The book is set in vaguely medieval times, but the tone is starkly modern. A young gentleman is travelling on horseback from somewhere to somewhere else, and stops by a river to rest and bathe. Three maidens appear and, trying to avert their gaze, they tell him the story of their recently widowed mistress, who is dying of grief. She can only be saved by a man who fulfills three conditions. Despite the scoffing protests of the local priest, the gentelman saves the queen. But are the maidens and the queen what they seem? And what about the physician? Nothing is certain.