Young Brendan is caught fighting three of King Henry III’s best swordsmen and winning. Henry is so taken with the young man’s ability that he decides to take him back to England with him to grow up with his son, Edward. Brendan is renamed Justin and becomes Edward’s closest friend. Edward makes him his Master-at-Arms.
Things get complicated when Justin falls in love with a beautiful Jewess, Lydea. Edward’s entire family is strongly prejudiced against the Jews and they are being persecuted. Justin hides his bride for years. When Edward thinks that Justin is still unwed after many years, he forces him to marry an obnoxious French countess who is loud, dirty and fat. Justin is heart broken because he loves only his Lydea. He goes home to her in tears. But the clever Lydea finds a way for Justin to marry the countess and not suffer any consequences.
Justin follows Edward through his battles in Wales and in Scotland, always his right hand man. Over time he sees his former friend devolve from a righteous young monarch to a corrupt, old man who is driving the Jews out of England and stealing their property. Justin is sent away to France to spy on the French army which is poised to invade lands owned by Edward. While he is away, Edward’s wife has died and Lydea, Justin’s wife, sets up a booth at the Staines Faire to sell herbs. Edward sees her and falls for her. When one of his courtiers notices the attention Edward is giving this woman, he reminds him that she is but a Jewess.
Edward is now angry with himself. He does not know that this is Justin’s wife, but he has her and her aunt seized and sent to France, never to return. When Justin learns from his eunuch that Lydea has been taken away by the King, he is furious. He leaves at once for France and seeks her out using a song that only she used to sing. He finds her near death and brings her body home for burial. Justin cannot face Edward and wants nothing to do with him. He flees to Ireland and becomes a stone mason. Scotsmen come to recruit help from the Irish in their war against Edward, who is determined to take their country from them. Justin joins them and trains their warriors. They shadow Edward’s army and it is apparent that the King is near death. One final stroke by the master archer, Justin, sends Edward on his way to eternity, a bit wiser for his actions against his friend.
reference: King Edward I