England, 1141. The countryside is devastated by a long civil war as the English king, Stephen, and his cousin, the Empress Matilda, battle for the crown. . . .
Emma is the eleven-year-old redheaded daughter of a peasant family. When mercenaries pass through their town, they bring with them a monk with a deadly interest in young redheaded girls. Emma is left for dead in a burned-out church until Gwil, an archer, finds her by chance. Gwil takes Emma with him, dressing her as a boy to avoid attention. Emma becomes Penda and Penda turns out to have a killer instinct with a bow and arrow.
Maud is the fifteen-year-old chatelaine of Kenniford, a small but strategically important castle she s determined to protect. But when Maud provides refuge for the empress, Stephen s armies lay siege to Kenniford Castle. Aided by a garrison of mercenaries including Gwil and his odd, redheaded apprentice they must survive a long winter under siege. It s a brutal season that brings everyone to Kenniford including the sinister monk who has never stopped hunting the redheaded girl. . . .
Enthralling. . . . A grand yet intimate historical adventure . Library Journal
A] thoroughly captivating tale. Kirkus Reviews"e;