In fifth-century Britain, King Arthur makes a difficult choice, little knowing that it will move his kingdom to the brink of war.
King Arthur’s old friend and trusted counselor Malgwyn is also cousin to Arthur’s lover, the fallen nun Guinevere. Malgwyn understands but cannot approve of Arthur’s decision to seek the hand of Lady Gwyneira, daughter of the powerful Lord Aircol. Their marriage would strengthen the Northern borders and cement Arthur’s position as Rigotamos, head of the council of powerful lords, many of whom have their own ambitions. On a visit to Londinium, the Christian Arthur runs afoul of the Druid Wynn, who curses him on the very site of what proves to be one in a series of vicious murders and rapes. Malgwyn, who’s had success in the past solving mysteries (The Divine Sacrifice, 2010, etc.), adds finding the killer to his list of things to do for Arthur. Sent to bring Gwyneira and Aircol to Arthur’s court for the marriage, Malgwyn deals along the way with spying, intrigue and more murders. When Gwyneira is killed on her wedding night, Guinevere and Malgwyn’s lover Ygerne are the chief suspects. Malgwyn must use all his powers to find the real killer and prevent Arthur’s rule from ending abruptly and ignominiously.
Forget those romantic portraits of Camelot. Hays’ third Arthurian tale paints a bleak picture of post-Roman Britain that pleases as a mystery and intrigues as history.