Torina has always known a culture of war. Her father, King Kareed of Archeld is a great warrior, a hero to his people. Now he has returned home from neighbouring Bellandra as a conqueror, bringing presents for his little daughter. A crystal globe in which Torina can see strange images, and a boy, Landen, Crown Prince of Ballandra, now offered to Torina as a slave. Bellandra was a kingdom of peace, protected by its fabled Sword, which Kareed has also captured, and Landen is untrained in the arts of war. Torina cannot bear the idea of a slave and she sets him free, to be trained as a warrior with the boys of Archeld. The two children grow up as friends, and when the king's council or, Vesputo, makes a play for the throne, it is Landen who warns Torina. But it is also Landen who is framed for the king's eventual murder, and he has to flee. Vesputo then tries to legitimise his claim for the throne by marrying Torina. She escapes, but Vesputo fakes the ceremony, and then Torina's death. Now Landen and Torino are both on the run - will they ever be able to return to Archeld? Torina's visions and Landen's affinity for the Sword of Bellandra are their only hope.