Corban Loosestrife's life changed one clear morning years ago, when he returned from hunting to his family steading in Ireland and found it destroyed by Vikings and his father, mother, and brothers, slain. But his twin sister Mav was not among the dead, and so he knew that she had been taken as a slave. Corban set out to find her and redeem her, if he could, and in doing so became a man. Corban found his sister through blood and battle, now the property of the sorcerous Lady of Hedeby and pregnant with Eric Bloodaxe's child, gotten in rape. Corban took his revenge; he killed Eric, then the King of Jorvik, and in doing so he became bound in the net of alliances and blood debt that marked the battles for kingship among the Vikings.
Upon the death of Eric Bloodaxe, Corban Loosestrife and his wife Benna fled into the west with Corban's sister Mav and her son. There they made a home for themselves in Vinland, hunting, fishing, raising crops to support themselves and their growing family. There they were happy, until one day when a ship appeared on the horizon, bringing Benna's sister and her husband, bringing a summons to Corban to return to Jorvik and intrigues of those who would be King.
With Corban goes his son Conn and his sister-son Raef, young men now, ready to prove themselves in war. Waiting for them in Denmark is Gunnhild Kings-mother, a woman of great power, who was Eric's wife. Her son Harald Ericsson is now King of Norway, and he has become a Christian. In Jorvik, there is no King, just an Archbishop who owes fealty to Harald. And in Hedeby there awaits the unquiet spirit of the Lady, to whom Corban swore an oath.
It is a clash of clan against clan, and army against army, in the coming war of succession, while the new power of the Christ strives with the ancient worship of Thor. Corban must tread a careful path between those who hate him, and those would be his ally, while concealing Raef's true parentage. And meanwhile, in Vinland, the native tribes are eyeing Corban's fortified island, and wondering if the strangers can finally be driven away.
Cecelia Holland (born 1943) began writing at age 12, and had finished three novels by 17! She received a BA from Connecticut College and briefly attended grad school at Columbia University, but dropped out to work in a bookstore in Manhattan. She published first novel Firedrake in 1966 and has been a full-time writer ever since.
Though she is the author of one out-and-out SF novel, Floating Worlds (1976), most of Cecelia Holland's more than two dozen books are historical fiction, set in a wide variety of times and places. Her historical novels, some of which contain fantastic elements, include Rakóssy (1967), Two Ravens (1977), The Bear Flag (1990) and many others. Recent books include historical fantasy The Angel and