Having given up her only child and her very identity to become a priestess in ancient Crete, an idealistic young woman struggles to find meaning in the day-to-day life of the temple; but when she is chosen to be the next High Priestess, she must call on both mystical and practical skills to protect her people from the encroaching Mycenaeans, who want to destroy the Minoans' way of life.
Their island steeped in ritual and tradition, unchanged for centuries, the Minoans keep to their ways as the world around them moves on. Within the temple of Malia, Aria upholds the practices of her ancestors and the values that have kept her peoplethe children of the Great Mother Goddessessafe and happy for generations, even when doing so chafes against her ambition. She knows that the rites of journeying, divination, and sacrifice are the foundation of the people's relationship with the gods. And the public ceremonies and feasts are the basis of the temple's relationship with the lay people: the balance between the divine and the material, the people's assurance that the High Priestess and her clergy will take care of them and provide for them, the way they have always done. Aria knows that as long as Ida's children take care of each other, the Great Mother will take care of them.
But their tradition of sharing their goods and themselves with each other and the gods becomes a liability when the people from the mountains in the north of the mainland decide that wealth is something to be hoarded rather than given away. The newcomers' demands increase along with their greed, and the Minoans are hard pressed to maintain their traditional ways. What will become of a peaceful trading culture when their rivals decide to arm themselves and take what they want?