Angle-land is divided between various Saxon kingdoms.
The Danes AKA the Vikings are conquering one kingdom at a time.
Alfred plans to unite the kingdoms, but he’s not the main character.
Instead, we follow Uhtred, a boy who’s father and eldest brother is killed by the Danes, then captured by said Danes. Ragnar is impressed with the 10 year old boy’s courage and keeps him around instead of killing him. Life is wild and wonderful. Boy grows up and around 16 or 17, has to choose if he will be loyal to the Saxons or the Danes.
Lots of adventure, hearty warriors, friendship, betrayal, clever traps…
Note – most women are home-bodies, and few get much page time except for Alfred’s really nasty-pious wife. I guess home-folk don’t count, male or female. Uhtred’s girl friend is a rare shield-maiden, and she has some great adventures both along with Uhtred and also a bit on her own.
Other books that talk about England as a group of warring kingdoms – Hild by Nicola Griffith (https://www.goodreads.com/review/show…)
Other books that talk about Danish influence on England: Sherwood by Parke Goodwin
Comment if you know other books like these!