Newly knighted Alanna of Trebond is finally enjoying showing the world that she is a woman, and not a man, as she begins her journey through the vast desert of Tortall.
There, however, she is captured by vicious desert dwellers, who have challenged her to a duel. A duel to the death that will prove whether she is worthy of being invited into the tribe, or killed in battle.
Alanna receives a triumph from the battle, though she is headed for tough times. Times that will test her in everything she attempts. Before long, Alanna's mythic fate comes into play, and Alanna is soon the first female shaman of the tribe, training three amateur sorcerers to follow in her footsteps, and become shamans, like herself.
But when one of her young students succumbs to greed and tragedy, Alanna realizes that she must fight to change the customs of the desert tribes, or tragedy will strike all of Tortall.
As if that weren't enough for her to handle, Alanna must also make a choice: marry Prince Jonathan, and spend her days trying to give him an heir, or live alone as the knight she has strived so hard to become.