With King Stephen in jail, Bishop Henry, Waleran Bigod and a traitorous William Hamleigh welcome Empress Maud to the throne. Philip appeals his case to the new ruler. Maud grants William the quarry, but Philip is allowed all market rights.

Back at Kingsbridge, the stone supply is almost depleted. Philip asks Aliena for help, and she agrees to buy his wool and pay upfront. They also decide to hold a fleece fair in Kingsbridge next year to earn more money. Alfred also needs Aliena's help to form a parish guild to build a second church in Kingsbridge. She agrees and they work together.

In the meantime, Jack has become the most talented stone carver on site. In his free time, Jack escapes to the forest and daydreams about love. One day, he comes across Aliena reading a book, and Jack tells her the stories his father once told his mother. They fall in love, but Alfred proposes to Aliena. She refuses, her sights set on Jack. Unfortunately, she pushes Jack away after Alfred catches them kissing. They don't speak for months.

Although Jack wants to be a builder, Philip wants him to become a monk. Ellen refuses, saying, "Those treacherous lying priests took his father but they're not taking him." Jack resists the idea until he and Alfred destroy part of the job site during a brutal fight. Philip demands that one of them must leave immediately. Tom brings the decision before the guild and the men vote to keep Alfred. Ellen appeals to Prior Philip who agrees to let Jack stay—if he joins the church. Jack accepts in order to remain close to his family and Aliena.

After a year of planning, it's time for Kingsbridge Fleece Fair, which is virtually guaranteed success despite William Hamleigh's earlier attempts to sabotage it. Various entertainers perform, and Tom spends the day with 5-year-old Jonathan—until he spots a cloud of dust coming toward Kingsbridge.

William Hamleigh and his men have come to torch the town. Tom trips while running in a stampede of townspeople, and William's war horse crushes his head. As the smoke clears, Jack finds Tom's body and bids farewell to his stepfather and mentor.

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