Note on names
I have adopted the modern spellings of place names, where they exist.
Anglo-Saxon names have been used for all characters. These can be confusing as they often sound similar so I have made a list of principal characters at the back of the book.
Note on ‘historical’ accuracy
This novel is based on my own research into the period. Any mistakes and inaccuracies are my own, and I offer genuine apologies to any historian who reads this and curses my name. (I have done it myself on many instances). As with all good historical fiction, it is my intention that this novel will encourage others to research the period for themselves and draw their own conclusions. There are many accessible books on King Aethelred II and also a number of scholarly reassessments of his Kingship. The Earls of Mercia are a little harder to track down but there is a fantastic scholarly work on them, however, the later Earls are covered more thoroughly. It is also my express intention to present the much-maligned King in a far more favourable light than normal. This is not a work of fancy, as much historical research in the last thirty years has attempted to provide Aethelred with a fairer assessment than that which is given to him in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, a work which was mostly composed AFTER events had taken place and with hindsight foremost in the minds of the authors.
Leofwine is the least documented of the Earls of Mercia/Hwicce and so a larger proportion of this novel is based on my own ideas rather than subsequent books that will include more historically attested details but I felt it was important to start at the beginning of the family history.
Note on Words
Witan = King’s council
Fyrd = army
Atheling = King’s son but also more – any boy/man who had a claim to the throne.