Malgwyn ap Cuneglas is awaiting the arrival of his child when Arthur, High King of the Britons, calls upon him to broker a peace among several warring tribes. Together they travel to the kingdom of Doged, a wise man who’s recently married a young woman in a final effort to secure an heir for his throne. On the way, they come upon a village sacked by unknown raiders where only one young girl survives. When they arrive, Doged announces his willingness to sign over the rights to gold and other minerals recently found in his kingdom to the consilium to be used for the good of the entire kingdom. Because Arthur must go to Tyntagel to see his ailing mother, it’s up to Malgwyn (The Beloved Dead, 2011, etc.) to sort things out. Soon after the arrival of Arthur’s troops, Doged is murdered and Mordred is suspected of the crime. Although Malgwyn hates Mordred, he does not think him guilty of this murder. Doged’s bride first claims, then denies, that she’s pregnant, leaving a group of ambitious and warring enemies to claim Doged’s kingdom. The presence of a Saxon delegation and the arrival of several of Arthur’s counsel members, all eager to usurp the king’s position, make matters ever more dangerous for Malgwyn, who must be both brave and clever to keep alive Arthur’s dream of a law-abiding kingdom.
A realistic portrait of post-Roman Britain as no Camelot but a down-and-dirty home to warring factions—complex, exciting and well worth your time.