Lined by the author: "Rain lashed down."
1081. And so the bloody battle for the crown of the Holy Roman Empire begins.
Within the city of Constantinople itself, three venal factions will go to any lengths - will, it seems, kill any who might stand in their way - to seize the throne.
And outside the city's walls, twin powers threaten a siege that will crush the once-mighty empire forever.
To the west, the voracious forces of the most feared Norman warlord are gathering. While in the east, the Turkish hordes are massing - theirs is a lust for slaughter.
And in the midst of this maelstrom of brutality and betrayal, Hereward and his English spear-brothers prepare to make what could be their final stand . . .