England 1044. The Godwine family are one of the most powerful families in England. As Earl Godwine's six sons start to reach maturity, so they are rewarded with power and influence. Harold Godwine, skilled at both the machinations of court and at fighting, has inherited all his father's diplomatic skills, but none of his lust for battle.
In France, William, illegitimate son of a duke, is brought up at the court but trained to be a soldier. Attractive and arrogant, he is an exciting leader, inspiring his men to ever greater victories. Though still precociously young, his fame begins to spread. King Edward, alternately influenced and angered by his powerful mother Emma, is weak and tyrannical. Even his arranged marriage to Harold's sister Edith does not bring the stability the Godwine family hoped for.
When events take a dramatic and bloody turn, the Godwines are forced into exile. They must fight their way back into favour, and a power struggle ensues which will eventually make Harold the King. But William has already seen the weakness which exists in England . . .