When King Penda dies after losing the battle to King Oswiu of Northumbria, the Mercians are devastated to realise they will be subjugated and have to pay tribute to their hated enemies. Penda's oldest son becomes king but the ealdormen, led by Burhred, do not support him, yet realise that Wulfhere the younger son is not ready and would not be a popular choice. Wulfhere is whisked away along with Aidan, a tough churl, to a remote village where he is to be turned into kingly material, but not without treachery from the local lord of the manor. And while Wulfhere and Aidan deal with treachery, back at home there is murder. But who, and why? Elfrida and Alicia are the two women of this tale: Elfrida, feisty and courageous, desperately in love with Wulfhere, who doesn't even notice her; Alicia, shrewish and devious, madly in love with Elfrida's brother, and determined to have her scheming way. This is a tale set in the seventh century with family and political infighting at its core. These themes are as relevant today as they were then and this is why Wallis Peel's stories are so gripping.
Wallis Peel is the writer of numerous published books, short stories and newspaper features. She is a long-established member of the Society of Authors. She had the normal working-class education of her era but she hated school and left at fourteen. She spent one miserable year in offices then followed her heart's desire to work with horses. She started at the bottom and worked her way up as she gained experience and knowledge. She started writing in her late twenties then had gaps because of one thing or another but always, at the back of her mind, was the desire to write. Recent books include Sea Gem, set in Guernsey, Republic set in Bristol and Yate, Bold Spirit, Glorious Gloucestershire, Spirit of Defiance and Battle of Defiance. Sea Gem is also available as an unabridged audiotape published by Isis, and all the novels are available in large print.