The small village of Maldon is controlled by the wealthy and rapacious Fitzcorbucion family, led by Hamo Fitzcorbucion, the lord of Blackwater Castle. A volatile bully, Hamo has amassed wealth and land by means both legal and shady, intimidating the villagers into silence. When his eldest son, Guy, is found murdered, an enraged Hamo demands justice and will stop at nothing to get it. Into this charged atmosphere arrives a tribunal, led by soldier Ralph Delchard and lawyer Gervase Bret. Surveying the lands of Maldon, the tribunal detects irregularities in various deeds, and plans to call the Fitzcorbucion family to account. With tension high between Saxon and Norman factions in the village, Ralph and Gervase find some relaxation in the gentler company of nuns. But Guy's murder, and Hamo's quest for revenge, force Ralph and Gervase to deal with dangerous matters far beyond their original duties.