A lively tale of courtly intrigue set at the close of the 11th century, by the author of The Disputed Crown (1982) and To a Native Shore (1983). The year is 1087, and King William the Conquerer of England is dying. He leaves behind three sons: William Rufus, a ginger-haired homosexual who will inherit his father's throne; Robert Curthose, an unambitious sensualist; and Henry, a ruthless warrior too young to inherit anything but a good education and his father's surname. For the final years of the century, these three brothers tussle over ownership of various outlying districts at the expense of their long-suffering subjects; England's peasants, overtaxed to the point of starvation to support Rufus' battles, revert to pagan rituals in an attempt to coax sustenance from their meager fields; and Catholic priests, antagonized by King Rufus' homosexuality, predict the final Day of Reckoning in the year 1100. But Rufus is too busy to notice his subjects' growing unrest. He increases taxes, balks at producing an heirs quarrels with Curthose, and refuses to allow Henry to marry his beloved Princess Edith. Finally, the country's resentment grows too great. While on a hunting expedition, King Rufus is murdered by a former lover who has taken on the role of Herne, pagan King of the Wood. The tumultuous century closes as Henry triumphantly snatches the king's throne from under Curthose's nose and sends for his bride-to-be. A satisfying historical tale, packed with forceful personalities and boisterous romance.