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In the summer of 1914 a young Englishwoman, Vivian Rose Spencer, joins an archaeological dig in Turkey, fulfilling a long-held dream. Working alongside Germans and Turks, she falls in love with archaeologist Tahsin Bey and joins him in his quest to find an ancient silver circlet. But the outbreak of war in Europe brings her idyllic summer to a sudden end, and her new friends become her nation's enemies.
Thousands of miles away, twenty-year-old Pathan Qayyum Gul is learning about brotherhood and loyalty in the British Indian army. When he loses an eye in battle and is sent to England to recuperate, his allegiances falter.
Returning home at last, Qayyum shares a train carriage with Vivian Rose, whose continued search for the circlet has led her to Peshawar in the heart of the British Raj. Many years later, the two cross paths again, and their loyalties will be tested once more amidst massacres, cover-ups, and the disappearance of a young man they both love.