “for a gently raised daughter.”

“Scathach of Skye,” I reminded. “No one would have stolen her away.”

Page Number: 18
Explanation and Analysis:

Our priest baptized the child to protect her soul, and the midwives bathed her in warm milk and lifted her in their hands as they spoke charms against all manner of ills: fire, drowning, illness and injury, fairies, bewitchings, elf bolts, all conceivable harms. Bodhe named his new daughter Brigid to further protect her. Yet within days, Ailsa and tiny Brigid were buried together on a hill overlooking the sea, and I, who heard equally the catechism and the Celtic tales, wondered if their souls would travel to heaven or Tír na n’Óg, the paradise beyond Ireland in the misty realm, which our bard spoke about. […]

“Ailsa of Argyll is dead,” [Father Anselm] said bluntly, stopping, “and her soul needs our prayers, not trinkets, so that she may be forgiven by the grace of God. Perhaps she need only spend a little time in purgatory before her soul is purified of sin.”

“My mother will go straight to heaven on the strength of her character,” I said. “Though she might prefer Tír na n’Óg, where she would not be judged.”

Related Characters: Gruadh / Rue / Lady Macbeth (speaker), Father Anselm (speaker), Bodhe , Ailsa , Brigid
Page Number: 21
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 7  Quotes

“The truth is in what Moray offers,” [Bodhe] said. “Every mormaer of that region has an ancient right tot be called Rí a Moreb, king of Moray. His wife can be called ban-rí, queen. Just now, Gilcomgan and King Malcolm support one another. But if the Rí a Moreb ever summoned men to revolt, the strength of that army would be such that the mormaer of Moray could himself be king over all Scotland.”

“And marriage to me could ensure that for Gilcomgan. Or for our son,” I added. […] He looked hard at me. “Even carrying the blood of Celtic kings, you cannot rule alone. You need a strong and ambitious husband.
“Our blood needs one,” I corrected bitterly.

Related Characters: Gruadh / Rue / Lady Macbeth (speaker), Bodhe (speaker), Gilcomgan , Thorfin Sigurdsson, King Malcolm
Page Number: 58
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 8  Quotes

“Often the meaning of the omens we see it not clear until later. If we knew too much about the future, we might be afraid to step from our houses. Do not fret—the signs you saw speak of Scotland’s future even more than your own.”
“Scotland?” I blinked. “Because of the warriors and symbols of warfare?”
“Perhaps they will be Rue’s husbands in future,” Bethoc said. “Well, not all of them,” she amended when I gaped at her.

Mairi took my hands in hers and closed her eyes. “Two husbands,” she said. “Three, if you so choose. Like most women you will have a share of happiness and measures of sorrow. Unlike most, you will have… power.” She let go of my fingers. “You can draw strength from within yourself, like water from a well. Your mother gave you the sign of the good Brigid on your shoulder,” she went on, touching my upper sleeve, which covered the symbol. “Call upon that protection whenever you need it.”

Related Characters: Gruadh / Rue / Lady Macbeth (speaker), Bethoc (speaker), Mairi (speaker), Macbeth, Bodhe , Gilcomgan , Ailsa , The Goddess Brigid
Related Symbols: The Triskele
Page Number: 64
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 9  Quotes

At one point, King Malcolm himself carried his great-grandson and held him out to King Cnut. The prince, at two years old a sturdy handful, set up a lusty caterwauling, so that both men looked annoyed. Still, the message was clear: young Malcolm mac Duncan of Scotland had made a symbolic homage to the ruler of England.

And it was clear to those watching that in making his great-grandson pledge to England, old Malcolm was declaring that his line, grandson to son, would be kings hereafter. […]

The child’s mother, Lady Sybilla, stepped forward to take her boy from her father-by-law. I was among the retinue of women who walked with her, and she turned to give the squalling child to me. He struggled to get down, and I set him on his feet, taking his hand. He pulled me along rather like a ram dragging its shepherd. Others were amused, but I felt a strange sense, like a weight on my shoulders, on my soul.

And then, with a shudder, I knew it for an omen of the future—myself, and all of us gathered that day were linked to this moment as if by the tug of a heavy chain.

Page Number: 79
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 13  Quotes

Together they had conspired to kill Gilcomgan and wrest Moray from him. Macbeth had overtaken my future, and my child’s, out of his own ambition and desire for revenge. My fingers let go the clutched yarn, red strands unraveling like blood to pool on the floor. I turned to leave, to suppress my anger, as Bodhe might have done. But I was not my father.

Swords sparked bright against the wall, where a few of them leaned, unused. One of them was my own. I snatched it up and turned back to face the men. “Upon this sword, which Bodhe gave to me,” I said, “I swear to protect my child from all your cold scheming. Listen to me,” I said through my teeth when Macbeth stepped forward. “No more of Bodhe’s blood shall suffer for your ambitions!”

They stood still, king, husband, and housecarls. An oath made on a blade was a fierce thing and never taken lightly. I wanted them to understand that I was not helpless, no pawn to stand by while their plans destroyed by father’s proud line. Wild Celtic blood ran strong in me, a legacy of warriors, warrior queens, and sword oaths. It was not the wisest thing I have done; it was something foolish, something brave.

Related Characters: Gruadh / Rue / Lady Macbeth (speaker), Macbeth (speaker), King Malcolm (speaker), Bodhe , Gilcomgan , Finlach , Farquhar mac Bodhe
Page Number: 104
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 17  Quotes

Yet I had to master my temper, as he had done, and stay. Obligation to my kin group demanded that I remain with Moray’s new mormaer, who had no equal among other warlords. Fate had set me in this situation, after all.
I frowned, for he left something unsaid. “What purpose do you see in this union?”

One hand on the door, he turned back. “Together we can tap the power of your legacy and mine,” he said quietly, “and take Scotland under our rule.”

There. He said outright what I, and others, suspected. I straightened my shoulders. This, then, was what Bodhe wanted, and what generations of my kin deserved in their honor. “A thing like that turns on loyalty,” I said, “or falters for lack of it.”

He nodded. “It does.”

“Well enough,” I said, watching him. An agreement of sorts.

Related Characters: Gruadh / Rue / Lady Macbeth (speaker), Macbeth (speaker), Bodhe , Catriona of Kinlossie
Page Number: 153
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 18  Quotes

“There must be some kind of justice and recompense for these deaths!”
“Justice will be brought,” Macbeth said low.

“When?” I asked, splaying my hands, slim fingered and beringed, on the table. Such feminine hands for such hard masculine thoughts. The urge sprang in me like a dark wolf within. I did not like it, but fed it nonetheless. It is the way of things, Bodhe would have said. “When will you avenge my kinsmen? Tomorrow? A year from now?” […]

“If one of Bodhe’s bloodline held the throne someday,” my husband then said, “it would be far more lasting revenge than bloodshed now.”

Page Number: 172
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 19  Quotes

“The old legends are filled with such women—the great Irish queen, Macha, and Princess Scathach of Skye, who trained warriors in her fighting school, and also her sister Aoife, who bested Cu Chulainn and bore his son […] Celtic women have fought beside their men since before the names of kings were remembered. And even though Rome forbids Gaelic women to fight, it is rightful enough according to our customs.”

“They forbid with good reason,” Maeve said, bouncing Lulach on her lap. “Women have enough to do and should not have to go out and fight men’s battles, too.” […]

“The eyes of the Church cannot easily see beyond the mountains of the Gaels,” I said, “where warlike behavior in a woman is not sinful heresy, and is sometimes even necessary.” And I remembered my early vows—as a girl taking up a sword to defend herself, as a woman swearing on a sword to defend her own. Another facet of my obligation to my long legacy came clear: if others were so set on eliminating my line, and I and Lulach the last of it, then I would be steadfast as any warrior.

Related Characters: Gruadh / Rue / Lady Macbeth (speaker), Aella (speaker), Bethoc (speaker), Maeve (speaker), Bodhe , Lulach , Dolina, Scathach of Skye
Page Number: 177
Explanation and Analysis:

“Your weapons practice and your desire for vengeance,” Maeve told me one day, “are hardening you, dulling the bed of your womb. How can you expect to conceive a child when you feed yourself on spite and anger? Those are poisons for the body.”

She made me think, I admit, and she made me wonder. But I did not stop, not then. […]

“Your wish for vengeance is sinful,” [Father Osgar] told me one day after confession, when we walked a little. “But it is understandable. Let prayer and faith heal you.”
“I cannot give it up,” I said. “I am not yet done with this.”

“Give it up or keep it close,” he answered, “but know that until you find some peace in your heart, I will pray on your behalf. Grief is sometimes like a sharp-toothed demon that gets hold of our hearts. But its grip weakens with time, and one day you will be free of it.”

Related Characters: Gruadh / Rue / Lady Macbeth (speaker), Maeve (speaker), Macbeth, Bodhe
Page Number: 180
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 20  Quotes

“If we were to gain rod and crown,” I said low, so that none should hear but he, “we could satisfy our heritage and avenge our two fathers, all at once.”

“Just so.” He cast me a look that was sharp and clear.

I felt a chill. “You led me deliberately to share your plan, from the first.”

“In part,” he admitted, “for I knew the worth in your blood, and saw the worth of your nature. But I could never have planed as well as fate has done. It has twinned our motives now. Your father and mine are gone, and they deserve this. Our branches, Gabhran and Lorne, deserve this.”

“And the ancient Celtic blood of the whole of Scotland—it, too, needs this.”

“It does.” He smiled, and we rode on in silence.

Related Characters: Gruadh / Rue / Lady Macbeth (speaker), Macbeth (speaker), Bodhe , Finlach
Page Number: 187
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 25  Quotes

“My ambition was always for Scotland as much as myself. We must be careful to preserve the heart of what is called Gaelic, the honor, the power in it, when the outer world—the Church, our enemies, the trade, all the rest—stands to change us. Duncan is hastening the end of the Gaels, if he even knows it.”

“You can honor that heritage and vindicate your kin and mine,” I reminded him.

Page Number: 256
Explanation and Analysis:
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Bodhe Character Timeline in Lady Macbeth

The timeline below shows where the character Bodhe appears in Lady Macbeth. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
Violence, Justice, and Revenge  Theme Icon
...at age nine, when she is briefly kidnapped while riding a horse with her father, Bodhe, and older brother, Farquhar. Violently resisting capture, she grabs the man’s dagger—which he snatches back—and... (full context)
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Gruadh falls to the ground and watches Bodhe and Farquhar fight off her attackers. This is the first fight she’s ever seen, and... (full context)
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The attacking men belonged to Crinan, mormaer of Atholl. In King Malcolm’s judgment court, Bodhe accuses Crinan of killing Farquhar and kidnapping Gruadh to marry his own son, but the... (full context)
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After Farquhar’s death, Gruadh becomes Bodhe’s only heir. As a result, her life and blood right becomes even more important. She... (full context)
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...a son by a princess.” Ketill also explains that Thorfin kidnapped her after he asked Bodhe for Gruadh’s hand in marriage, and was rejected. He has kidnapped her to teach Bodhe... (full context)
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Back in Fife, Bodhe has hired an Anglo-Saxon priest, Father Anselm. Gruadh suspects that Bodhe has begun to think... (full context)
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Bodhe rushes to arrange a marriage for Gruadh. He seeks “both a protector” and an “unbreakable... (full context)
Chapter 2
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Gruadh confronts Bodhe and tells him she wants to learn how to fight. He resists, but she points... (full context)
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In Bodhe’s mind, Gruadh’s “most important role” is being the direct descendant of several Picts and Irish... (full context)
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...that “men will always argue over me, and more deaths will occur on my account.” Bodhe eventually gives in, admitting that his daughter has a “warrior spirit.” He arranges for her... (full context)
Chapter 3
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...comments about her weakness as a woman, but she practices with Fergus, and other men Bodhe has pressured into sparring with her. (full context)
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...Still, she is expected to tend to domestic duties as well. She learns from Dolina, Bodhe’s mistress, how to run a household. She and her friend Drostan learn reading, numbers, and... (full context)
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For her fifteenth birthday, Bodhe gives Gruadh a sword with a triskele engraved upon it. She is aware of the... (full context)
Chapter 4 
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One morning in March, Gruadh helps Drostan muck out the stables. As they work, Bodhe returns from a journey with several strangers. The group carries two banners. One is yellow... (full context)
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Gruadh continues to muck the stables even after Aella comes out to fetch her on Bodhe’s behalf. Another group of men arrive, led by Macbeth. He does not recognize Gruadh as... (full context)
Chapter 6
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...is surprised to see Ketill, who she had assumed had been killed or injured when Bodhe recaptured her from Thorfin. Ketill says only that any wounds have healed and “peace and... (full context)
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The fight finally ends when Gilcomgan stumbles into Gruadh and Bodhe forces the men to stop. Dolina takes Gilcomgan to treat his wound, and Gruadh tells... (full context)
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...would not marry him either. Macbeth warns her again against an alliance with Gilcomgan, but Bodhe says the betrothal will happen soon nonetheless. Macbeth calls the pair of them fools and... (full context)
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Bodhe explains to Gruadh that she must get married and this is the best match for... (full context)
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Thorfin Sigurdsson interrupts them. Bodhe explains they have made their peace with him, but Gruadh still holds a grudge. Thorfin... (full context)
Chapter 7 
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...night, Gruadh has difficulty sleeping, and gets up to wander the fortress. She runs into Bodhe in the great hall, and the two of them discuss her future. He tells her... (full context)
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Gruadh understands that her marriage to Gilcomgan will make him even more powerful, will give Bodhe better access to King Malcolm, and will ensure his powerful lineage. She wonders why her... (full context)
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Gruadh wonders why, if Macbeth has a better claim to Moray, she isn’t marrying him. Bodhe explains that Macbeth is married, and although he has a strong claim, he does not... (full context)
Chapter 8 
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The following spring, Gruadh spends her days embroidering and eavesdropping on Bodhe’s conversations with other noblemen about politics and threats to Scotland. She knows that “a mormaer’s... (full context)
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...swordplay is heresy, and so Dolina forbids Gruadh from practice in advance of her wedding. Bodhe doesn’t believe sword-fighting will put Gruadh out of favor with God, but does worry about... (full context)
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As a present, Bodhe gives Gruadh a hauberk and a brass helmet. He has begun allowing her to sit... (full context)
Chapter 9 
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Gruadh and Bodhe ride to witness a meeting of kings on the border between Lothian and Saxon Northumbria.... (full context)
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...ride onto the field with a retinue of lords representing various lands under their control. Bodhe rides with King Malcolm, while Gruadh watches from the sidelines. Gruadh is confused when Gilcomgan... (full context)
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That evening Gruadh, Bodhe, and their entourage stay at a nearby thane’s house. They have dinner and listen to... (full context)
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...mac Duncan and Donald Bán. Gruadh likes her, and the two women embrace as friends. Bodhe then calls Gruadh over to take over a chess game he is having with Macbeth.... (full context)
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...they play. Gruadh discovers that Macbeth is married, and so is confused as to why Bodhe has arranged this meeting. In the chess game, Macbeth takes Gruadh’s queen, and he warns... (full context)
Chapter 10 
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The day before Gruadh leaves Abernathy for Moray, she goes to Luag, Bodhe’s bard. She asks him about Moray, and he tells her about the history of the... (full context)
Chapter 12 
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...his men are returned to Elgin and buried. Gruadh feels numb. She expects that soon Bodhe will avenge her husband and waits for him to send his men. Her thirst for... (full context)
Chapter 13 
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...against the wall. She swears to protect her unborn child, and declares, “No more of Bodhe’s blood shall suffer for your ambitions.” The men stare at her, shocked, before Macbeth finally... (full context)
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Two weeks later Gruadh is happy to see the banner of Fife and Bodhe in the yard of Elgin. She is disappointed when she finds that her father has... (full context)
Chapter 18 
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At the wedding Gruadh is excited to see Bodhe, Dolina, and Malcolm mac Farquhar, her nephew. She still feels some resentment towards her father,... (full context)
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Gruadh reports that Macbeth wants to be king. Bodhe knows this already, thinks Macbeth will be a good king, and believes Scottish leaders will... (full context)
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The pair returns to the hunting party, and Bodhe asks Gruadh to say a prayer for “the sake of those who share your bloodline.”... (full context)
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One day, as Gruadh stands outside, Ruari rides into Elgin and announces that Bodhe and Malcolm mac Farquhar have been killed. Although the attackers were anonymous, Ruari could see... (full context)
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Gruadh and Macbeth travel to Fife for the funeral. They bury Bodhe, young Malcolm mac Farquhar, and Fergus, who was killed with them. Gruadh only cries in... (full context)
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...Abernethy. She allows Father Anselm to stay, because although she never got along with him, Bodhe did. Father Anselm is happy to remain in his home. He tells Gruadh he respected... (full context)
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Gruadh can see Bodhe’s kinsmen from Fife are want revenge as much as she does. She asks Macbeth to... (full context)
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...the names of the significant men and women in Gruadh’s linage, from her ancestors to Bodhe to Lulach. She realizes Lulach will never be fully safe until King Malcolm, his children,... (full context)
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...come to offer condolences. When pressed, they deny that the king was involved in the Bodhe’s death.  (full context)
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Duncan promises that when he is king the feud between Bodhe and King Malcolm will be forgotten. Gruadh promises that once she is Lady of Fife,... (full context)
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Gruadh is frustrated that as Bodhe’s daughter she cannot enact revenge herself and must wait for men to avenge her father... (full context)
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...Finn, Macbeth, Gruadh and others discuss revenge. They wonder who sent the men who killed Bodhe, whether it was King Malcolm, Duncan, or even Crinan. Gruadh wonders when justice will be... (full context)
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Gruadh wants Macbeth to kill Malcolm, but he refuses. He argues installing someone from Bodhe’s bloodline in a position of power would be better revenge. Gruadh complains Lulach will not... (full context)
Chapter 19 
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Gruadh sends a request to Duff asking for Bodhe’s hawks. Two weeks later, Ruari arrives with hawks and hunting dogs, and asks to stay... (full context)
Chapter 20 
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...not know she would be such a perfect partner, or that the fateful death of Bodhe would motivate her, too, to seek out revenge. (full context)
Chapter 21 
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...check on Gruadh and tells her he suspects Crinan sent the attackers to cut off Bodhe’s line. Gruadh wonders if it was King Malcolm who sent the men, but Macbeth points... (full context)
Chapter 22 
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One day Macbeth returns home with a letter from Duncan—compensation for Bodhe’s death. He gives Gruadh crowning rights, which would make her bloodline second only to the... (full context)
Chapter 23 
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...the blacksmith. She asks him to make her a helmet and hauberk. He points out Bodhe already gave her armor, but she notes that it was ceremonial, and she wants battle... (full context)
Chapter 26 
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...be there too.” She dresses in Finn’s armor, and arms herself with Macbeth’s dagger and Bodhe’s sword. (full context)
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...women warriors. She adds that she has her own reason to ride out—the deaths of Bodhe, Maeve, and the poisoning of Macbeth. Finally, her husband consents and allows her to ride. (full context)