The setting is feudal Sussex in the thirteenth century, a landscape and society that have changed almost beyond recognition. The power of the Church is at its zenith; yet the King, ruling by divine right, is sovereign, above all.
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Ralf Grigg is the young son of a master carpenter whose business fails when Ralf is small. The family have come to live in the seaside village of Mape, where Ralf’s mother was born.
Ralf’s solitary evening walk along the sea-wall is interrupted by the distant sight of someone - a boy of about his own age - trapped in the mud of the saltmarshes. The tide is flooding. There is no time to fetch help.
The decision Ralf makes in that moment has profound and far-reaching consequences, not only for himself and his whole family, but for the lord of the manor, his sovereign, and the ruthless struggle for supremacy between Westminster and Rome.
Extent: 125,773 words (about 419 conventional pages)