AD 1193. England lies uneasy, a land without a king. Richard the Lionheart languishes in an Austrian dungeon, his brother John hungers for the crown. In the Lionheart's stead, Eleanor of Aquitaine rules. Mother to both Richard and John, Eleanor is no stranger to the game of thrones. She is determined to prevent the outbreak of civil war, but at court treachery is endemic and there are few men she can trust. Justin de Quincy is one of the few. Sharp-witted and bastard-born he is the Queen's most trusted agent, a foil to John's machinations. But now John himself has asked for de Quincy's aid. De Quincy mistrusts John's sly charms, but with the welfare of Queen and Country at stake he will have to prove his mettle - or find an early grave - as he searches for the dark heart of a conspiracy that threatens the course of history.