This is the second in Jack Ludlow's trilogy covering the great story of the Normans in the South.
The scene is 11th Century Italy, with Norman mercenaries arriving to be hired by Lombard and Byzantine lords. Too many young knights in Normandy to be supported on too little land, so the younger sons seek their fortune in a divided Italy.
The story is built around the de Hautevilles. Tancred in Normandy trying to do his best for his many sons. William goes south and becomes first a Captain in an established band before striking out on his own. Eventually he rises to his own fiefdom in Apulia, supporting a rebellion against the weakening power of the Byzantine Empire. This book ends with the Battle of Civitate where the Normans defeat the Pope who is trying to curb their growing power. Yet cleverly they ally themselves with the Pope and set the scene for the next stage of the Norman expansion in the South. The leader then will be Robert de Hauteville, known as Guiscard.
For a factual history you can do no better than J.J.Norwich's 'Normans in the South'. The actual history reads like a novel because it is the most amazing story. But Jack Ludlow is a great writer of historical fiction. This book has it all, intrigue, treachery, action and passion. Historical fiction at its very best. Highly recommended.