King Edward has died. With no son or brother to succeed him, the throne has passed to Harold, Earl of Wessex, for little other reason than he knows how to fight, a quality that England will have need of before the year is out.
By September, England – the richest kingdom in Christendom – is beset on all sides by its enemies. To the north, the Vikings lurk, supported by Harold’s rebel brother, Tostig. While to the south, Duke William of Normandy awaits a fair wind to speed his ships to take the crown.
Thurkill, a young huscarl warrior in the service of the king, wants nothing more than to stand with his father’s forces in battle, to win glory and renown. He is eighteen, on the cusp of manhood, and eager to prove himself.
But he soon comes to realise that surviving the bloody carnage of the shield wall is only the start of his trials.
It is only after the conflict at Stamford Bridge and the devastating defeat at Hastings not three weeks later, that the warrior comes to understand the true meaning of duty. Returning to his village, he finds his father’s lands occupied by the enemy and his family, the people of the village, looking to him for protection.
With the Normans now rampaging across the south of England, Thurkill not only learns how to fight and survive – but he must draw his sword to save his family and countrymen.