In this story, King Alfred is not yet Alfred the Great (as he later became known) but a desperate young man who, as the fourth son of King Aethelwulf of Wessex, suddenly finds himself heir to the throne following the deaths of his father and each of his brothers, one after the other, in the never-ending war against Norse invaders led by Ivar the Boneless and other Viking jarls, and afterwards, in the 870s, when Alfred was King, the great Danish army of King Guthram.
Under the sign of the White Horse in Wiltshire (part of ancient Wessex) lives Epona, priestess of (incarnation of?) the horse goddess Epona, the Great Mother. Epona, known as Pony, is the last of a long line of priestesses/Mothers who each bore a daughter who grew up to succeed her. Like her own mother and all the Mothers before her, Pony lives with her herd of horses on the grassy plain, in contact telepathically with them and with all "prey animals, those that run to live".
But Pony is different from her predecessors in that her mother died while she was very young, and, growing up on her own she lacks guidance and any real knowledge of the traditions she is supposed to be upholding; and also in that the world about her is changing. Though the people still hold her and what she represents in awe, the country is becoming Christian: the Angles and Saxons at least (King Alfred is a Christian and as a child was taken on pilgrimage to Rome), though the invading Danes still worship Odin and the other gods and goddesses of Asgard.
Medieval Magic and Mystery
> telepathic communication with animals
> foreseeing the future
> the ancient pre-druidic religion of Britain
> Samhain at Stonehenge
> a priestess of (the incarnation of?) the horse goddess, Epona
> a Danish warrior who is an outcast among his own people
> a Saxon witch married to a Dane
And so it is that Alfred comes in search of her, wanting horses, and also wanting her support and recognition of him as King, while she is looking for a suitable father for the daughter she knows she must bear to continue her line, and the tall, young, charismatic King seems very suitable indeed. But shortly afterwards she falls into the hands of the Danes ...
This is a love story (it is advertised as a romance) but it is full of the magic and mystery of a world (Middle Earth) that was passing away, never to return. Epona is caught on the cusp of the wave.
Now I want to read Susan Squires' earlier book Danegeld but have been unable so far to obtain a copy. When I do, I will review it here alongside Danelaw.