When Guarin D’Argent goes out of his way to protect a Saxon lady from the bloody aftermath of Hastings, he is repaid by being taken captive by the lady’s vengeful warriors. Imprisoned for two years in the camp of rebel Saxons, all he can hope to do is survive. But in the midst of his suffering, he comes to feel for Isa, the widowed Saxon lady who keeps him alive for some unknown reason. When Guarin’s younger brother Cyr begins to apply pressure to the rebels, Guarin must decide whether to make good his escape or make sure Isa is safe. But what hope is there for them in love when he would never wed a Saxon and she is determined not to yield to a Norman ever again?
This book retreads the path laid out in Merciless, the first book of the Age of Conquest series. In that story, Cyr is searching for his lost brother while trying to uproot the Saxon rebellion. In this story, Guarin is enduring the frustration and privation of captivity, waiting for his family to come to his aid. While I usually don’t enjoy rehashes of old material, this book was different enough that the storyline didn’t drag. Guarin demonstrates a strength of spirit and a refusal to give up even in the most dire of circumstances, all while keeping his sense of compassion.
Isa was an intriguing heroine, determined that her Wulfrith blood with never mix with a Norman’s, no matter what the usurping King William might decide. Following in her father’s footsteps, she knows how to train warriors and trains as a warrior herself. At first, her ties to Guarin are forged by guilt–after all, it was through his consideration of her person that he ended up a captive in the first place. Later, as she observes his fortitude and care for those weaker than him, she feels the stirrings of love, but her pride will not allow her to admit such an emotion for a Norman.
The finale of the book brought in a host of material from another of Tamara Leigh’s books, Lady of Conquest–so much so that I would say reading Lady of Conquest is a prerequisite to reading the Age of Conquest series. The climactic scene of Fearless, the showdown between King William and the rebel forces, involves many new characters heretofore unseen in Fearless (Max Pendery, Elan Pendery, Edwin Harwolfson, etc.), and felt very “tacked on” to this book. Despite this, I did enjoy seeing how Guarin (and his cousin Mael D’Argent) conducted themselves at the battle and the way in which Guarin finally wins Isa for himself…at the cost of his own pride.
I look forward to seeing Tamara Leigh’s next book in the series and finding out how the one-armed Dougray D’Argent will prove himself.