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By Tim Severin

Sigwulf, a minor Saxon prince, is stored from execution after his kin is slaughtered by means of the ruthless King Offa of Mercia. because of his Devil's Mark - his eyes of alternative shades - Sigwulf is exiled to the Frankish courtroom of King Carolus, the longer term Charlemagne. There Sigwulf survives on his wits whereas while attempting to come to phrases with disturbingly prophetic dreams.

He profits the friendship of count number Hroudland, Carolus's strong and impressive nephew - yet, mysteriously, a number of makes an attempt are made on Sigwulf's lifestyles. while he obtains a e-book of desires, an extraordinary textual content that explains their that means, he draws the eye of Carolus himself. yet th booklet proves to be a slippery consultant in a global of double dealing. despatched into Spain to undercover agent at the Saracens, Sigwulf turns into stuck among loyalties; both he honors his debt to new Saracen pals, or he serves count number Hroudland in his quest for glory, gold or even the Grail itself.

One after one other Sigwulf's predictions come real, yet usually now not as anticipated, and he reveals himself swept ahead right into a ultimate nice conflict that unearths who his enemies are...

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He’s strong, yet impetuous,’ Osric responded. ‘Then who’s the main efficient between them? ’ I enquired. ‘That one there,’ he answered. He nodded in the direction of a guy to whom I had paid little awareness the former night. Gerin was once a taciturn, relatively grim determine, a major loose-limbed guy with shut cropped hair and tough eyes. Now he carried a simple, crimson safeguard and that i had spotted his tendency to hold again and watch his partners of their manoeuvres. ‘He doesn’t have to practise,’ stated Osric, ‘he’s a qualified warrior. ’ Hroudland rode as much as us. His horse was once very targeted, a roan stallion with darkish patches on its neck and rump. ‘Time to get you wiped clean up, Patch,’ he stated in a pleasant voice. i used to be nonetheless grubby with dust from my tumble within the paddock. He jumped down from his horse and passed his struggle apparatus to an attendant and pointed in the direction of a low red-roofed construction within the distance. ‘I’ll introduce you to my uncle’s major indulgence. ’ part by way of facet, we walked in the direction of the construction, leaving our servants to meet up with us. The rain clouds had long gone, and the earth steamed lightly within the scorching sunshine. Hroudland waved a hand, taking within the development paintings occurring round us. ‘It’ll be years ahead of this position is finished to my uncle’s delight. occasionally i believe as cooped up as one of many animals in his menagerie. ’ ‘I met the king yesterday,’ I acknowledged. ‘There was once a tender girl with him. She appeared rather a lot like him that I guessed she used to be his daughter. ’ ‘That might have been Theodrada or Hiltrude or Gerswinda. I’ve a number of lady cousins. It’s tough to maintain song. ’ ‘She wore her hair in lengthy braids. ’ He pulled a face. ‘Most of them do. It’s the style. ’ ‘Are any of them married? ’ He gave me a sideways look of entertainment. ‘Thinking of a neighborhood bride already? ’ ‘No. simply curious. ’ Hroudland’s face took on a extra severe expression. ‘The king’s no longer partial to having sons-in-law. ’ i used to be boring sufficient to invite, ‘Why’s that? ’ ‘Possible opponents to the throne. He retains the ladies at domestic and shut to him. ’ ‘How do they consider approximately that? ’ ‘As I do . . . overly restricted. brain you, they've got their very own methods of compensating. ’ With that ambiguous comment, we had arrived on the colonnaded porch of the red-tiled construction. there has been a faint odor i couldn't determine. It jogged my memory vaguely of rotten eggs. I Hroudland around the porch, via a small front corridor, after which into the centre of the construction. The sight prior to me used to be so unforeseen that I got here to a surprising halt. there has been no roof. The development was once open to the air, designed to surround a wide expanse of grey-green, opaque water. all of the sudden I knew what the scent had jogged my memory of. It was once the rotting stench of the bubbles which had risen from stagnant water after we pulled my brother’s drowned corpse from the pond. an analogous scent had clung to his slimed outfits as we laid him out at the financial institution. Hroudland used to be concerning me with drawback. ‘Are you okay, Patch? You glance as though you’re approximately to faint. ’ I shook my head. ‘I’ll be fine,’ I guaranteed him.

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