Alfred of St. Ruan's has lived his life in the seclusion of the monastery. But a badly wounded knight on a mission from the Elvenking, a beautiful and mysterious stranger who walks as both woman and beast, and a warrior king call him out of the cloister's walls into the wars and storms of the world. For he is neither mortal nor human, though he has long tried to live as both; and he can deny neither his nature nor his powerful magic.
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Constantinople, A.D. 1203: a great army camps outside the City of Cities, and threatens it with conquest. Within the City, a Greek witch and a renegade monk who is also a white enchanter do their utmost to hold back the tides of war. But even their great powers may not be able to save Byzantium's empire from the Western Crusade.
Alfred of St. Ruan's Abbey is a monk and a scholar, a religious man whose vocation is beyond question. But Alfred is also, without a doubt, one of the fair folk, for though he is more than seventy years old by the Abbey's records, he seems to be only a youth. But Alfred is drawn from the haven of his monastery into his dangerous currents of politics when an ambassador from the kingdom of Rhiyana to Richard Coeur de Leon is wounded and Alfred himself is sent to complete the mission.