The early tenth century AD is a time of change for the kingdoms that will become England . There are new raids by the Vikings from Ireland, and turmoil among the Saxons over the leadership of Mercia. Æthelred, the ruler of Mercia, is dying, leaving no legitimate heir. The West Saxons want their king, but Uhtred has long supported Æthelflaed, sister to King Edward of Wessex and widow of Æthelred. Widely loved and respected, Æthelflaed has all the makings of a leader—but could Saxon warriors ever accept a woman as their ruler? The stage is set for rivals to fight for the empty throne. Uhtred is still suffering from the wounds he received in battle. To recover his strength he needs to find the sword that caused the injury, but lost amid the battle’s blood and mud, how could it be traced and who among the Vikings or Saxons might be holding it? This is another great tale from Bernard Cornwell, is which we learn much more of the characters in this saga. A great read and I cannot wait for the next book.