A sequel to the popular author's Lion of Ireland (1980), the story of Brian Boru, the late tenth-century Irish warrior king who drove out the Norsemen invaders and, for an eyeblink of time, united Erin. Here, his son Donough, after Brian's death in 1014, sets his sights on his father's crown. After the battle in which the Ari Ri (king) Brian was killed--a conflict brought about by King Sitric of Dublin, then urged on by the fierce Gormlaith, the wife whom Brian had exiled--Donough, at 15, is the only surviving prince. On his way to manhood and respect, he must deal with his half-brother Prince Toigue, older but with no heart and no ability as a warrior. With his own vacuous bride, Donough is uneasily established at Toigue's fort of Kincora (he's sure it's his) when in storms his mighty mother--a former beauty and terror of Ireland now bent on empire-building. Gormlaith detects king-stuff in Donough and has a hand in plots and plans until her final madness. Meanwhile, Donough is finding true love with Cera the druid, though the increasingly influential church is disapproving. Eventually, he'll take the long sea trip to Scotland to meet with his half-sister's husband Malcolm II (grandfather of Duncan of Macbeth fame) and return with an alliance, not only with Scotland but England, now under the rule of King Canute (""Canute is nothing short of brilliant,"" bubbles one noble). In Scotland, Gormlaith, in her golden years, is brassy-bold with King Malcolm, who succumbs, though she'll be longboated home mumbling about her only love, Brian Boru. Donough will be cheated of the crown, and there'll be war and war and war. At the last, Donough is given a choice--Cora or Tara. Straight bothered-hero fare, with grue, stone digs, and sword- and ax-play.