In late summer of 1562, with handsome Lord Robert Dudley by her side, Elizabeth Tudor leads her retinue to London's Royal College of Physicians -- to demand its help in the raging battle against disease and pestilence. But the stalwart queen is shaken when a frighteningly lifelike effigy of herself ravaged by pox turns up in her royal coach.
Elizabeth's fear that the counterfeit corpse is a harbinger of tragedy comes to fruition when ever more terrifying transgressions penetrate the very heart of her royal precincts. With the help of her Privy Plot Council , Elizabeth resolves to unmask a murderer who wears a false face and is beset by the vilest humours of the soul. But when she herself falls ill, an entire realm is caught in the grip of a treasonous conspiracy...as the indomitable young monarch fights for her life, her realm, and her rightful crown.