When her home village is destroyed during a battle for the Gempor Plain, a young girl is taken from her home and given to the warlord as a captive camp follower. When he learns that she is pregnant, he gives her a beating and leaves her for dead in a deserted campsite. Her struggles to find her father's secret place of refuge, and the birth of her twin daughters begins the story of Janan Jubedottir. Her widower father has married the village healer, but the fate of the other villagers is unknown. A younger half uncle to the twins is born into the group, and the tale of the trials of their small band begins. Their clashes with the warlord, who has declared himself king, adds much to the story, as does the twins' adventures and their search for someone to coerce into marriage.