The life of an 8th century peasant is, as they say, “nasty, brutish, and short”. Stephen of Orlans wants none of that. Peasant or not, he dreams of studying at Charlemagne’s famed Palace School at Aachen. But the sins of war have left him stained with blood, guilt, and despair, and the sadistic step-son of a local count wants him dead. Most importantly, he is beginning to think he would rather spend his life with the beautiful milkmaid Bertrada than in the confines of a monastery. Stephen’s road to Aachen leaves him entangled in the conspiracies of nobility, fighting for his freedom and his life. But it is the struggle between love and ambition, between responsibility and desire that threatens to destroy him. To find his redemption Stephen must confront the secrets and betrayals that have shaped his life, and he will find that some decisions can never be undone.

Book Details


  • Fiction
  • Historical Fiction

Age Level: 

  • Mature Young Adult
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