Christmas 1558, and young Ned Willard returns home to Kingsbridge to find his world has changed. Europe is in turmoil and Ned soon finds himself on the opposite side from the girl he longs to marry, Margery Fitzgerald.
When Elizabeth Tudor becomes queen, all of Europe turns against England. The young monarch sets up the country’s first secret service to give her early warning of assassination plots, rebellions and invasion plans. She knows that alluring, headstrong Mary Queen of Scots lies in wait in Paris. Mary was proclaimed the rightful ruler of England and her own supporters are scheming to get rid of Elizabeth.
Over a turbulent half-century, the love between Ned and Margery seems doomed, as extremism sparks violence from Edinburgh to Geneva. With Elizabeth clinging precariously to her throne and her principles, protected by a small, dedicated group of resourceful spies and courageous secret agents, it becomes clear that the real enemies are not the rival religions.
The true battle pitches those who believe in tolerance and compromise against the tyrants who would impose their ideas on everyone else – no matter the cost.