Historicals these days seem to favor brooding rather than blithe buccaneers, and in this Medieval saga, which settles over the battle of Hastings, our swordsman is Laeghaire of Tralee, savage as a bear and tunic-deep in hemorrhages. Laeghaire is so generally sour, in fact, that the author feels it necessary to introduce cloudless moments with explicit pronouncements, thusly: ""Laeghaire was happy."" Once in awhile his woman, Hilde, whom he purchased from a peasant, and who gave him a son and two stillborn infants, is happy, too. Apparently Laeghaire's growls are passing pleasing to his superiors, since a Flemish Count, in whose service he first meets William the Conqueror, sets some store by him. And William is given to wild chuckling and extravagant gestures when the irrepressible Irishman is dourly quipping and cranking. As part of William the C's army, Laeghaire slashes and slices his way to England , but rootless after the death of his son, he leaves Hilde (with child), rides oo into the logs and moors. Much tossing upon black stallions, spirited disembowelings, sacking and burning and speculations about the real William the Conqueror, make this a reliable blood-bosom-broadsword bonanza.