Another chapter in the 12th-century life of Catherine LeVendeur (Strong As Death, 1996, etc.), now living in Paris with husband Edgar, son of Scottish Lord Waldeve, and their infant son James. Edgar's brother Robert has arrived from Scotland with news of the killing of two of their brothers and a nephew. Lord Waldeve, himself a heartless tyrant, wants Edgar back in Scotland to help find and wreak vengeance on the killers. Thus, Catherine, Edgar, Robert, baby James with nursemaid Willa, and Catherine's trader son Solomon (fearful of rising anti-Semitism in Paris) embark on a stormy sea voyage. Arriving at Waldeve's castle at Wedderlie, they're greeted by Waldeve's second wife Adalisa and their young daughter Margaret. The country is in chaos after the death of King Henry, with opposing forces everywhere, including the Bishopric at Durham, where Waldeve's brutal oldest son Duncan is supporting the false bishop William Cumin. Edgar and Robert, on the labyrinthine trail of their brothers' killers, are far from Wedderlie when the castle is torched. Catherine and the others barely escape the fire to begin an odyssey of hardship that ends with the revelation of the murky, almost indecipherable plot behind their travails. A score of subplots, a plethora of mostly unmemorable characters, and a glut of bloody encounters--all make for a wearying, no doubt historically correct, chronicle.