Britain, early tenth century AD: a time of change. There are new raids by the Vikings from Ireland, and turmoil among the Saxons over the leadership of Mercia. A younger generation is taking over. AEthelred, the ruler of Mercia, is dying, leaving no legitimate heir. The West Saxons want their king, but Uhtred has long supported Athelflaed, sister to King Edward of Wessex and widow of Aethelred. Widely loved and respected, Athelflaed 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? In the end it is one champion, one hero, who will destroy the new Viking threat to Mercia and ultimately decide the fate of England.