In Palermo, in the summer of 1225, Maurice, a young illuminator and translator in Frederick II's palace, finds his life changed as he begins work on a strange Sufi manuscript. When his close friend, Rashid, takes him to a meditation group, Maurice's efforts there have a powerful effect on his mind. He starts to question everything he ever held dear, even his own sanity, and a long-standing obsession begins to unravel, changing his life forever.
At the same time, a group of jongleurs, headed by a famous troubadour who had been with Maurice in the Holy Land nearly three years earlier, have returned to Languedoc only to find themselves facing serious problems with the Inquisition. They try to keep their Cathar background hidden, but the dangerous times they live in may deal them a terrible blow. Thus begin the tangled efforts of this once close-knit group of friends to reunite and find some meaning-and safety-in their lives.
Set against the backdrop of medieval Europe, this historical novel, a sequel to The Last Crusade, pits a band of young friends against their worst nightmares.