Land of Disorder
SYNOPSIS: Ireland (981-984). Ethelwulf and his followers land in Ireland, then a battleground for Gaels and Vikings and so an opportunity for ambitious mercenaries. But there’s treachery, horror and magic for the exiles in this land of shifting loyalties. Ethelwulf meets the axeman, Gunnar, and the historical Queen, Gormflath – one will follow him throughout his adventures and the other has different ideas.
With extensive Factual End-Notes.
EXTRACT: 'Suddenly there was a movement to the north, from behind the deserted island. It was sharp-sighted Ethelbald in Offa's boat who saw it first, the result of a boyhood spent surviving as an outlaw in Dorset. He nudged his companion, Thorstein, and for a moment they almost stopped rowing. At first a mere ripple disturbed the surface of the water, then a distinct edge of foam started to sweep southwards towards the boats. As it moved the height of the disturbance grew and by the time it was first spotted by Hallgrim firmly directing Siward's craft towards the shore it had grown into a threatening wave. At first he narrowed his eyes, as if to check what he’d really seen; then his jaw dropped open and he shouted a warning.
His cry shattered the silence and seemed to add impetus to the wave. Something started to emerge from beneath the greyness of the lake; in the mists a darker-grey shape appeared. Hallgrim's cry had alerted the other two boats. By now all eyes in Siward's craft were focused on the disturber of the waters and this destroyed whatever rhythm had existed in their rowing. Three or four retained some semblance of the rowing action, but their oars simply battered the surface of the lake without providing any drive. The remainder offered no pretence at propelling the craft; their oars languished over the gunwales of the boat and they breathed heavily as they stared back towards the north.'
END-NOTE EXAMPLE: 16. Eric Blood-Axe was one of the most dramatic claimants to the throne of York (948-9, 952-954). He was the son of Harald Fairhair, the first king of Norway. He was killed at Stainmore soon afterwards. Edward Athelstansson was king of England 939-46.
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