When Uhtred loses his father in battle, his lands and inheritance are taken by his scheming uncle, Aelfric, who becomes a puppet-lord for the ruling Danes. Uhtred is captured by his father’s killers and brought up by Danish warlord Ragnar whom he grows to love as a father. Now a young Danish warrior, when his surrogate family is murdered by a group of vengeful Danes, Uhtred finds himself alone; neither Saxon nor Dane.
No longer Saxon or Dane, Uhtred and best friend Brida are fugitives on the run from Uhtred’s uncle, Aelfric. Finding himself blamed for a wedding massacre, Uhtred pleads his innocence to the great Viking warlord Ubba, but is not believed. His only choice is to return to his Saxon roots and approach the soon-to-be king, Alfred.
Uhtred wins the protection of Alfred. He believes his commitment to the newly crowned King will help ensure he continues on the path to reclaim his birthright, but this newfound allegiance might also cost him his relationship with Brida. Meanwhile, Brida harbors a secret of her own.
A cunning tactical play by King Alfred keeps Uhtred close at heel, but it’s not long before Uhtred realizes he’s been tricked. King Alfred then invites Uhtred to peace talks only to use him as a pawn, handing Uhtred over as a hostage to the Danes.
In rescuing Mildrith from suspected abduction, Uhtred is drawn into the great battle of Cynuit, where he heroically defeats a formidable enemy. But when Odda the Younger steals the glory, Uhtred is furious and faces Alfred’s penance.
Uhtred leads a raiding party to Cornwall, on a mission for wealth and independence. The party become mercenaries for a Cornish King and Uhtred attracts the attention of a beautiful pagan queen, but he must eventually return to Wessex and face eventually return to Wessex and face Alfred’s wrath.
The Danish invasion of Wessex sees Uhtred driven to hiding in the marshlands with King Alfred. With Wessex lost and the life of Alfred’s child hanging in the balance, a bond is finally struck between the two men. They must work together if Wessex is to be reclaimed.
Leaving the marshes, a united Alfred and Uhtred must get word to Saxon forces to assemble and fight a decisive battle for Wessex and England. Treachery, deception and heartache follow as Wessex is saved – but at what cost to Uhtred?