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Cynthia.


FOREWORD

This is the seventh book in the Ambrose historical adventure series, and this and the next novel cover a time when England came very close to becoming a Danish kingdom. I have followed the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles as closely as I could, but it is a rather bare-bones listing of long-ago events. I therefore took it upon myself to fill in the gaps with literary license. The title of the books have changed, since the main character from now on is Alfred the Great, though Ambrose, Polonius and Phillip will continue to play a major part in the war against the pagan Danes.

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In 875 A.D., Alfred, eventually to be known as the Great, is the king of Wessex, a Saxon Kingdom that stretches from Dover to the western tip of Cornwall, and from the southern coast north to the Thames and (eventually) Watling Street. Ten years before, the three sons of Ragnar Lodbrok: Ubbi, Halfdan and Ivar, had arrived with the 'Great Army', the largest Viking invasion army ever seen in England until that time.

Instead of lightning raids or seasonal forays, as had been the pattern for the previous two generations, the Danes conquered, one by one, every single Angle and Saxon kingdom in England except Wessex. As this story opens, King Guthrum of Denmark is about to lead a strong Viking force south into Wessex. This is the story of that struggle.

Most of the events you are about to read about, although fictionalized, really did occur, more or less in the order in which I describe them. The quotes are from the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles. Alfred really did put together a fleet and defeat seven enemy vessels, though he did this in 875 A.D., the year before Guthrum arrived with his army. Bishop Asser was actually a monk in Wales as this story unfolds. He joined the royal court in 885 and was only made a bishop in the 890's. I thus brought him to court and promoted him a few years early. Words in italics generally have special meaning and the details may be found in Appendix III.

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