The author moves from his customary Elizabethan Age theater world (The Mad Courtesan, etc.) to 1086 and the village of Bedwyn, dominated by its Abbey, its Royal Mint, and the Savernake Forest surrounding it. King William has sent emissaries Ralph Delchard, an ex-soldier, and young lawyer Gervase Bret to investigate land claims of local mill-owner Aldric Longdon against the Abbey. They arrive in time to share the horror of the villagers at the brutal death of Longdon, apparently savaged by a wolf in the forest depths. The hearings on his claim drone forward anyway, complicated by the disappearance of his charter to the land in question; the death of a second victim, killed as Longdon was; the near lynching of Emma, the Witch of Crofton; a flow of counterfeit coins; and the intricacies of Abbey life and politics. The killer, eventually unmasked by this Norman-era Batman and Robin, provides an unconvincing surprise in a story that invites comparison to the crystalline novels of Ellis Peters, and to the author's own previous work. By either standard, though, this is overburdened with historical detail, a surfeit of subplots, and too many uninspired characters. Marston fans may hope for his early return to that other world he so brilliantly re-created.