According to first novelist Copeland's clattering and inventive saga of 11th-century Scotland, Lady Macbeth -- here known as Gruoch, daughter of the aging Earl of Moray -- was, even when a hatchling, sure of reaching the pitch of Queendom. She ruffles up clouds of glory around her father, the kind and generous Earl; he is, after all, ""The Moray,"" robbed of Scotland's throne by the present king Malcolm. And so Gruoch intends to be Queen -- with the aid of Satan and his accredited witches, as well as her own wit and perseverance. She starts by marrying neighbor Gillecomgain, an engaging, sexy man possessing useful property and the potential nucleus of an army; Gruoch takes over her husband's slovenly preserves, whipping everything and everyone into first strike posture. She bears an oddly deficient son, buries her father, and, through diplomacy and strategy, nearly outwits the King. There are pounding journeys to rally reluctant neighboring lords, noisy summitry, and a devastating final battle won by Malcolm in which Gruoch's husband and all her forces are eradicated. But when that hurly-burly's done, Gruoch will be off to join up with a certain General Macbeth -- and then . . .? Coleman's dialogue is stagy but never inefficient, with faint echoes of arcane speech and shadows of the Bard: ""Though I act as Fortune's whore, I will be queen."" The Black Masses are brief and satisfyingly nasty, and Gruoch sustains her one note of revenge and power with a brassy conviction. Clean, fast-moving -- a promising beginning, in a too-often soggy genre.