The Perigord of 16th-century France is a wild region on the edge of the reaches of royal authority - its steep, forested valleys roamed by bands of brigands and gypsies, its communities divided by conflict between Catholics and converts to the new Protestant faith, the Huguenots. To this beautiful but dangerous country come two veterans of the French king's wars, Jean de Siorac and Jean de Sauveterre, The Brethren - as fiercely loyal to the crown as they are to their Huguenot religion.
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Montpellier in 1566 - only fools walk the streets at night unarmed while a profession of faith in the wrong company can lead to a knife in the back. Not even this proud city of philosophers is safe from the menaces that endanger the peace of France. The city militia are struggling to contend with the lawlessness and religious hatred that threaten to tear the whole country in two.