It is the 12th Century and Ireland is the scene of raging internecine wars which sap her strength. In the land of Leister the loyalties of Fingen O'Lea, son of a bereaved ollave leech, lie with Dermot, the regional king, though Fingen inherited his father's hatred of death, disease and, therefore, war. Before returning to his studies, young Fingen accompanies his king as battle leech where he rescues a beautiful girl, falls in love with her, and brings her back as his bondswoman. Cairen is as lovely as Fingen is inviolable and, to secure her protection, he places her in a fosterage until he has an accredited status as an ollave leech and the means to support her. But jealous intervention destroys these dreams and Cairen is married to Conor, the king's son. The historical level of the novel progresses as Dermot's power attenuates and he seeks the aid of European powers at the expense of sovereignty. He obtains an audience with Henry of England and returns to Ireland, now overrun with Normans. Fingen journeys to the famous medical institute in Salerno to perfect his knowledge, to bide his unwarranted penance and to hope for Cairen whose husband is now, perhaps, dead. When he returns Cairen is free and Ireland is under the competent care of Henry. His love for the girl, his love for medicine, and, to some extent, his hopes for a peaceful and unified Ireland have all come to fruition. Historically the elaborate constitution of this colorful panoply conveys an era of confused allegiances, emergent Christianity and mixed moralities in glory and excitement. But the involutions of the plot underrate the narrative aspect of this book- obviously the product of extensive research. Miss McCormick's previous book based on Irish history, Freedom's Way, has established her market.