Arbonne, warm and sun-blessed, a land of olive trees and vineyards, of troubadours, love and the sensuous, flamboyant men and women who dwell in the castles and towns of a country dedicated to the worship of the Mother Goddess. Moving through this decadence is the sardonic, bitter Blaise, mercenary captain of Gorhaut, who must soon face the darkest secrets of his past. Gorhaut is a land of dour, hard Northerners who worship the god Corannos and who are rapacious in war. Their ambitious, debauched young king looks to the south and sees Arbonne, ripe for the taking, blasphemously worshipping a goddess and ruled by a woman. The men and women of the two countries will find their lives and the beliefs of life put in the balance, and Arbonne will learn that love and music may be powers only in a civilised time, for neither can combat the power of fire and sword.