The latest tale from Bernard Cornwell in his saga of the birth of England, continues with Uhtred of Bebbanburg controlling Mercia from the Roman fortress, that is Chester. Enemy forces are gathering to conquer the island nation for themselves. Northmen allied to the Irish, by the fierce warrior Ragnall Iverson, joined by the Northumbrians look to be an overwhelming force. Despite this threat, Edward, King of Wessex and Aethelflaed, Queen of Mercia are reluctant to move out of the safety of their own kingdoms. It falls, therefore, upon Uhtred to act. However Uhtred's daughter is married to Ragnall's brother, who is under siege in Ireland, as he later discovers by Ragnall's forces. Uhtred, has decisions to make between family and loyalty, and between personal ambition and political commitment. The action does not cease, and the final page, as with any Cornwell novel, always arrives too soon.