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Northumbria, Britain, 605 AD. The Roman Empire in the West has faded into memory, replaced by a colourful mosaic of competing kingdoms. The changing times bring great opportunities - and great dangers.

Eadwine is the youngest son of the king of Deira, guardian of a neglected frontier and the faithful ally of his eldest brother and hero Eadric. His ambition is to be a worthy lord to the frontier district, a good husband to his betrothed, and a reliable second-in-command to his brother. All these hopes are swept away when Deira is invaded by its powerful and predatory neighbour Bernicia. Eadwine reaches the capital just ahead of the invaders, having fought a fierce rearguard action, only to find that Eadric is already dead, shamefully murdered by a unknown assassin.

Eadwine survives the subsequent disastrous defeat, and now finds himself on the run for his life. The fearsome King of Bernicia, Aethelferth, has sworn an oath to the gods to kill Eadwine as thanks for the victory, and no king will dare to defy Aethelferth by offering Eadwine refuge. Eadwine must evade Aethelferth's relentless pursuit, identify and take vengeance on his brother's murderer, and rescue his betrothed. Along the way, he will lose his heart to another woman and discover a shattering secret that challenges all the ideals he holds dear.

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