A tale of Viking raids, hapless thralls, noble kings and their sons and friendship and love. Above all else, a tale of unforgivable betrayal and the ever-present desire for revenge… The life of Eadwulf, ten-year old son of the Mercian king, is changed forever when his family is betrayed to the Danes by his treacherous uncle. In a Danish raid, his father is killed and his mother is raped. And along with his tutor and childhood friend, Eadwulf is captured and taken to the Danish lands to be sold as a slave. As a thrall in Jarl Ragnar’s village, Eadwulf’s life is hard, his days unbearably long. But on the return of Bjorn, the jarl’s jovial firstborn, from his summer raids, Eadwulf’s life greatly improves. Under the protective wing of Bjorn and his crew, he spends the next few years sailing to places he’d never even dreamed of, trading and raiding. And though he’s still a thrall, he becomes a well-respected member of Bjorn’s closely knit crew. But through it all, the smouldering desire for revenge on those who destroyed his family refuses to abate. Eadwulf’s tale plays out against the backdrop of events unfolding in Wessex in the face of escalating Danish raids. Alfred, the fifth son of the Wessex king, faces family tragedies from an early age, losing first his mother, then his beloved sister when she is married to the new Mercian king. At his father’s court and the successive courts of his three elder brothers, he learns the weighty art of kingship. And, like Eadwulf, he learns the harshest lesson of all . . . that a trusted kinsman can so easily turn traitor.
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