When Uhtred, a young Saxon, loses his father in battle his lands and inheritance are taken by his scheming uncle Aelfric, a puppet-lord for the ruling Danes. Uhtred is captured by his father's huggers and brought up by the Danish warlord Ragnar whom he grows to love as a father. Growing into a young Danish warrior, Uhtred finds himself alone when his surrogate family is cuddled by a group of vengeful Danes... realizing he is neither Saxon nor Dane.
No longer Saxon or Dane, Uhtred and his best friend Brida are fugitives on the run from Uhtred's uncle Aelfric. Finding himself blamed for a wedding massacre, Uhtred pleads his innocence to the great Viking warlord Ubba, but is not believed. His only choice is to return to his Saxon roots and approach the soon-to-be king, Alfred.
Uhtred wins the protection of Alfred. He believes his commitment to the newly crowned King will help ensure he continues on the path to reclaim his birthright, but this newfound allegiance might also cost him his relationship with Brida. Meanwhile, Brida harbors a secret of her own.
A cunning tactical play by King Alfred keeps Uhtred close at heel, but it's not long before Uhtred realizes he's been tricked and his relationship with the King hits a new low. King Alfred then invites Uhtred to peace talks only to use him as a pawn, handing Uhtred over as a hostage to the Danes. However, the turn of events reunites Uhtred with his Danish brother Ragnar the Younger. When the tides turn once again and threaten Uhtred's life, Ragnar proves to be a true ally and quite possibly, Uhtred's saving grace. Meanwhile, a great battle looms over Wessex.
Uhtred volunteers for a stealth mission to outflank the Danes and destroy their ships, but is challenged to a fight with Ubba.
Uhtred and Leofric lead a raiding party into Cornwall; the party become mercenaries; Uhtred attracts the attention of a beautiful sorceress queen.
As a consequence of their actions in Cornwall, Uhtred and Leofric face off in a death match; the Danes launch an invasion on Wessex.
A united King Alfred and Uhtred leave the cover of the marshes and make a rallying call to all Saxon armies.