A Fragile Trust
In 872 AD, the Vikings swept over most of Mercia and were pushing at the borders of Wessex, the Saxon holdings of King Alfred. Gemma, a Saxon goldsmith, and her young companion cross a recent battlefield in search of firewood. She finds a Saxon warrior, wounded but alive. They take him back to her bower in the Viking camp. Although a Saxon, non-political Gemma has agreed to restore the scepter of Cerdic, the traditional Saxon sign of power, to be presented to Guthrum the Viking chief, because the Vikings are holding her young brother hostage. To complicate matters, Ashbeorn, the man she rescued, seems to be more Viking than Saxon. When discovered, she claims he is her husband just returned from a journey. Both Ash and Gemma each have secret plans to restore the real scepter to King Alfred and deceive Guthrum. Since neither has confided in the other, they seem to be working at cross purposes. Gemma wrestles with her love for Ash, her need to free her brother, and her hatred of the Vikings.
Ms. Kirkman’s long and eloquent literary style often interrupts dialogue. It is, at times, difficult to follow the action, but interesting nonetheless.