Book VI of The Last Kingdom. Uhtred is ordered against his will to talk peace with the Vikings. He is sent into a trap: the men who control the king do not trust Uhtred, the Danes want him dead and his only ally is Aethelflaed, Alfred’s daughter, who has been condemned to a nunnery. Uhtred himself has been banished to an impoverished estate in Mercia and must now watch as the churchmen around the king urge a policy of peace and conversion while the enemies of Wessex grow ever stronger on the border. The Danes talk peace but want war – they want Wessex, the richest Saxon kingdom. Alfred the Great, who has ruled for almost thirty years is rumoured to be dying and there are bad omens – ‘seven kings will die,’ the sorceress said to Uhtred, ‘and the woman you love.’ When Alfred dies the rivals for his crown will try and destroy each other, leaving Wessex open to the Viking onslaught. The survival of Alfred’s kingdom – and the English nation – is at stake.