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
Abbess Elfleda sits with Bishops Cuthbert and Trumwine trying to understand what happened to her brother King Egfrid. How did he die? She knew he died in battle -- but what happened. Trumwine begins his description of Egfrid's attack on the Picts who instead of meeting Egfrid on open ground, led his army into an ambush. If Egfrid hadn't been so determined to crush them, he might have realized the danger. But his blood was up. He was determined to destroy his enemies and sure they could not stand against him. Egfrid died in battle, but it was his pride that led him to his death.
“We spotted an enemy war band and followed it into the mountains. Every time we drew near enough to fight, instead of standing to meet us in open battle, the band withdrew so that we had to pursue it further into the mountains. Eventually, it disappeared behind the cleft of Dunnichen Hill. Unsuspecting, we crested the hill and saw the Pict army. It was a sea of men, banging their shields, jumping up and down, hurling curses at us. They paint themselves blue. Did you know that? It was a terrifying sight, as if we were gazing intohell.