Duplicate crucifix, duplicate quest: Two Part frustration and female intervention. Rory the Red, Irish instructor in arms to Duncan, son of King Malcolm of the Scots, sets out to retrieve the Black Rood belonging to Margaret (whom Malcolm admires) which has been traded away by Duncan for a sword. He follows the peddler to Norman Alnwick where the man, recognizing him from Malcolm's court, causes him to be imprisoned; but Lilianne, daughter of the local lord, steals the rood from her sister who'd bought it and releases Rory. On his return to Scotland he's dismayed to learn from Margaret, about to marry the king, that it's a replica. End of Part One. Thereafter history intervenes, taking Malcolm and Rory & Co. to York and back, to Northumberland and back, tripping over the trail of the crucifix (s -- the second's gone too) and the quasi-peddler, -spy, until Malcolm makes peace with Norman King William. Then Duncan and Rory are off to London where the rood and the peddler -- and Lilianne and Rory's Edwina have preceded them; with the girls' help, the rood is recovered, the spy denounced. Lots of plot and little cause for satisfaction.