Life in war-torn 1157 England is like Hobbes' state of nature--solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short. All that young craftsman Guy Armourer wants from it is knighthood--but it looks like a quick good-nighthood for him when he is captured by highwaymen employed by savage Sir Reynald, the Devil of Warby. Red-hot pincers in hand, Sir Reynald looks at Guy and asks, ""Where have I seen your face before?"" ""In your mirror"" is the answer. Turns out Guy was sired by rape and is Reynald's bastard; hungry for male issue, the old Devil adopts Guy on the spot with the bribe of knighthood to come. Guy's conception is by no means the only rape in this book, which consists of rapidly alternating scenes of light and dark--the true love and Christian courage of Guy, his mastiff, and beloved fellow bastard Helvie vs. the torture, bloodlust, and unspeakable rites of Sir Reynald and his loathsome coven (who make Macbeth's weird sisters look like the Beach Boys). The spurs are gilt, not gold, but anyone who fancies horse operas in fancy dress could ask for few better runs for the money.