After a lifetime of fighting, the great warrior Lord Uhtred is ready to hang up his sword. But as long as the kingdom remains divided, peace is fragile – and Uhtred will never be safe in his Northumbrian fortress. As kings in the north and south grow more bloodthirsty for power, history marches inexorably towards war. And Uhtred has no choice but to throw himself into the fire. In the most terrible battle Britain has ever experienced, with the kingdom’s future resting on a knife edge, Uhtred takes his stand on one side of the shield wall. Only fate will decide the outcome.