Anno Domini 1200. Richard the Lionheart is dead, his realm is in the hands of his erratic brother John. To safeguard John’s throne from the schemes of the treacherous lords of Lusignan, John’s formidable mother, queen-duchess Aliénor of Aquitaine, coerces into matrimony her two pawns—Juliana de Charnais, a plain and pious novice determined to regain her inheritance, and Guérin de Lasalle, a profligate, war-worn mercenary equally resolved to renounce his.
Finding herself a pigeon among peregrines in a world of violent men, Juliana gains unexpected allies in Armand de Lusignan, Lasalle’s powerful enemy, and in Anne de Valence, the queen’s secret agent and Lasalle’s mistress. As Aliénor nears the end of her eventful life, she knows that she is entrusting the security of her last surviving son’s patrimony to a young woman of no consequence and a man who could claim John’s throne with one stroke of his sword.