C12th Devon. Much of the country lies under the iron rule of the Royal Forest laws, with all hunting reserved to the King. The penalty for killing a deer on the King's land is mutilation or death. These harsh laws are rigorously upheld by the King's foresters, notorious for their greed and corruption. June 1195. A tall, brown mare gallops into the sleepy village of Sigford, its rider dragged by the stirrup, the broken shaft of an arrow protruding from his back. The embroidered badge on the dead man's tunic identifies him as a senior officer of the Royal Forest. But, with plenty of money still in the victim's purse, the motive is a mystery. When a second forest officer is violently attacked, Sir John de Wolfe begins to uncover evidence of a sinister conspiracy. And why is his unscrupulous brother-in-law, the sheriff Sir Richard de Revelle, taking such an interest in the case?