In A.D. 1100 King William Rufus, son of William the Conqueror, was killed during a hunt. Although no one knows who shot the fatal arrow, Anand provides an intriguing story of what might have been.
William Rufus faced opposition from his two brothers and numerous lords under his dominion in England and France. He drew the condemnation of Church authorities for his homosexual liaisons. He ignored the grievances of his impoverished subjects, many of whom continued to practice ancient fertility rituals in the hope of improving their economic lot.
Anand pulls seemingly unrelated subplots tighter and tighter as the novel progresses, drawing the principal characters together to the fateful day of the king’s death. In the process she masterfully re-creates the chaos and passion of a turbulent time.