979 A.D. At sea, a crew of Norwegian Vikings, led by Ingólfur, intercepts a Danish ship transporting goods from Greenland. Ingólfur outwits the famished Danes into handing over part of their hard-won cargo. The Norwegians and Danes join forces and sail towards the western coast of Ireland. The first book in the illustrated Liffey series.
In Inisbofin, Ireland, a carefree teenager named Ciaran is sent before sunrise to locate the family's sheep. Soon thereafter, the Vikings ambush the villagers, showing no mercy as they cut people down. From afar, Ciaran notices smoke from the direction of the village. He runs, and sneaks past the feasting – and drunk – Vikings, plunging his sword into the Ingólfur back. The huge Viking rises, and squares off with Ciaran. In a span of seconds, Ciaran is beaten, stabbed, and left for dead. When Ciaran awakes, he finds himself in a dark room the monastery St. Molaise, brought back to life by the herbalist, brother Phelim. As Ciaran comes to terms with the horror that befell his village, Phelim introduces him to an ex-Viking warlord turned monk, the Norwegian Isaiah (aka Ingmar). Wrought with guilt, Isaiah gives Ciaran his broadsword. Ciaran can only think about revenge, starting with the death of Isaiah. In the meantime, the abbot of St. Molaise, Thomas, has returned from a meeting of the High Council of Dublin. Thomas is distraught that the High Council, in conjunction with the Norse Kingdom of Dublin, has learned of Isaiah's whereabouts, and would like to interview Isaiah for a newly created position as liaison between the Vikings and the Irish. Thomas plots to thwart the plan, and himself become the liaison, meaning a continued access to goods from the New World, including tobacco. Isaiah must be killed.