In Llewelyn's world, the realm of the supernatural lies in the North, while warring kingdoms and a complex religion devoted to gods and goddesses of good and evil dominate the South. Llewelyn schemes for revenge and creates a disaster that forces him out of the monastery and back into the wide world, where he must flee north to escape the Emperor Roguehan, for whom he has been an unreliable spy. Fleeing the enemy, he knows, he will encounter new foes, not so easily recognized.
As Llewelyn travels, the story opens out into broader panoramas of his fascinating world. He will meet an enchanted dragon, befriend a half-elf minstrel, win a claim to the royal throne of far-off Gondal, and face a battle fought by an elven army.