Gleason’s gripping historical novel—the first volume in his Carolingian Chronicles—offers readers a vivid mix of bloody battles, intriguing characters, and plenty of pagan sex rites. The year is 741, and Charles “The Hammer” Martel, the Frankish general and mayor of the palace who held off the Saracens and preserved Christianity in Western Europe, is on his deathbed. In the palace at Quierzy (located in modern-day France), the politicking around succession is laden with intrigue, which Gleason makes lively and entertaining, while giving considerable space and full character development to the women who walk the corridors of power. Trudi, Charles’s daughter, embraces paganism, while her brothers grapple with the role of the church in a reconstituted kingdom. As the saga unfolds, Trudi takes flight to avoid a forced marriage of political convenience, while her brothers battle each other in the skillfully described siege of the city of Laon. As both stories move toward their exciting conclusions, the mix of history, action, drama, and vigorous doses of sex makes this debut historical novel a page-turner.