In 1896, Knightshill, home to the Ashleigh family for thirteen generations, is at a crossroads.
The distinguished English Manor house is run with an iron hand by Sir Gilliard Ashleigh, a former general whose obsession with the continuation of his family line may prove to be its destruction. His only child dead at a young age, Sir Gilliard places his hopes for the future in his grandchildren. Tragically, the eldest grandson, Vorne-dashing, courageous, and in all ways the perfect heir to the Ashleigh military and family tradition-dies a hero's death at Khartoum-leaving Sir Gilliard bereft and Vere an unlikely successor. Artistic and peace-loving, Vere is no imitation of his revered elder brother, nor does he have any desire to be so. However, the unyielding expectations of his grandfather are such that Vere must ultimately leave his beloved Knightshill and forsakes what is rightfully his in order to achieve worthiness outside the family circle. Eighteen-year-old Valentine is the next in line to inherit. Though young, he is all Sir Gilliard desires in an heir, save for one fatal flaw. Like Verne, Val has a mind of his own. With th einheritance uncertain, Margaret, the eldest Ashleigh daughter, nurtures hopes that her own son will carry on the Ashleigh tradition. The boy's fanatical father insists otherwise, and as Margaret's marriage is jeopardized, she too must create a life for herself outside the only world she has evern known. The once-noble family is thus divided, and, in the ensuing upheaval, loyalties are forged and broken, passions are heightened, and heroism is tested as the Ashleighs firght for survivial-individual and collective-in an uncertain future.