Habron, a restless shepherd in his late teens, detests watching his father's sheep every night. Influenced by visiting Legionnaires who boast of their exploits in pursuing bandits in the Marga wilds, he longs for relief from the boredom of his nightly routine.
While drinking a tankard of ale in the local inn surrounded by partially intoxicated Legionnaires, Habron inadvertently offends one of the patrons. The drunken Legionnaire insists on a duel and takes to the street. A fellow Legionnaire cautions Habron to run but he will have none of it. Reluctantly, the man lends Habron his blade and Habron faces the intoxicated Legionnaire whom he decapitates.
Nobash, the innkeeper, lends Habron his horse and tells him to flee because the Legion commander will place a price on his head and order his arrest.
Thus, Habron takes to the Marga wilds to hide where meets Ekkan, a congenial brigand, who takes him to the camp of Folamar, dubbed the lord of thieves by the wealthy merchant of Thursan, Govadun, whose wagon trains Folamar's band persists on robbing.
Reluctantly, he joins Folamar's band, meeting Barval, a former blacksmith turned brigand by chance. On Habron's first raid, he, Ekkan, and Barval form a pact to share their fortunes and leave the province of Murvia for the neighboring province of Orent where none of them would have a price on his head.
After the raid, the trio celebrates in the frontier town of Fekke where Habron meets Alea, a dispossessed royal female now serving as a whore. He helps her escape Fekke and takes her with him as "his woman" when the trio leaves Murvia.
Alea is highly educated and she undertakes the task of tutoring the uneducated and naïve Habron in the social graces and realities of life.
In Thursan, the capitol of Orent, the merchant, Govadun, discovering the trio is wanted men in Murvia, makes them an offer they dare not refuse, proffering a large reward if they will assemble a group of mercenaries to rid him of Folamar. Refusal would increase the prices on their heads and subject them to arrest by the Legions of both provinces.
Armed with letters from Govadun to the ruler of the Murvian city of Tascal, the trio has no choice but to accept the offer and leave Thursan for Tascal. With three brigades of men recruited from the Cloister, a prison in Tascal, they plan a campaign against Folamar and his band, financed by Govadun.
After ambushing Folamar's band, the mercenaries prevail but Govadun reneges on his promise of payment and try to have all of the mercenaries arrested and executed. The trio, accompanied by a brigade of ex-legionnaires who were imprisoned at the Cloister, escape to the Marga wilds to plot raids Govadun's wagon trains to recover the monies promised them. They occupy Folamar's old lair and wait until Govadun begins to transport wares of value before they raid a train, taking all of the wagons. They secure a shipment of gold and silver Govadun was transporting concealed in a shipment of common crockery and recover more than the monies owed them.
Not knowing that the gold and silver had been discovered, Govadun hires four men to have Habron kidnapped when he leads of the purloined wagons to the city of Qett. Habron decided enough was enough and went back to Thursan disguised as a Tascani sailor with an ex-legionnaire and they kill Govadun and his bodyguard.
In the process, the naïve Habron matures from childhood to manhood with the help of Alea, whom Habron rescued and made "his woman".
Alea refuses to get married but pledges to be his "whore for life" stating that, if he wants an heir, he can purchase one in the marketplace or get a mistress for breeding purposes.
When their fortunes improve tremendously, Alea and Habron, as equal partners, purchase an estate and join the nobility of the province of Desant.