Seventh century England is a hodgepodge of warring Anglo-Saxon states filled with shifting alliances and treacherous grabs for royal power. Kings rise and fall, depending on Woden's Luck. Northumbria, the damp kingdom north of the River Humber, is a state riven with rivalries and kings determined to expand at any cost.
Women have no obvious role in a warrior society, but by using their wits, four women—two queens and two abbesses—make monumental changes. One woman marries a pagan king and successfully converts him to Christianity before he dies in battle. One becomes the most powerful abbess in Northumbria and holds the Great Synod at Whitby Abbey, which brings the kingdom back to the Roman Church. Another becomes queen and keeps political alliances strong despite different religious denominations. The fourth woman ushers in a new age by negotiating with kings and churchmen to establish one united church in the Northumbrian kingdom.
Based on true events and people, this is the story of Northumbria through the eyes of the most important women of their time.
Sandra writes historical fiction about courageous women who overcame discrimination. She also writes a weekly blog with entries relating to history, her travel experiences, and other topics that catch her attention. For more information about Sandra, visit her website www.sandrawagnerwright.com
Elfleda, Abbess of Streoneshalh, goes to Lindisfarne for the funeral of her brother, King Egfrid. Why did he choose to lie here and not at the Streoneshalh? Even though Egfrid's death wasn't entirely unexpected, it's still a shock that changes life for everyone in Northumbria. Who will be the new king? Will they be taken over by Mercia? And, on a more personal level, why did Egfrid turn his back on his family to lie at Lindisfarne? Since Abbess Hildeburg died, everything seems in flux. Before she returns to Streoneshalh, Elfleda will demand answers from Cuthbert. Will he have any?
Cuthbert makes the sign of the cross to conclude my brother’s last public appearance. I follow the bishops into the niche hastily carved into the side of the church. I don’t know why Egfrid chose to lie at Lindisfarne instead of our mausoleum at Streoneshalh. Is it in defiance of his father’s efforts to create a family shrine? Did he feel unworthy to lie with the men who built Northumbria? Only Godknows.