Pisa, May 1364. Sir William Gold - newly knighted on the battlefield outside the gates of Florence - can look forward to a lucrative career as a sword for hire in the endless warring between Italy's wealthy city states. But when a message comes from Father Pierre de Thomas, Grand Master of the Order of St John - better known as the Hospitallers - Sir William knows he has no choice but to leave his dreams of fame and fortune behind him. Father Pierre is gathering men across Europe for a crusade, and as a donat of the order, Sir William is pledged to serve him. But before setting out for the Holy Land, Sir William and his companions face deadly adversaries closer to home. In the labyrinthine politics of Italy, not only would some cities rather side with the Saracen than their fellow Christians, but there are powerful princes of the church whose ambitions would be better served if the crusade failed - not to mention two of Sir William's bitterest enemies - the maniacal Bourc le Camus, now in the pay of the ruthless Cardinal Robert of Geneva, and the Count D'Herblay, husband of the woman who still holds Sir William's heart. With assassins and conspirators on all sides, Sir William and his band of knights must overcome overwhelming odds - but if they survive, can the crusade be anything more than a suicide mission?