The early twelfth century is a time for ambitious men to prosper - and royal servant John FitzGilbert is one of them. But when the old king dies and his successor is appointed, John's position at court is weakened and his wife, the pious, pliant Aline, is hopelessly unequipped to deal with a life lived on the edge.
John knows the only way to protect his lands and his children is to divorce Aline. He meets his match in new wife Sybilla, daughter of his enemy Patrick of Salisbury, as she possesses a strength and courage that equals his own. But when Sybilla's son, William, is seized by the king, John is forced to make a terrible sacrifice. Sometimes keeping your honour means breaking your word . . .