The tide of battle is turning against the Danes. As they fight for the territory that they long to hold, they are beginning to discover what it feels like to lose. But there are changes on the English side as well. After the death of their king, his brother Alfred takes charge, completely ignoring the two young sons that the former king left behind. With war on the horizon, a grown man needs to have control of the government, no matter how fractured and broken it might be.
Uhtred is growing in body and mind. While he is still headstrong and reckless, he is becoming stronger, and entrenching himself deeper with the Danes. With the death of Rorik, Ragnar takes on Uhtred as his second son. The bond has grown from captor and captive, to a deep and unshakable bond. While Brida and Uhtred continue to help out with the chores needing to be done and accompanying the warriors on their raids, they are also discussing the future. Uhtred knows that one day he must decide what side he is on. He wants to reclaim his lands, but until he has the backing to challenge his uncle, he is safer with Ragnar. One night as Brida and Uhtred are tending the charcoal pits, they are alerted to movement in the night. Hiding themselves, they follow the figures back to the hall where Ragnar and the majority of their guests and followers are located. With his daughter to be married the next day, Ragnar’s hall is full of people. Kjartan and his son Sven have never forgiven Ragnar for the indignity they suffered at his hands, and they have come to exact their revenge. Setting the hall on fire, the raiders simply wait for the warriors to emerge before cutting them down. The rest are simply burned as the hall catches fire, and an inferno blazes. Uhtred and Brida are forced to watch as their friends are murdered in front of them. Uhtred vows revenge on Kjartan and Sven for the deaths of their friends and the capture of Thyra.
However, his vow will have to wait. He does not have the strength to go against them as of yet, and there are other things that need tending to first. They need shelter, so they head to a uncle of Uhtred’s where they can stay. It is there that the priest finds him, and tells him that Alfred would like to see him. While Uhtred is wary of why the new king would want him of all people, he accompanies the priest.
Upon entering the service of King Alfred, Uhtred is bound to learn many things, not least among them is reading and writing. Although older than most students, he suffers through the lessons, and in the end earns the command of the fleet that Alfred is putting together. But there are always strings attached where kings are concerned….
This week we are reading Chapters 6-9
- Should it come as a surprise that the Danes are beginning to lose lands?
- Why would Kjartan and Sven wait so long to exact their revenge?
- Uhtred is balanced delicately between two warring factions. Which side will fully win his loyalty?