The years after King Alfred’s death are peaceful: the Danes rule in northern Britain, the Saxons hold the south. But for a warrior, a time of restless peace is the hardest challenge. Too often, it allows the cautious and the timid to dominate.Uhtred, a celebrated warrior of the late King Alfred, is out of favour with the new regime, and in one ill-considered moment of rage he is thrown off his land and banished. He becomes an outcast, spurned by Christians and Pagans alike. Supported by a handful of loyal men, Uhtred goes north in a daring attempt to recapture Bebbanburg, his ancestral home and the greatest fortress of Britain.
But elsewhere, the uneasy peace is breaking. Cnut Longsword, most feared and savage of all the Danish lords, rises in fury at the capture of his wife and heir. All the kingdoms are dragged into a bloody war which will decide whether there will be an England or a Daneland. Northumbrians, East Anglians, Mercians and West Saxons will meet in a climactic battle. And it is Uhtred, lord of outcasts, whose fate is to decide when and where that battle will be fought.