This is the tale of Ralph de Aix of Normandy and of William Rufus-King of England. Ralph is a huntsman who desires knighthood and eventually lands of his own. He finds he cannot achieve his goal anytime soon in Normandy with his present lord and decides to look elsewhere for advancement. Advancement comes in the shape and guise of William Rufus, son of William the Bastard of Normandy. Ralph really cares about Rufus, on a genuine level of friendship, but is willing to do what it takes to succeed at court. Rufus, not known for normal "appetites" is attracted to Ralph and their strange relationship begins. Ralph endures Rufus in the hope of being granted lands after knighthood.
A run down Chenna's Tun is his "reward" for "services rendered." However, he tries to make a go of it and with current knowledge of the god Herne, becomes involved in the Saxon cult where he becomes a "lord" in his own right. There is much action and mystery involved in his life but not much money. He wants a wife and in time finds one who is, in the beginning, reluctant to leave her childhood home. As time goes on, things do not improve. Weather and health disasters are a never ending concern and many people hunt the "royal deer" in order not to starve. This brings about the most important role Ralph will ever play in his life, starring Rufus and Rufus' younger brother Count Henry, soon to become King Henry I of England.
Medieval life is brought realistically back to life as is a lessor known religious cult. Anand's style of writing keeps the reader emeshed in a life of intrigue, mystery, danger, and scandal, in the late eleventh and early twelfth centuries. Many of her novels are out-of-print but are well worth the search! They transport the reader back into time.