This is the first episode of a series placed in the last quarter of the 12th. Century. The protagonist, Martin, was born in the City of London, the son of a mercer, in an epoch dominated by Christian assault on Arabs and the persecution of Jews. This first section represents Martin’s voyages of self-realization and travel, in his determination to be reunited with his brother.
Martin is devastated when his adored older brother Geoffrey leaves abruptly to go on crusade, and is reported killed. He is certain this cannot be true, and intends to find his brother, but at the age of fourteen is too young to leave England. Martin’s learning experiences involved a Benedictine priest Alphege, a herbalist Gwen, an old soldier, now keeping tavern John and John’s widowed sister-in-law Sarah who warmed Martin’s palliasse. In Oxford as a student, Martin helps the poor with their unjust burdens of taxation. He undertakes a mission for the Jews of Oxford bringing their present to King Richard at his coronation.
Martin returns to London. He rescues Gisella of Montferrrat from thieves, and finds his father is died and he has inherited impossible debts to a Jewish money-lender Aaron, who nevertheless befriends Martin and furthers his education. In gratitude, Martin rides to York to warn Aaron’s daughter Jael of impending trouble, and rescues her from a mob intent on pogrom. Involved in the unlawful death of Steven who had stolen his father’s stock and money, Martin is sent by Alphege on crusade as penance, with the goal of finding his brother.