The life and exploits of Llewelyn the Great and his vast contribution to the nationalizing of Wales in the 12th-13th centuries are here brought to life in a novel which follows his ambition to make use of peaceful means and to be, for the people of his country, ""equal to their hopes, bigger than their fears"". Returned from exile, he is able to rouse his father's chieftains against the usurper David and to bind them through the adherence to ancient laws; later he travels to Windsor to meet with King John and there sue for Joan, John's bastard daughter, as his wife, and for a treaty. Through the treachery of the Prince of Powys, Llewelyn's affirmation of the treaty, after a border incident, is kept from John who, invading Wales, overwhelms Llewelyn when he tries to save the cathedral and town of Bangor. And it is through Joan's intervention that Llewelyn is given amnesty in return for the hostage of his first, bastard son. At a later date comes the call from the Archbishop of Canterbury for a reform to be endorsed by prelates and nobles, and to Llewelyn is given the commission of taking Shrewsbury and, through the help of the citizens, is successful, as is the larger undertaking of subduing John in London. Defeating Powys in his attempt to abduct Joan and their young son, Llewelyn, with news of the benefits for Wales in the Magna Charta, also is granted the return of his first son. In the tradition of Jane Oliver, this recreates, in warmly revealing narrative, the people of a certain time and place.