Cyan Dag is a knight of Regis Aurum, King of Yves, and high in his favor through saving his life. But when the king returns with his bride, Cyan sees a dangerous, magical woman, and learns that the true bride is prisoner in a tower, where she can not look out without dying.
Thayne Ysse's brother was crippled in their last fight with Regis Aurum, and his father has gone mad, calling Thayne by the name of his own brother, and trying to persuade Thayne to go to a dragon's towers and get the gold to enable them to fight him again.
Melanthos goes to the tower in Stony Wood and embroiders. She sees the woman described to Cyan in a mirror, and all her embroideries are whipped away. Though her widowed mother Sel starts to go there as well, and never come out.
The first two set out, and the stories begin to interwine in a tale of numerous towers, three magical sisters, and McKillip's usual gorgeous prose. Also bandits and seals and a bakery.