Banished for one year from his fathers court over a disagreement, Prince Leo of Byzantium fights his resentment in faraway Macedonia. His companions, ignorant of the reasons for the fathers decree, are sympathetic toward his distress and wonder what the year in exile will bring until a mysterious vagabond arrives and entertains them with a tale of yesteryear.
Angered by a young mothers foolish devotion to beauty, Morgana, the haughty faery queen casts a spell that disfigures the face of the mothers newborn infant, Princess Gwenyth. Before she departs, she leaves an arcane clue to breaking the spell on a parchment. Another faery, Melissa, wishes to placate the cruel act and endows the baby with the gift of healing so the princess will find acceptance by her countrymen.
Now fully grown, Princess Gwenyth treats her patients in such a kindly manner that they ignore her physical deformity. Admired for her great courage and her skill as an archer, she inspires a loyal following. It is the time of Charlemagnes rule, and the vagabond sweetens the tale with folklore about the French kings famed paladin, Oliver and his son Griffon, father and brother to the marred princess. Unknown to the audience, the faery Melissa is portraying the vagabond.
Trusting that he understands the spell, Prince Leo is eager to face the challenge of rescuing Princess Gwenyth. Dark times have invaded Europe. During the journey, Prince Leo and his knights unwittingly becomes the pawn in a game between the two faeries. Although he has dabbled in sorcery, the princes appreciation of beauty lures him into ambushes that challenge his self-confidence. As time passes, he becomes false to his true character.
The prince and his knights lose their way in an enchanted forest. Then, they find a young boy and a monk who were attacked on their way to Charlemagnes palace in Aachen. The prince safely delivers the child to Charlemagne, solves the mystery of the attackers, and accepts the kings gracious hospitality. Afterwards, Prince Leo and his men leave for a tournament. En route, the meddlesome faery queen, Morgana, conjures up a mighty challenge that demoralizes the companions. Desiring for a peaceful rest, the prince spins a spell creating an invisible wall to protect his men while they sleep. However, the wall is pierced and two young women, hunting a white stag, find him and his men. He listens to them as they speak and understands that one of them is Princess Gwenyth. Struggling to open his eyes to see the women, the prince is surprised to find that neither of the womans faces is masked by a faery spell. His heavy sleep, part of the enchantment, quickly reclaims him. When his spell wears off, he is more determined than ever to meet the princess.
Devising a reasonable explanation for meeting the princess, he enters a tournament near the home of the princess and her family. She does not attend the tournament, but when a mysterious black knight injures him, the only person who can cure him is the princess. By her fathers invitation, he is brought to their home. For many days, she nurses his high fever and bloody wound. Despite that her true face is hidden by the spell, he finds her beautiful in her kindness, courage and character. He also thinks her temperamental and not entirely truthful, but then, neither is he. The wounded prince can be just as stubborn as she and sparks fly between them.
Prince Leo must rediscover his inner truths before he can help the unwilling princess break the faery spell. Magic, he realizes, is not a game for the crown prince of Byzantium.
This novel incorporates characters from the medieval Song of Roland and brewing in the background of the story is the search for the errant Roland, the kings nephew and champion.