Uhtred and Halig suffer in slavery as they battle the elements. Caught in violent storm, they struggle to keep their boat afloat and are shown no mercy by cruel slaver Hakka.
Uhtred is thrown in chains on a ship and Hild and Ragnar embark on their mission to free him, but time is not on their side. The lords of the north congregate in Eoferwic, and Guthred learns to sorely regret his act of clemency.
Gisela refuses to be used as a political pawn, while Aelfric is tireless in his efforts to hunt Uhtred down and enlists an old adversary to help finish him once and for all.
Alfred turns his mind to forging a political alliance, making Aethelflaed aware of her duty as he seeks suitors for her. Halig's act of bravery comes at a high price, which Uhtred finds difficult to bear.