In the land of Damar, Arlbeth is king with only one living heir, the princess Aerin, a pale girl with bright red hair, unlike the rest of the Damarians who have dark features. Some townspeople believe that she is a witch, and that her mother bewitched the king to corrupt the bloodline. When Aerin's mother found out Aerin wasn't a boy, she died of agony.
Aerin's friend is Tor, the first sola (or male who would be considered heir in lieu of a prince). However, Aerin is mostly an outcast, despised. She doesn't even have "The Gift," kelar a type of royal magic. There is a plant which kills anyone except those with kelar, and on a dare, Aerin eats it and although she survives, she falls into a long illness, years.
One day she finds a book of history and reads about the dragons. Dragons used to be much bigger, she learns. She reads alone with her father's horse Talat. In her book, she finds a recipe for kenet, a protective potion, an ointment to protect against fire. After three years with her witchcraft and her horse, she perfects the spell and slays a small dragon, with Talat, and with her new kenet. She rises to fame as a dragon slayer, but part one ends with the threat of civil war.
In Part Two, Arlbeth is concerned that a relic has fallen into enemy hands. The 'hero's crown' has magical powers and in the hands of the Northerners, it could mean catastrophe. He must quell the threat of civil war with Nyrlol. Aerin wants to come, but Arlbeth says the people don't trust her still. But, Arlbeth finds out that Maur, the last great dragon, is in Damar. He leaves, as he must, but Aerin takes on the challenge in his absense.
After a difficult battle, having just managed to kill Maur, Aerin receives her bounty: a red stone left from his immolation. Aerin is burned badly because her ointment was not strong enough, and she returns home on horseback, badly wounded with a broken ankle. Before she gets there, Arlbeth and Tor intercept her and bring her home. The skull of the dragon is kept as a trophy, but Aerin doesn't like it. She has a fever dream about a blond man calling to her. She leaves a letter for Tor, and goes off to find the mysterious man. She goes by horseback, using her intuition to find the man. He calls himself Luthe, and he heals the young warrior by placing her in a lake. It has a divinizing effect, like Achilles. She learns how to perform magic from her royal blood.
Luthe is not a stranger to the royal family, it seems. Agsded, Aerin's uncle, and Aerin's mother herself, were all students of the master mage. Agsded, the strongest, was turned corrupted and used his magic for evil. Although her mother believed only a son could defeat him, she was mistake, and Aerin returns with a new quest and a new sword, Gonturan, The Blue Sword. Nature sends her helpers in the form of foltsza and yerigs, large wild cats and dogs. They discover Agsded's castle and the animals find a way in, while Aerin fashions a wreath from the poisonous Surka plant, along with the red stone from the great dragon. When she discovers her uncle, he is wearing the hero's crown, the magical relic.
Her Blue Sword fairs well against Agsded's Red Sword, but in the end, she requires magic to vanquish her foe. She casts her wreath and burns the warlock to death. The fortress crumbles.
In the aftermath, she learns that because her battle was magical by nature, much time passed during her battle, more than she could have imagined. A yerig brings her the hero's crown. She turns the red stone from the dragon over to Luthe, knowing its power. Aerin loves Luthe, but leaves him with a promise to return. She returns to find her nation falling to the hands of the Northerners, but with Gonturan, her army of monstrous animals, and by giving her Hero's Crown to Tor, they defeat the Northerners. The king, however, falls in battle, along with many men. They remove the dragon skull, for it brought a curse against them, and Aerin decides to marry Tor and to rebuild the kingdom with him, instead of returning to Luthe.