This historical romance is the first part of the family Saga known as the Lymond chronicles. Set in 16th century Scotland, Dunnett has created fictional characters that interact with real historical figures including Mary Queen of Scots.
The main character is Francis Crawford of Lymond who, despite being accused of treason, returns to his native Scotland to lead his band of outlaws against the English. But many readers are also attracted to the Lymond Chronicles' female characters, in particular Lady Christina Stewart, a confident young woman blind since birth, whose courage and devotion to Lymond is the book's central theme.
All Dunnett's 22 novels were scrupulously researched. She spent five years researching the life of the real Macbeth for her novel, King Hereafter, and claimed to have discovered his identity, something which had eluded professional historians.