Time is running out for King Alfred to unite the kingdoms. With his health failing and the line of succession uncertain, Alfred looks to our hero Uhtred to ensure his young son Edward becomes the next king. Meanwhile, dark forces are moving outside the court and when a powerful Danish warlord, Bloodhair, attacks, Uhtred must lead Wessex's forces into battle. Uhtred captures Bloodhair's mysterious lover, the savage sorceress Skade, who throws a curse and his world becomes blighted by tragedy. In this dangerous time of treachery and chaos, Uhtred is caught between enemies both Dane and Saxon and confronts a difficult choice -- if he deserts Alfred's cause, the future of the English people will be changed forever.