It is the thirteenth century and England is on the verge of a civil war between King Henry III and his nobles lead by Simon De Montfort. At the court of King Henry is a great swordsman from France named De Vac. He is fencing with the king when he best him. The king isn’t in a good mood at the time and strikes De Vac. De Vac hates all Englishmen and decides to get revenge for this affront. He kidnaps the king’s infant son Richard. De Vac buys an old run down castle and raises the boy as his son. He teaches him swordsmanship and a hatred of all English. The plan is have him hung as an outlaw and reveal it to the king.
The plan seems to go according to plan. The boy named Norman raises a gang of brigands at the age of 19 that terrorize the country. Still Norman has retained many noble attributes of chivalry and honor. This is nurtured by a friendship with a priest. Norman does question the motives of his father and longs for a more normal life.
One day he rescues the lady Bertrade who is the daughter of the rebel De Montfort. He pledges to the cause of the rebels and De Vac betrays him to the king who is his real father. A final confrontation between De Vac and Norman where both appear to kill each other. De Vac reveals the true identity of Norman before he dies. Luckily Norman survives his wounds and reconciles with his real father. He also wins the hand of Lady Bertrade.
This was actually the second book that Burroughs wrote right after A Princess of Mars.Its one of his more obscure works but quite enjoyable. He seemed to do some good historical research for this story. The political intrigue between the King who wanted to increase crown authority and the nobles who continually worked to decrease it is portrayed accurately. Also the weapons, armor and tactics are accurate. A very good book.